A mouthful of trouble

Mixed tomatoes“Can I make a blog post request?” asked one of my coworkers. “Before it gets too bad, can you write about how to avoid canker sores from eating too many tomatoes?”

It’s an affliction I know all too well. Last summer, it required me to turn to yellow tomatoes for gazpacho, just to get some less-acidic relief. There was, in fact, a point when my mouth was getting so bad I could barely open it. This saved all the Iowa natives from listening to me whine and moan about the winter, of course, but that’s really the only benefit I can see from the experience.

“I’ve done some research online,” said the coworker. “Some say to put it with other food, olive oil, or else stop eating them. But I don’t want to stop. I just want to be able to keep eating raw tomatoes.”

The fact is, no one should have to stop. The tomato season is so fleeting, as far as I’m concerned, and it is such a long stretch until it comes around again. So some remedies – preferably ones that don’t involve drinking sauerkraut juice – are in order.

While I never found any of the same theories online that my coworker found (thereby proving that Google skills are an art, not a science), I did find an awful lot of evidence that canker sores might be triggered by acidic foods like tomatoes, but, in actuality, are caused by a nutritional imbalance. That seems crazy to me, seeing how everything I eat in the summer is pretty much straight out of the ground or from the farmer’s market, and therefore I think of it as totally nutritious.

(OK, maybe the walking taco I scored from the Nacho Taco stand on the way home from seeing one of my new favorite local bands play does not count as highly nutritious, but the farmer’s market wasn’t going to open until 7:30 a.m., and I wasn’t planning to stay awake quite that long…)

However, what I’ve been reading is that calcium and vitamin B-12 deficiencies are some of the root causes of canker sores. Although B-12 is available in many animal products, including meat, seafood, eggs and milk, fortified breakfast cereal is apparently also an excellent source. And calcium, well, can be easily acquired through milk.

So, to my coworker, I have this advice: Take advantage of the free cereal bar that our company provides to us as one of our many perks. Pour up a bowl. Drink the milk when you’re done eating. And then go back to eating those cherry tomatoes by the bagful. Soon enough, the season will be over and we’ll be wishing we had such problems.

8 Responses to “A mouthful of trouble”

  1. 1 Jen-Ben September 8, 2007 at 3:18 pm

    Very interesting…I used to get canker sores all the time. But, in the last few years not so much. Could it be linked to my daily venti skim milk latte? Hmmm…scientific basis to support my Starbucks habit. I’ve got to tell Josh…

  2. 2 heyercapital September 8, 2007 at 10:04 pm

    If I have a mouthsore (biting a cheek, or whatever), I just pour salt on it and hold it for at least a minute. (Ambasol first helps.)

  3. 3 jackiesgarden September 8, 2007 at 11:57 pm

    Ain’t it the truth?! I guess a little pain is a small price to pay for fresh tomatoes. I think I’d buy chapstick and slather it on and see if that would keep the juice off. I’m sure glad they don’t bother me!

  4. 4 inadvertentgardener September 9, 2007 at 1:35 pm

    Jen-Ben, I think that sounds about as scientific as anything else I’ve heard. I definitely think you should tell Josh!

    Heyercapital, that’s a pretty hard-core solution. It kind of scares me!

    Jackie, you’re a lucky woman. I haven’t had as much trouble with them this year, though, so that’s good!

  5. 5 courtney September 10, 2007 at 12:36 pm

    I used to get them really bad in the winter, because I would eat alot of citrus (it’s really hard to live in Fl and not know several people with orange or grapefruit trees).

    We always used Kanka


    It works really well, I would just suggest applying it over the sink, because when it numbs the area, it sometimes makes you slobber.

  6. 6 inadvertentgardener September 10, 2007 at 4:07 pm

    Courtney, I’m a fan of the Kanka, and you’re so right about the weird foaming at the mouth…so bizarre!

  7. 7 Heather September 10, 2007 at 9:26 pm

    My husband planted 16 tomato plants for the two of us this year–believe me when I say I feel the pain. What works like a charm for me is several drops of tea tree oil (available at your natural foods store or some of the big box stores) mixed in a little dab of water and swished around as a mouthwash. It’s a natural antiseptic, and it works like a charm. No foaming, either!

  8. 8 inadvertentgardener September 10, 2007 at 10:39 pm

    Heather, that sounds like a terrific remedy! I love the way tea tree oil smells, too.

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