Ayurvedic treatment for Cold sores

Cold sores

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  • Definition
  • Causes
  • Symptoms
  • Diagnosis
  • Management
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Cold sores Ayurvedic treatment


Cold sores are small blisters that develop on the lips or around the mouth. They are caused by viruses and usually clear up within two weeks or longer and heal without leaving a scar. 1-2

Cold sores are caused by Herpes simplex virus and can be easily passed from person to person by close direct contact. There is no particular treatment for cold sores and the blisters may return without warning.1-2

The inflamed conditions of the mouth in Ayurveda are classified under Mukha paaka. Improper diet and deeds causes imbalance of the pitta which in turn aggravates the symptoms associated with mouth ulcers


Cold sores


Certain types of the herpes simplex viruses (HSV) such as the HSV-1 are usually responsible for cold sores. On the other hand, HSV-2 is responsible for genital herpes. However, either type can also cause sores in the facial area. Signs and symptoms do not occur in most people infected with this virus.

The virus remains dormant in nerve cells of the face after an episode of herpes infection, periodically reactivating to create sores in the same area of the mouth or face at the site of the original infection. Recurrence may be triggered by:

  • Viral infection
  • Fever
  • Hormonal changes
  • Immune changes
  • Stress and fatigue
  • Exposure to sunlight and wind
  • Changes in the immune system


Cold sores


A cold sore progresses through several different stages:2

  • Stage one: A tingling and itching sensation that occurs a day before the eruption of the blister.
  • Stage two: Small fluid-filled blisters start to appear.
  • Stage three: Appearance of painful sores after the bursting of the blisters.
  • Stage four: Drying of the sores leading to the formation of itchy scabs.
  • Stage five: The scab falls off and the cold sore heals.


Cold sores


The diagnosis of cold sores can be done just by its physical examination. However, the physician may order testing the sample from the blister in a laboratory to confirm the diagnosis.


Cold sores


The ahar (diet) and vihar (lifestyle regime) recommendations for the management of cold sores are described below:

Diet Recommendations (Aahar)

  • Include gourd vegetables like bitter and the ridged gourds, Drumstick (Sargava), Spinach leaves (Paalakh), Prickly Amaranth (Tandalaja), Coriander leaves (Dhaniya), pomegranate, grapes and amla in your diet
  • Include cereals like rice flakes, puffed rice, and puffed wheat
  • Hydrate adequately - coconut water may be good
  • Avoid hot or spicy food, tea, coffee, alcohol and tobacco
  • Avoid sour things including pickles
  • Papaya and soorana kanda (jami-kanda – Indian Yam) may be useful in this condition
  • Have light sweet food frequently
  • Include ghee, raisins, cucumber, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, almond, dates in diet
  • Do not skip food
  • Include yogurt (not sour) in the diet since it stimulates the immune system and may help in preventing cold sores

Lifestyle changes (Vihar)

  • Practice good oral and personal hygiene If the ulcers overlap with a feeling of exhaustion, check if diet is well balanced and possibly take more rest
  • Oral cleansing techniques like kanwal and gandusha or holding swirling of medicated oils or decoctions in mouth for specific periods can also be beneficial in sore throat.
  • Nasya karma or insufflation of medicines through nasal route / snuffing may be beneficial
  • Gently rub a small ice cube over the spot or rinse your mouth with ice-cold water, if the mouth ulcer is causing a lot of pain
  • Salt water rinsing of mouth may be beneficial in preventing the infected area
  • Mouth ulcers may be associated with constipation. In case of such a situation, use of a mild laxative such as Triphala choorna can give some relief
  • Chew on a piece of licorice (mulathi) as it may be beneficial in refreshing the mouth, cleansing the teeth and arresting the tooth decay. This helps in healing of mouth sores.
  • Intermittently, gargle using with hot and cold water


Cold sores
  1. How Can Toothaches Be Prevented?

Ayurveda suggests simple diet and lifestyle changes to prevent toothaches. They are as follows:


  • Sticky substance which may adhere to the teeth should be avoided
  • Food containing sugar and other sweets should be avoided
  • Fruits like guavas, oranges, pomegranates and other fruits of the citrus family are beneficial as they contain vitamin C which strengthens gums
  • Amla must form the part of the diet since it contains the largest amount of vitamin C and is easily available


  • Maintain a good oral hygiene. Good oral hygiene practices consist of brushing regularly and frequent rinsing of the mouth
  • Make a habit of rinsing the mouth after every meal
  • Use natural oils and extracts from clove oil for toothache. Dab a cotton ball in clove oil on the affected tooth and gently bite down. The natural properties of clove oil can help relieve tooth pain and prevent future cavities and bad breath
  • Using saline water to rinse the mouth after meals helps in curing toothache and even other tooth-related problems
  • Mix equal amounts of pepper, salt and few drops of water to form a paste. Apply this paste on the affected area to relieve toothache
  1. What causes teeth to hurt?

Some of the common causes of toothache includes:

  • Dental decay
  • Dental cavities
  • Swelling of the pulp
  • Tooth infection
  • Broken tooth
  • Exposed tooth root
  • Crack in the tooth
  • Consumption of food rich in carbohydrates and sugar like colas, candies, cakes, etc
  • Consuming hot and cold food together
  • Gum disease
  1. What is plaque?

Plaque is the sticky film or mass of bacteria that grows on the surface of the teeth. It is most noticeable when teeth are not brushed and makes teeth feel rough/fuzzy to the tongue.

When food containing carbohydrates and sugars such as soft drinks, raisins, cakes, or candy are frequently left on the teeth, it leads to the development of plaque. Mouth is full of bacteria which thrive on these food particles producing acids. These acids destroy tooth enamel over a period of time resulting in tooth decay. The development of plaque on the tooth under gums may cause breakdown of the supporting bone present underneath.

In Ayurvedic literature, dental conditions are referred as Danta sharkara, since the appearance of plaque is similar to the sugar coating over the teeth with a granular shape. It is a disease characterized by, hardened accumulation of mala on tooth surface which destroys the teeth and its surrounding structures and is accompanied by bad odour. Vitiated vata takes the form of thick adherence like the thick sugar syrup causing the manifestation of Danta sharkara.

  1. How do I keep my teeth and gums healthy?

Following tips can help you keep your teeth and gums healthy

  • Avoid sugar rich food, hard food, non-vegetarian diet food which will cause the built up of tartar and worsen the problems of dental plaques.
  • Green tea, intake of easily digestible and foods with less fat and carbohydrate prevent the formation of tartar.
  • Consume plenty of raw vegetables
  • Regularly practicing flossing, proper tooth brushing, oral rinsing and regular oil pulling helps to get rid of the plaque efficiently and further prevents the formation of tartar
  • Herbs such as nutmeg (Jatiphala), Triphala (Hareetaki, Vibheetaki and Amalaki) and Saindhava lavana can be made into a fine powder and rubbed well to the teeth. This helps to clear the tartar
  • A mixture of ashes of ginger, long pepper, black pepper and salt can be used for brushing the teeth. Turmeric can be added to this mixture in case of bleeding gums
  1. Can side effects of medications cause dry mouth?

The causes of dry mouth can be attributed to the following:

  • Certain medications
  • Aging
  • A blocked nose
  • Stress
  • Cancer therapy
  • Nerve damage
  • Other health conditions such as immune disease (Sjogren's syndrome) or HIV/AIDS.
  • Tobacco use
  • Drug abuse
  1. What types of foods and beverages should I avoid if I have dry mouth?

Avoid spicy foods and avoid excess coffee, tea, sodas and alcoholic drinks

  1. What’s causing my sore throat?

Sore throat may be caused by the following:

  • Viral infection
  • Bacterial infection
  • Fungal infection
  • Smoking
  • Shouting
  • Allergies
  1. What can I do to make my throat feel better?

Ayurveda recommends the following:

  • Drink plenty of warm fluids, such as teas, soup, and water
  • Hot lemon and honey, honey and cidar vinegar, herbal teas, ginger juice or carrot and apple juice, elderberry juice, blackcurrent tea or juice are all effective during infection which also improve immunity and helps relieving sore throat
  • Daily supplements of teaspoon of cod liver oil, 100 mg vitamin C tablets every 2-3 hours or 2 garlic capsules every two hours can be given until the patient is well again
  • Give plenty of rest to your throat and try not to talk
  • Avoid day sleep since it may lead to Kapha build-up, leading to worsening according to Ayurveda
  • Avoid exposure to cold breeze, water etc.
  • Maintain a good oral hygiene
  • Gargle every few hours using a solution of quarter teaspoonful of common salt or yavakshaara dissolved in half a glass of warm water or decoction prepared from the bark of Acacia (Babul) tree
  1. Is triphala churna an effective remedy for the treatment of mouth ulcers?

Yes, as mouth ulcers are most commonly associated with constipation.  In case of such a situation, use of a mild laxative such as Triphala choorna is advised which will give some relief.

  1. Are there other steps I can take to prevent tooth cavities?

Ayurveda recommends few tips as follows:

  • Decrease intake of sugary foods and drinks
  • Consume foods that are rich sources of calcium
  • Make a mixture of turmeric, salt and mustard oil to make a paste and rub it on teeth and gums
  • Consume plenty of raw vegetables
  • Maintain a good oral hygiene to keep your teeth and gums clean.
  • Avoid smoking and excessive drinking since they may cause dental problems
  • Chewing on fresh herbal sticks in the morning as well as after every meal to prevent diseases. These herb sticks should be either ‘kashaya’ (astringent), ‘katu (acrid), or ‘tikta’ (bitter) in taste. The method of using these sticks is to crush one of its end, chew it, and eat it slowly. The neem (margosa or the Azadiraxhta indica), liquorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra), miswak (miswaak, siwak, sewak) etc. are some examples of herbal sticks
  • Use of an herbal tooth powder madeup from neem powder and salt


Cold sores
  1. Cold sore. Available at: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cold-sore/basics/definition/con-20021310?p=1. Accessed on: 1 September 2016.
  2. Cold Sores. Available at: http://www.healthline.com/health/herpes-labialis#Overview1. Accessed on: 1 September 2016
  3. Manohar M. Ayurveda for all. V&S Publishers; 2012 Apr 5.
  4. Natural Ayurvedic Home Remedies for Cold Sores. Available at: http://www.homeveda.com/Natural-Remedies/Skin-Health/Natural-Ayurvedic-Home-Remedies-for-Cold-Sores. Accessed on: 1 September 2016.
  5. Abhinav Singhand Bharathi Purohit. J Ayurveda Integr Med. 2011 Apr-Jun; 2(2): 64–68. Tooth brushing, oil pulling and tissue regeneration: A review of holistic approaches to oral health
  6. Sunita Amruthesh. Dentistry and Ayurveda - IV: Classification and management of common oral diseases Indian J Dent Res, 19(1), 2008.

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