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June 22, 2011

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Treating mouth ulcers in summer

NOT only many children but also adults suffer regularly from painful and burning patches in the mouth - a condition that is called aphtha.

Aphtha is defined as an oral disease with small white or yellowish ulcers. These ulcers are often surrounded by redness and can be found on the inside of the mouth, inner lips and the tongue.

Western medicine explains the occurrence of aphtha as a result of infections (viral, bacterial or fungal). It is often correlated with another disease (often stomach disease or the common cold) when the immune system is already weakened.

Specific foods (such as citrus fruits and nuts) and stress, insomnia and overwork are also suspected to promote aphtha.

Traditional Chinese medicine traces the ailment back to dampness and heat in the heart and spleen. Especially in summers with hot temperatures and high humidity, the pathogenic factors dampness and heat can easily invade the body through the skin.

These factors manifest in the body and increase the heat of heart and spleen organ systems. Since in TCM the five main organ systems have an "opening" into one sense organ of the head, the spleen organ (representing the digestive system) opens into the mouth. Therefore, aphtha in the mouth is a result of this increasing heat.

The disease in young children is mostly caused by inappropriate nutrition such as over-consumption of fat, sweet, spicy or fried foods that supports increased heat in the body.

Also, the nutrition of pregnant women (too much greasy food) can be a cause of the excess of heat in newborns and young children. Adults are advised to avoid smoking, alcohol and stress to relieve the pain and to reduce the appearance of mouth ulcers.

Without effective treatment, aphtha can lead to difficulties in speaking, eating and drinking due to the burning pain in the mouth.

TCM doctors often prescribe watermelon frost or a combination of medicinal herbs (Liu Shen Wan) to cure aphtha. Because of its anti-inflammatory function, licorice is used to ease the burning pain.

Doris Rathgeber is founder of Body & Soul Medical Clinics.



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