Canker Sores Quickly Cured by Walnuts: More Evidence for Importance of Omega-3

A reader of this blog named PSB, who lives in New Jersey, told me the following:

I’m 52.  I happen to like walnuts and was snacking on them and noticed the pain from canker sores was lessened.  I kept eating [walnuts] the next couple days and found the sores healed quickly, painlessly and were gone within a few days. They usually take quite a while to go away. The walnut thing was accidental and just from observation noticing the change in the sores. The sores are still gone and although I haven’t been eating lots of walnuts, I usually grab them here and there.

Her daughter “has suffered from canker sores for years . . . [and] gets multiple at a time and they are usually very painful.” Her daughter is resistant to eating walnuts. I asked why. “Doesn’t listen to her mother, knows it all and I sometimes thinks she prefers to complain. Other than that, no real reason, hahaha,” said PSB.

I’ve blogged before (here and here) about canker sores cured by omega-3. Walnuts are high in omega-3, supporting what I said. The Mayo Clinic lists eight possible causes of canker sores, including “A diet lacking in Vitamin B-12, zinc, folate (folic acid) or iron”. Nothing about omega-3.

14 Responses to “Canker Sores Quickly Cured by Walnuts: More Evidence for Importance of Omega-3”

  1. dearieme Says:

    Walnuts and goat’s cheese make a tasty combination.

  2. Vic Says:

    Walnuts are also high in omega-6. And didn’t you blog before that walnuts didn’t help your sleep or brain activity, or something? I could be misremembering…

    Seth: Right. Eating walnuts did not help me. Nor did it help 3 of my students. In each case, the measurements were brain-related. Perhaps brain-related measurements are more sensitive to omega-6 content than canker sores. It’s also possible that if you begin an experiment high in omega-3, walnuts have a different effect than if you begin low in omega-3.

  3. Chuck Says:

    Walnuts are also a good source of folate, iron and zinc – no B-12. Even though they have the highest level of n-3 than any other nut, they have four times higher omega-6.

    However: “Along with omega-3 fatty acids, walnuts contain ellagic acid. Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center reports that ellagic acid contains antiviral and antibiotic properties and is now found to have anticancer properties as well.” – via Livestrong.

    So it could be the antiviral and/or the antibiotic properties at work here. Or a combination of all of the above.

    Cheers

  4. Kevin Says:

    I suffer from frequent and painful canker sores. I will give walnuts a try; there is very little available for conventional treatments, and “eating more walnuts” certainly won’t hurt.

    Seth: I hope you’ll let me know what happens, either way (helps or doesn’t help).

  5. Alex Says:

    Haven’t had any canker sores since starting Paleo back in 2011. Used to get them once a month before that.

    Seth: When you started paleo, did you increase or decrease or leave unchanged your omega-3 intake?

  6. Morex Says:

    I have been 3 months in SLD and my jaw just hit the floor.

    Since I was a kid I have always suffered of painful canker sores. I’ve been having them all my life…

    But now that I’m reading this, I realized I haven’t had any canker sore in my 3 months doing SLD.

    I have been taking 4 tablespoons of canola oil a day. I was careful to choose a brand with more omega-3 than others.

    I am very impressed and happy :)

  7. dearieme Says:

    My wife has a bottle of walnut oil in the kitchen. She uses it for salad dressings and when preparing a chicken for roasting.

  8. chris Says:

    Suffered for 30 years with canker sores….problem was cow’s milk…eliminated from diet haven’t had a canker sore in a decade. RAST and skin tests were negative for milk allergy/sensitivity FWIW.

  9. Jake Says:

    I was a chronic sufferer of canker sores since childhood. Four years ago I gave up wheat and have not had one canker sore since.

  10. Greg Says:

    Canker sores can be treated medically with amlexanox, an anti-inflammatory, which lends support to the approach of addressing the immune system, via anti-inflammatory diets or omega-3 supplementation. And walnuts apparently contain anti-inflammatory compounds in addition to their omega-3s.

  11. Alex Says:

    >Seth: When you started paleo, did you increase or decrease or leave unchanged your omega-3 intake?

    Increased n-3 pretty significantly. Eating about a pound of salmon a week, sardines, some supplementation (LEF Mega EPA/DHA)… about 3-4g/day of n-3 and less than 10g of n-6 according to Chron-o-meter.

    Seth: Thanks. Supports more omega-3 –> fewer canker sores idea.

  12. LV Says:

    Like others I found my lifelong canker sores (or mouth ulcers as we call them in the UK) stopped when I stopped eating gluten. That was three years ago and the only ones I’ve had since have followed accidental gluten ingestion. Prior to this I was eating a broadly Weston Price style diet (including oily fish and cod liver oil) for several years; if there was any improvement on moving to this from a standard ‘healthy’ western diet it was modest – I wasn’t looking for and don’t recall noticing any significant change.

    Are the people who do see improvement from increasing omega-3 actually deficient in omega-3 as such, or do they need more omega-3 to correct an underlying state of inflammation? Are they eating diets generally deficient in omega-3 compared to people who never get canker sores?

    Seth: I think as a matter of definition if eating more omega-3 cures canker sores then you were deficient in omega-3. That’s how deficiency is usually defined. I see your point, however, which is that even if omega-3 cures the canker sores there may be other ways to improve matters.

  13. Paul N Says:

    LV wrote;
    “Are the people who do see improvement from increasing omega-3 actually deficient in omega-3 as such, or do they need more omega-3 to correct an underlying state of inflammation? ”

    I’m sure there are many cases where the underlying inflammation is the cause. Wheat/gluten (or soy) causing trouble is a good example – does any amount of omega 3 make wheat “safe” – probably not.

    SO, if you are eating toxins, omega 3 might mitigate some or even all of the effects, but better to remove the toxins first.

    Similarly for other deficiencies, like magnesium, or (especially) K2, omega 3 can only do so much.

    The current fad where fish oil is being sold as a cure all is, in many cases, simply creating “licensing” behaviour, where people continue to eat badly, but think its OK because they are taking fish oil.

  14. Nate Says:

    How can you tell which brand of canola has more omega-3′s?

    Thanks