Roshni Saha, a 40-year-old housemaker from Kolkata realised a burning and painful sensation in her mouth whenever she ate. She did not bother about it for a few days until her taste perception got halted and the pain with burning became intense. She observed a whitish lesion on the back of her lips that looked like a sore with numerous whitish-red tiny bumps covering her tongue.
Being a nature lover, she has a lot of medicinal plants along with flowering and decorative shrubs in her garden. She started using aloe vera pulp and honey on the sore and gargling her mouth with warm salt water, which she once heard to be effective in mouth ulcers on some spiritual TV channel.
Her pain subsided as her ulcers got almost vanished within a week with taste buds being responsive as earlier.
According to ayurveda, there are more than 60 types of mouth disease or Mukharoga which affect lips, gums, teeth, tongue, palate, and whole oral cavity.
Stomatitis or Mukhapaka is a common mouth disorder. With a generalized complaint that prevails in all age groups, people who often eat spicy and non-vegetarian diets are at greater risk of this condition.
However, it may also occur if an individual chews tobacco products, does not get enough sleep, has vitamin B deficiency, skin diseases, and disturbance in the gastrointestinal tract such as constipation.
Mouth ulcers can heal by themselves but in case, they do not go away, you should seek doctor’s consultation.
Modern allopathy medicine treats the sores at the location with local anesthetics and anti-bacterials along with multivitamin supplementation. Steroidal mouth gels or paints are prescribed if a person is not responding to the aforementioned therapy.
“As a first-line therapy for canker sores, I prescribe mouth gels with anesthesia properties to provide relief”, says Dr. Mamit Kumar, Oral & Maxillofacial surgeon, Maharishi Markandeshwar College of Dental Science and Research, Ambala. “Vitamin C and B complex is prescribed along with anesthetic and metronidazole mouth paints or gels for pain relief and faster healing, treating the ulcers with steroids is my last approach”.
While modern medicine can treat the symptoms of ulcers ayurveda looks at treating the cause of ailment that eventually alleviates the symptoms and also prevents its frequent remission.
When vata energy is involved, you will experience pain, fissuring of the tongue, and intolerance to cold food. Pitta may lead to burning, redness, and bitter taste. Moderate pain, excessive salivation, slight itching, reddish and less sticky mouth ulcers is observed when Kapha is involved. While an individual can have a mixture of symptoms from all three energies.
“Your stomach is the root cause of your illness and goodness,” says Dr. Syed M. Pasha, Department of Shalakya Tantra (ENT Ayurveda), Bengaluru. “Impairment of Agni (fire), that is digestion, causes all diseases. And pacifying the digestion is the first line of treatment in ayurveda.”
Panchakarma is the sole approach of treatment that treats, prevents, and promotes equilibrium of all the three doshas. This technique detoxifies and rejuvenates the body to bring the body in a good state, he further added.
In a review article published in ‘International Ayurvedic Medical Journal’ in 2016, a study led by Dr. Ambika Dhiman from J.D. Ayurvedic College and Hospital explains the ways to treat mouth ulcers (stomatitis) and concludes that the natural products are cost-effective and easily available which is gentle and effective in treating oral disease.
The study states that correcting and strengthening digestion, balancing the doshas, and improving nutrition status can treat and prevent the reoccurrence. According to Ayurveda, this can be done by external therapy, internal medications, yoga and asanas, food choices, and lifestyle changes along with panchakarma.
For bacteriostatic and faster healing, gargling (Kavala) with medicated oils such as sesame oil, Gandusha – a mixture of medicated liquid retained in the mouth – by buttermilk or honey; mouthwash with Aloe vera juice, and chewing licorice, black catechu, or myrrh can be a good choice, the study emphasises
A combination of herbs to purify the blood like Kaishora Guggulu, and sandalwood-infused oils are suggested. Ingesting dried coarse powder of several herbs like amla and triphala mixed in warm water can help with better digestion process.
Dr Syed notifies that there is an immediate effect once panchakarma is completed. There is almost no chance of reoccurrence when we put the three doshas in equilibrium.
In a 2020 case study published in ‘Journal of Ayurvedic and Herbal Medicine’, led by Ravindra B. Ghaywate, Associate Professor, Department of Panchakarma, RK University Ayurved College and Hospital, Gujarat – reveals that symptoms like ulcer pain with burning sensation, difficulty engulfing the food, constipation, and anxiety significantly disappeared within 7 days of ayurvedic treatment.
Ravindra includes gandusha which halts bacterial multiplication and enhances tissue healing, Kaishora Guggulu (a mixture of herbs in the form of a tablet) which kills the bacteria and reduces swelling and redness, and churna of several herbs and fruits which enhances digestion and excretion processes.
While modern medicine is a widely accepted approach to any ailment, natural or ayurvedic therapy could act as a complimentary therapy to treat mouth ulcers and rebalance all three bodily energies.