A mostly harmless, painful nuisance

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Mouth sores are one of the most common oral conditions. They are not dangerous, but can be very annoying, disturbing daily activities like eating or sleeping. And they have no easy cure.

Doctor Hoang Cong Minh of Ho Chi Minh City's private hospital Nhan Sinh said that according to eastern medicine, mouth sores, which are vesicles that quickly burst into ulcers on the tongue tip or around the buccal cavity, are caused by poisonous heat produced by the stomach and spleens that lie underneath.

Western medicine defines the condition as damage in the oral mucous membranes caused by different reasons including humoral disorder or changes in the blood ingredients, Minh said.

It also happens when one's liver or kidney loses some decontamination effect, due to iron deficiency in one's diet or heavy metal pollution in the water.

Stress or regular contact with toxins is other culprits.

Or mouth sores can simply be an injury that gets infected, the doctor said.

He said the condition is autoimmune and the body will automatically produce antibodies.

But before it goes away, it can cause a lot of pain, making it difficult for one to speak, eat, and even sleep, so waiting for it to go by itself is usually not an option.

"Some people dare not eat because they are afraid of the pain, which in turn can cause digestive disorders, while little children might not eat at all and easily lose weight," Minh said.

The doctor said that in some cases, the sores can develop into acute inflammation and cause high fever.

He said there is no permanent cure for mouth sores, and many of his patients have them revisiting every month or several weeks.

Minh said more than 20 percent of Vietnamese people suffer from regular mouth sores.

He suggested a diet rich in vitamins and minerals for protection.

Many patients have the habit of smoking and drinking coffee, which increases the body's heat.

Drinking beer is also unsafe when served with unhygienic ice.

He said when the sores recur too often and last long, the patient needs proper examination for more severe conditions like lupus that often harms the heart, joints, skin, lungs, blood vessels, liver, kidneys and the nervous system.

A diet to prevent mouth sores should include inputs with high content of vitamins C, B1 and B2.

One needs to drink a lot of water to cool the body and discharge toxins, cleaning the oral cavity with anti-bacteria rinses, and avoid hot spices like chili, pepper, ginger and garlic.

Herbal cure

Several kinds of antibiotics and lotions are available for mouth sores, but doctor Minh suggests that some remedies from common vegetables and fruits work better.

One cure is juice pressed from ground pieces of dried coconut, used to rinse three to four times a day.

Other effective rinses are water boiled with coriander seeds, or juice from fresh radish, or fresh tomatoes.

Chewing basil leaves five to six times a day also helps ease the condition.

The leaves of false daisy (or "co muc" in Vietnamese) or star gooseberry (also known as katuk or sweet leaf or "rau ngot" in Vietnamese) when pounded also provides the juice that can be applied to cure mouth sores.

Edible remedies include fresh tomatoes, green tea that has high content of anti-oxidations, and sour star fruit juice that is prepared by pounding the fruits and boiling them in water. The water should be held in the mouth for some time before it is swallowed gradually.

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