Canker Sores Prevented by Omega-3?

Eric Vlemmix writes:

I’ve had these oral sores [canker sores, also called Aphthous ulcers] since childhood [he’s 33], but since taking flax/fish oil I have had hardly any ulcers! The times I had an ulcer it was small, less painful than usual, and would disappear in a few days. The doctors never knew what the cause of these ulcers was, and Wikipedia states: cause unknown.

I asked about his fish oil and flaxseed oil intake:

Something like 15 ml [= 1 tablespoon] of flaxseed oil daily. Most days I also take a Minami morEPA plus capsule which has 635 mg EPA, and 195 mg DHA.

I started SLD in June 2008, and I think I switched from olive oil to flax the same month. Since then I haven’t had a real serious case of ulcers. Some small issues sometimes, but not the real big and extremely painful ones that I had before. Sometimes a small mini zit-like thing.

According to Family Doctor, “Doctors don’t know of anything that prevents canker sores from forming.” The Mayo Clinic website is equally unhelpful. To prevent canker sores, EMedicineHealth advises, “Do not talk while chewing.” According to KidsHealth, “About 1 in 5 people regularly gets bothersome canker sores.”

Any canker-sore sufferer want to start taking flaxseed oil and fish oil (in the amounts Eric uses) and tell me what happens?

Gum surgery averted

16 Replies to “Canker Sores Prevented by Omega-3?”

  1. Well, I used to get canker sores about once or twice a year. They’d last a few weeks before disappearing. In the past year I haven’t had any. I’ve also made a number of dietary changes (which Seth has posted here ( that include an improved balance between omega6 and omega3 PUFAs. While I don’t take flax oil, I do take a daily dose (1/3 teaspoon) of fermented high-vitamin cod liver oil and 1/3 teaspoon of high-vitamin butter oil. I also used to have a small amount of bleeding after flossing around the gum of one of my capped teeth. This would occur about once a month during which the gum would bleed a little and be a bit tender. I haven’t had that happen for at least 6 months now.

  2. I have never had canker sores. I did get bleeding after flossing, however. The less I flossed the worse it got. That never happens now even though I rarely floss.

  3. funny, our 6 year old has had canker sores on and off for a few years. We started giving him fish oil in the fall and he does seem to have fewer canker sores. Coincidence?

  4. Could you do some self-experimentation by replacing flax oil by rapeseed oil/canola?
    Canola is also rich in omega-3 and is traditionally consumed in India.

  5. Canola might also work, it has a omega3/6 ratio of 1:2 (which is quite ok) if I check this: . Flaxoil and fishoil have better omega3/6 ratios, but canola might work depening on the rest of your food intake (how much omega3’s and 6’s).

    If your omega-6 intake is higher than 4% of your calories, you might need an extra boost of omega-3 to outcompete the omega-6. If your omega-6 intake is quite low, you probably do not need a whole lot of extra omega-3 to compete with it because the numbers already are quite low. See for extra details.

  6. Lauren, your observations suggest that a higher dose would be better.

    Gian, canola oil has much less ALA (short chain omega-3) than flaxseed oil. Canola oil is about 10% ALA while flaxseed oil is about 50% ALA. Canola oil is rich in omega-3 compared to other fats, which have less.

  7. I was plagued with canker sores for years. Often suffering with pain from sores the diameter of a pencil for weeks on end.

    I am convinced that sodium laurel sulfate in toothpaste aggravates them for me; removing the layer of repair and exposing the sore to mouth bacteria. I have found complete relief by avoiding normal toothpaste and using Biotene only. Also by controlling bacteria by staying hydrated.

    I still will get a small one now and then from a mouth bite but it heals normally.

    I also have greatly improved my diet along omega 3 lines so that is consistent with this post but for any sufferers reading this out there, please consider not sudsing up your mouths so much with normal toothpaste.

  8. I found out quite by accident WALNUTS get rid of them quite quickly. The first sign of an ulcer I chew walnuts and leave the paste in my mouth for a little while (30 seconds or so).

    The first time was by accident, my ulcers disappeared so quickly I knew it had to be something I ate. And the only thing I had eaten differently the past day was walnuts.

  9. DH’s canker sores improved when he switched to Tom’s of Maine toothpaste (no laurel sulfate). They went away when he went gluten free. He hasn’t had one since 11/07. IMO, anyone with canker sores should consider testing for gluten intolerance.

  10. “I found out quite by accident WALNUTS get rid of them quite quickly.”

    That is odd. From my reading’ walnuts CAUSE canker sores for many people.

  11. on the walnut story, some of the bitters in the skins might help as well. tannins are supposed to be soothing to canker sores and I recently had luck calming one down (didn’t go away but wasn’t so irritating) taking a wet tea bag and sticking it on the sore for a minute.

    one of the supposed reasons that walnuts aggravate canker sores is because they contain relatively high amounts of a particular amino acid. seems like they are more nutritionally correlated with sores than anything, so that wouldn’t necessarily rule out their efficacy as a topical treatment.

    at any rate, these things are really annoying! i’ve had two in the last month ( I know, not so bad) definitely catalyzed by stress, but maybe with other underlying factors. I was already conscious of using toothpaste alternatives, but now I will avoid sodium lauryl sulphate like the plague! probly will just use baking soda and try to keep up on flossing. also, this whole thing makes me want to start taking fish oil again. is anyone concerned about sourcing and potential concentration of toxins and pollutants in the oil? are there reputable sources?

  12. I am trying the walnut remedy right now, the thing I suspected was energy drinks, red bull seems to be worse than monster, and the coffee ones dont seem to cause them at all. I am pretty sure they cause them for me, it seems like when i drink them for a few days in a row i will have a sore. I do hope the walnuts work just to know the exact source would be the lack of omega – 3 and I can adjust my diet accordingly.

  13. Hydrogen peroxide used as a mouthwash is the only solution that worked for me. I used to have a lot if them that lasted for weeks. Deleting sodium l. sulphate didn’t work. Neither did high dose omega 3 fish oil.

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