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Celebrating the Power of Plants for Conscious Living

Herbal Pain Relief for the Mouth

By Faye Sakellaridis




It’s hard to ignore a tooth throbbing in pain, or the sensation of burning acid on the side of your mouth. The online herbal magazine Mother Earth News excerpted a chapter from Leslie M. Alexander and Linda A. Straub-Bruce’s Dental Herbalism, in which they detail ways that various herbs can be used to relieve the myriad of uncomfortable ailments that plague the mouth.

Here’s a mouthwash you can make at home to treat the oral fungal infection thrush:


Thrush: An Oral Infection

Candidiasis and candida are terms used when we talk about thrush, a common oral infection. Men, women, and children can all contract thrush, and it’s important to be able to swiftly identify, or indeed rule out, the presence of this fungal infection. Our interventions will vary from person to person and will need to be adapted, as is the case in all of herbal medicine, to each individual’s age and well-being.

A Mouthwash for Thrush/Candidiasis

Overcoming a candida overgrowth often necessitates changes in our oral health regime as well as a personalized systemic protocol. Additionally, barley water, blended with half teaspoons of barberry, calendula, goldenseal, and red clover, make an effective oral rinse in the case of a thrush infection.

To make barley water, use 1 cup of barley to 4 cups water; simmer, covered, 20 to 30 minutes. Reserve the liquid after straining, and use it as a basis for mouth rinses. Additionally, the resulting liquid can be drunk freely each day, while the leftover barley can be added to food. It’s important to remember that, while barley water can be drunk freely as a beverage, when used as a rinse, it is never swallowed.

With any thrush infection, barley water can be used to moderate the pH of the mouth and support the digestive system as a whole. Also, marshmallow and yarrow tea can be used as a wash, a rinse, or both. Finally, as a reminder, slippery elm may exacerbate symptoms of thrush.

World-renowned herbalist, naturopath, and educator Mary Bove suggests the following herbal treatment for thrush (Bove 2001):

Swab the mouth multiple times daily with an infusion of 1 oz. (30 ml) warm water, to which is added 5 drops each of tinctures of black walnut (Juglans nigra), bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis), and spilanthes (Spilanthes spp.); follow with a Lactobacillus bifidus solution (1 capsule to 4 oz. warm water per day) as a daily wash until symptoms disappear.

See the rest of the herbal remedies for maladies here.