Canker sores are those fiery ulcers that seem to flare up willy-nilly in the inside of your mouth.

Are canker sores really so impromptu? Or do they have a predictable, controllable cause?

A doctor in Dublin, Ireland, thinks that, for allergic people, canker sores tend to be a result of food allergy. Dr C.W.M. Wilson noticed that of a group of sixty-one people with hay fever, over half had a long record of canker sores. In one out of five of those people, specific foods were clearly to blame. (The most common offenders were milk, eggs, cabbage, turnips, parsnips, pork, wheat germ, tea and coffee.)

Dr Wilson feels that in allergic people, the tissues in the mouth serve as a barometer of allergic stimulation. The burning and tangy sensations that precede a canker sore signal that they’ve eaten a food to which they are allergic.

These sensations probably correspond to similar sensations in the skin associated with allergic eczema,’ says Dr Wilson. Incidentally, half of the canker sore sufferers also had gas, diarrhoea and other abdominal discomforts, plus fatigue – common symptoms of food allergy (Annals of Allergy).

Other doctors tell of a particularly stubborn case of painful, depressing canker sores that responded to food allergy treatment. Ever since birth, a thirteen-year-old girl had never been free of canker sores for more than three weeks at a time. She’d been given almost every drug in the book, to no avail. During an elimination diet to identify food allergies, she reacted to potato, coffee and chocolate. (Potatoes rarely cause allergy, but the girl had been eating raw potatoes daily all her life, thus potentiating an allergic reaction.)

‘After withdrawal of these foods, the canker sores healed and she has been completely free of ulcers for four months,’ report Drs Ronald Finn and H. Newman Cohen, of the Royal Southern Hospital in the Department of Medicine, at the University of Liverpool {Lancet ).

The foods blamed for canker sores in these two studies are by no means the only possible offenders.


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