Articles, Blog

The Role of Dairy and Gluten in Canker Sores

August 25, 2019

[Music] recurring canker sores is the single most common inflammatory and ulcerative condition of the mouth affecting is many’s one in five people ouch sometimes it can be a sign of celiac disease a relatively rare autoimmune condition triggered by the wheat protein gluten but what about those without celiac disease well 37 years ago there was a report of a small group of recurrent canker sore patients that got better after removing gluten from their diet despite the fact that they didn’t have any signs of celiac disease and now without a control group you don’t know if they wouldn’t just gotten better on their own but it was interesting enough to spark further study given that small series of patients they decided to try out a gluten-free diet on 20 folks with a recurring canker sores again explicitly excluding those known to have celiac disease and five of the twenty seemed to get better and critically then they got worse when they were challenged with gluten so even though there was no control group II in the few that got better the ulcers came back when gluten was added back to their diet now this was not just some random group of canker sore sufferers they the reason they had gotten intestinal biopsies to rule out celiac was because they had some other abnormalities he can’t extrapolate from this study saying one in five sufferers may benefit from cutting out gluten though at least it appears in some people to help though would been better if there was some blinded challenge I mean if you cut out gluten or any food and just coincidentally happen to feel better you might convince yourself that gluten was the culprit and so then when the researcher gives you a piece of bread maybe just a stress at the thought of your ulcers coming back may actually help trigger the ulcers coming back that’s why ideally you do blinded gluten challenges to see if gluten really is to blame for example if you take people who don’t have celiac or wheat allergy but nevertheless claim to be sensitive to gluten you can test to see if they’re fooling themselves by randomly assigning them to take a capsule with gluten inside or just a placebo made out of rice starch so they’re on a gluten-free diet and then you give them this pill which in the case of the gluten one equivalents like two pieces of bread and you see if they get worse and then just the thought of taking something that might be gluten their symptoms shot up and this was them just taking a placebo rice starch pill but the reason we know this non-celiac gluten sensitivity exists is that the actual gluten pill made them feel even worse and that’s specifically what happened in the case of canker sores those who felt they were gluten sensitive did actually get more canker sores exposed to real as opposed to fake gluten where did they even get the idea in the original study to try cutting out gluten well back in the 60s it was reported that the blood of patients with bad canker sores reacted to certain food proteins like gluten but had an even stronger reaction to the milk protein casein this has since been more formally tested 50 patients with recurring characters were compared to 50 healthy people for their levels of anti gluten antibodies gliadin is a type of gluten protein in anti cow’s milk protein antibodies and the canker sore sufferers were no more likely to react to the gluten but the levels of anti milk proteins were significantly higher in fact the majority reacted to the cow’s milk these results indicate a strong association between high levels of anti milk proteins in the blood with recurring canker sores but what we care about is do people actually get better or not when they cut out the milk well upon hearing their results three of the patients spontaneously decide to cut out all dairy products from their diet for a few months to see what happens and it seemed to help no reappearance of the sores in the first patient same with a second until they had some cow’s milk ice cream and in the third the ulcers seemed to come with less frequency but those were just some observations not an actual study you see the same thing with certain food additives folks with recurring canker sores may react more to certain food dyes and so if you tried people on a gluten-free diet or a dairy-free diet or a diet free of certain food additives you’ll get a few cases of people responding in this case six out of eleven some better on the gluten-free others better on the milk free others on the additive free but the responses were pretty dramatic seeing within a week so seems it might be worth giving these exclusion diets a try to see if there’s a huge improvement can you just get an allergy test or something apparently not for example this poor woman who suffered from recurring canker sores since she was 2 years old multiple painful lesions in her mouth almost constantly they asked her about milk and she said she rarely drank it because it appeared to trigger more almost immediately so they decided to look into it they tested her for sensitivities to dairy the so called prick and patch allergy tests and they were both negative but hey if she felt worse on dairy might as well try cutting out all dairy products completely and for the first time in her life the ulcers went away and stayed away unless she actually had some milk product so even if people test negative maybe worth a try to cut out all dairy and see what happens look we know cow’s milk may play a role in other allergic and autoimmune type diseases and there are these reports going back decades suggest at least there’s a subgroup of canker sore patients for which dairy is a constant factor however awareness of this association is rare among both patients and healthcare providers an improvement can happen rapidly boy and a girl both suffering for years with frequent multiple serrations the apparently cured within two weeks we don’t know how often it works we just know it does sometimes so as this 2017 paper in the journal the American Dental Association suggests why not give a cow’s milk protein elimination trial a try particularly before the use of medications with potential side effects [Music] you


  • Reply houndjog February 12, 2018 at 1:03 pm

    Same thing will cancer, it feeds off of glucose. What you eat effects your body!

  • Reply AlboPepper - Drought Proof Urban Gardening February 12, 2018 at 1:07 pm

    Life without dairy has been treating me well! Thanks Dr Greger. Certainly, it's worth giving it a try!!!

  • Reply Daniel Borges February 12, 2018 at 1:09 pm

    Very good as always. Thx for the effort.

  • Reply Lichtblick February 12, 2018 at 1:14 pm

    Dairy is not your food!

  • Reply Vegan Walk February 12, 2018 at 1:14 pm

    Do cows get canker sores?

  • Reply sooooooooDark February 12, 2018 at 1:14 pm

    go raw and never turn back into darkness

  • Reply Vegan Crue February 12, 2018 at 1:23 pm

    Makes you wonder how much healthier humans would be today if dairy was never introduced to us…?

  • Reply JellyfishGroupStan February 12, 2018 at 1:30 pm

    i did used to get lots of canker sores before i went vegan and i think i've had maybe 1 since, but i never really thought of it as potentially due to dairy. crazy lol

  • Reply RunAMuckGirl2 February 12, 2018 at 1:31 pm

    Nice emoji use there. 😀

  • Reply Joshua Metzner February 12, 2018 at 1:40 pm

    Since I went vegan, I haven't had any of these yet 😀 In contrast to that before I went vegan and was vegetarian I had one of these spots every other month.
    Btw. loved the part with the emoji 😀 1:32

  • Reply Διονύσιος February 12, 2018 at 2:17 pm

    What is Gluten?

  • Reply Nickie February 12, 2018 at 2:27 pm

    I freakin knew it ! Everytime I eat bread my mouth becomes a warzone, I was scared it was because of gluten, damnit now I must live without my precious bread.

  • Reply Caroline Mickle February 12, 2018 at 2:39 pm

    I use to get up to 12 canker sores or more at a time before I went vegan. It was awful.

  • Reply Pam Spicer February 12, 2018 at 3:06 pm

    I always thought it was from too much acid in my system (ketchup seemed to trigger it). I only get them occasionally now since I've removed dairy and meat. Using a diluted peroxide rinse for 3 days gets rid of them.

  • Reply lightdark00 February 12, 2018 at 3:06 pm

    This really shows how people are different. I'm wondering about genetic similarities between people that get canker sores from different triggers.

  • Reply Eelke Aptroot February 12, 2018 at 3:09 pm

    That's some febudairy right there….

  • Reply Rhyothemis princeps February 12, 2018 at 3:42 pm

    I had frequent aphthous ulcers years ago; I noticed they got better when when I drank San Pellegrino water. I was still on a typical, slightly-better-than SAD semi-vegetarian diet back then.

  • Reply Fanny Bass February 12, 2018 at 3:53 pm

    I thank God, and Dr. Greger, I don't eat dairy!

  • Reply Ryan Finchum February 12, 2018 at 4:56 pm

    Any studies on the use of lysine therapeutically for canker sores? Or limiting arginine rich foods?

  • Reply TheOnlyFairee February 12, 2018 at 5:42 pm

    I hope you update your gluten sensitivity isn't real videos now!

  • Reply Johannes Laser February 12, 2018 at 6:03 pm

    Hey, can you do anything on this study? Can it be proven wrong?

  • Reply Jasmine Bruneau February 12, 2018 at 6:13 pm

    I used to have canker sores every month, and they would last for 2 weeks. Such hell! Then I went vegan 9 months ago, and I haven't got any sores ever since. True story. Ditch dairy! Not your mom, not your milk.

  • Reply G F February 12, 2018 at 6:55 pm

    When I discovered that milk put in tea destroys antioxidants I wondered what else does milk negatively affect, thusly no milk in the fridge for 22 years.

  • Reply Vladimir Lenin February 12, 2018 at 7:31 pm

    I haven't had this since going vegan

  • Reply Razvan Sedekiah February 12, 2018 at 7:34 pm

    😆 Whoa! I have a canker sore today and was just googling about them and then I come to YouTube and this is in my feed! I am vegan, I don't eat a lot of gluten, but some… Hmmmm… Thanks for the idea!

  • Reply Phillip Morrison February 12, 2018 at 7:39 pm

    Canker Sores for me are not caused by dairy or gluten . Honestly its very sweet/sour fruit that does it to me like pineapple , or grapefruit. If I have like 4 or more pieces of pineapple i will undoubtedly get a canker soar the next morning. Relay sugary foods and sour candy will do it as well . I could not imagine bread or dairy causing canker sores because it seems like he cause is linked to acidic/ harsh foods. At least to me bread and milk is pretty easy on your mouth tho its awful for your gut

  • Reply gdcat777 February 12, 2018 at 7:58 pm

    So why is it that every time I accidentally bite or even pinch the corners of my mouth/lips, get a tongue abrasion from sneezing, or have too much juice I get cancer sores?  I stopped dairy almost 3 years ago and still get them from eating accidents resulting in blood.

  • Reply K February 12, 2018 at 8:49 pm

    Dr Greger – any videos/research on male breast cancer to come? I am concerned for someone I love.

  • Reply Positive Vibe February 12, 2018 at 9:25 pm

    I used to get canker soars all of the time and now that I am on a dairy free gluten free diet, I get one every year compared to 10 or more…

  • Reply Plant Maven February 12, 2018 at 10:24 pm

    Sodium laural sulfate in toothpaste can cause cankers too.

  • Reply Italian13Princess February 12, 2018 at 10:27 pm

    What about coldsores? I eat a plant based diet and decided to splurge on some pizza after a horrible day. Worst decision ever. 2 days later I broke out in a coldsore and my digestion has been off track. I wondered if the dairy had anything to do with it or if it was just a coincidence. Regardless I really don't want to do that again.

  • Reply Chanellealyssa February 12, 2018 at 11:43 pm

    i would like to know your thoughts on biotin supplementing and the facts on if it really works for hair and nails

  • Reply AllergicRants February 13, 2018 at 12:29 am

    My whole life I suffered from canker sores. I’d get one or two every month. Back in 2009 when I came to Germany the first time, it was the same but in Jan 2010 I got my first three canker sores at the same time. After that I got to the point that I’d get 8 at a time. I couldn’t even speak from the pain.
    Doctors told me I should quit citrus fruits, or that it was a virus that would come whenever it wanted.
    In 2015 someone mentioned how a friend of his quit gluten for a year and then it was fine. (I was already vegan, since 2013). It. Got. Better. I had trouble because gluten is hidden everywhere and sometimes I didn’t even suspect it’d be in certain food items (like spices, for example).
    I cannot even toast gluten free bread in a toaster that has had normal bread in it, or I will not kiss my boyfriend in the mouth if he has eaten gluten. I am that sensitive.
    Doctors kinda “laughed” at me for making this association.

  • Reply Aiman Bryan February 13, 2018 at 1:52 am

    Drinking secretion from cow tits sounds more like a dare than a good idea.

  • Reply Red Earth February 13, 2018 at 6:35 am

    Is there any information connecting cold sores and nuts and seeds. Last year I had one after another, more than I've had in my whole 46 years of life, I've been getting them since I was 5 yr old. I always got them from peanut butter, but was able to eat nuts and seeds without a problem. Last year I started getting them from peanuts, cashews, pistachios, walnuts, chia seeds, sunflower seeds and quinoa. It took a while to realize what was causing them and since cutting the nuts and seeds I haven't had a cold sore for a few months.

  • Reply Hannah Crossley February 13, 2018 at 7:18 am

    I used to suffer with them regularly before I went plant based! Yet another minor ailment that magically disappeared 🌱💚🌍💚🌱

  • Reply ecopedagogy February 13, 2018 at 9:56 am

    I get them when I eat something with white refined sugar in it

  • Reply Inna Shabanova February 13, 2018 at 10:48 am

    O M G I Actually forgot that suffered from stomatitis before vegan, even didn't notice that I did not have it for about 5 years so far OMG. How people would be healthier if cut out animals products.

  • Reply The Vegan Wallflower February 13, 2018 at 11:51 am

    I use to have canker sores at least once a month for as long as I can remember until I went vegan two years ago and now I never have them :O

  • Reply Mateus Brazil February 13, 2018 at 1:05 pm

    I had canker sores for 30 years. Every day. It was so painful, and because of it I was always in a bad mood. I became vegan 3 years ago, to become healthier and notice that I never had a canker sore anymore. It is sad to think about how much I suffered because someone had the stupid idea that cow's milk is suitable for humans.

  • Reply T OD February 13, 2018 at 2:07 pm

    Could you please have the Dr. talk about this?

  • Reply Victor Crosswell February 13, 2018 at 11:51 pm

    i suffered with canker sores since i was a child and when i stopped bread and lots of processed foods then switched to whole foods mixed with fasting havent got one since even if i ate some pizza or bread here and there

  • Reply Bimmer Man February 14, 2018 at 12:37 am

    I had pizza cooked without cheese and no oil, I felt ok. Next I tried the same pizza on a different day that had been cooked with cheese. I removed the cheese and ate and bam! Even though it had no cheese I had a big reaction bc the cheese had been there. Lots of gas, bloating, diarrhea the same and next day. If continued I get the painful canker sores. The doctors' tests always said I'm not lactose intolerant, so I unknowingly lived with this painful condition for many years and it contributed to or even caused Crohn's disease!!!

  • Reply SultanNify February 14, 2018 at 1:57 am

    Who the hell cares about canker sorez when you will debunk all keto diet advocates. Alot of people do keto and their blood sugar and cholesterol get better. Same with plant based. Explain why someone should choose high carb whole food plant based diet over keto?

  • Reply Victor Mattar February 14, 2018 at 3:45 pm


  • Reply thruaglass1 February 14, 2018 at 10:26 pm

    Had them growing up, horribly when under severe stress-I couldn't even talk sometimes.
    But after i left the u.s. [my diet changed-less meat/milk & processed foods] to Israel/Germany for 17 yrs. they stopped.

  • Reply pastukas February 15, 2018 at 8:43 am

    99 percent reduction in canker sore incidence after going largely plant-based. Even occasional dairy does not seem to trigger it anymore for me.

  • Reply mmr lkl February 17, 2018 at 3:13 am

    i get canker sores while fasting (intermittent fasting) but just in the first days ..and fever

  • Reply Hulagu Kahn February 17, 2018 at 7:57 pm

    Why is this Shawn Baker so sure beef is so good for you Dr. Greger?

  • Reply Tamar Levin Fisher February 19, 2018 at 9:06 am I am having trouble finding studies against dairy on NIH website. I am trying to find concrete, studies from big health orginzations to show some fellow moms that are "shaming" moms that are dairy free. They will only accept articles from big health org. (its a mom FB group). Can you please assist me in the right direction of concrete evidence/articles to show them? Thank you!

  • Reply Yonghan Wang March 20, 2018 at 3:15 am

    now lets rule out the daily milk and bread of diet. I see good stuff coming this way.

  • Reply Ery1389 April 5, 2018 at 6:59 pm

    For me, the solution was changing toothpaste! I use the ones without sls and canke sores are now very rare! Only when i'm sick or stressed! SO, THANK YOU! <3 <3 <3 😀

  • Reply Lena April 21, 2018 at 5:32 am

    I think raw garlic causes mine.

  • Reply Sunyata July 14, 2018 at 11:21 pm

    I have two now and they're killing my mood.

  • Reply TheAhmedvienna August 25, 2018 at 7:45 am

    My canker sore came back when I became vegan.

  • Reply Tweedle Dee September 1, 2018 at 8:36 am

    I had the same chronic ulceration as that 17 year old but mine began after i developed Ulcerative Colitis. It stayed that way until my parents pointed out that everytime i went on a milk or ice cream binge i would coincidentally start complaining about ulcers in the following weeks (At one point i counted about 21 ulcers covering the entirety of my lower lip where i couldn't even speak; it was summer and I'd been having milkshakes and ice cream almost every day). I decided to give my parents the benefit of the doubt and reduced my dairy consumption and on cue my ulcers decreased dramatically. But since I've gone vegan (although i did it for ethical purposes) that has changed and they have now gone away COMPLETELY. I'm saying NOT A SINGLE ONE. I wish I had access to these studies before; would have saved me so much unnecessary pain. But it's okay better late than never. God bless Veganism. Anyone suffering from health issues even if you don't want to go 100% vegan please at least give a plant based diet a TRY. Your issues will get much much better if not go away completely.

  • Reply Maybe Not December 20, 2018 at 11:31 am

    I was a 100% whole food plant based vegan for three and a half years. Not one iota of dairy. Canker sores only got worse to the point that I was getting them one after another with no relief in between. So I can say with great certainty that they are absolutely NOT caused by dairy. So for the last four months I also gave up gluten. I actually gave up all grains entirely. Just got a canker sore. It's not dairy or gluten. The fact that no one in the history of humanity has figured out the cause of canker sores would be funny if they didn't hurt so much.

  • Reply Janet deCardenas February 1, 2019 at 6:35 pm

    Most of my life I've struggled with canker sores and gastric ulcers. I also have OA and was always saying to myself "What causes me to have so much inflammation?" I had pain in almost all my joints and I felt older than my years. I read all the time to find a clue as to why I was having this inflammation and came across an article in a medical journal describing how DAIRY can cause big time inflammation.18 months ago I stopped consuming all dairy and eggs.(Previously I was vegetarian but still ate dairy and eggs). Within 2 weeks I noticed a miracle of miracle! My pain was gone! My gastric pain is gone as I was prescribed a proton pump inhibitor in the past. I stopped taking any meds for my GERDS. My family and I live a Plant Based Whole Foods diet and loving it! I still have OA but it's getting better! Thanks Dr. Greger for diligently putting the word out there!

  • Reply Scott Marcy May 15, 2019 at 3:31 pm

    Question: Is tapioca safe for the thyroid? I have non-celiac gluten sensitivity, so I eat gluten-free bread. But I also have hypothyroidism. Most gluten-free bread contains tapioca, and according to my research, tapioca is bad for the thyroid. Is this true, and if so, what should I eat?

  • Reply Sophie Topham June 27, 2019 at 8:38 pm

    As a child I used to suffer with these all the time and struggled eating and drinking. The irony was I could only eat soft food like cheese 🙁 which made it far worse with so much pain. I stopped dairy several years ago and all cleared up

  • Reply Stadno Art July 26, 2019 at 6:05 am

    Dr Greger you the man!

    Don't forget to also stop brushing your teeth with toothpaste which has SLS.

    Coming from someone who had at least several canker sores a month for at least 15 years straight. From each cut & more. I forgot how bad it was. Haven't had one since I went vegan & stopped using SLS toothpaste.

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