Herbal Remedies for Reducing Mouth Pain

Use these herbal remedies to relieve mouth pain and toothaches.


| June 2015



Oil and Cloves

Clove buds and essential oils can be applied topically to reduce mouth pain.


Photo by Fotolia/FomaA

Our oral health is intimately linked with our overall health and well-being. In Dental Herbalism (Healing Arts Press, 2014), medical herbalist Leslie M. Alexander and registered dental hygienist Linda A. Straub-Bruce detail how to use 41 safe and effective herbs for optimum oral health, prevention of decay and inflammation, and relief from pain and discomfort. This excerpt, which provides herbal remedies for relieving toothaches and other mouth pain, is from Chapter 12, “How to Prepare Herbal Remedies.”

Buy this book from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS store: Dental Herbalism.

Addressing Mouth Pain with Herbal Remedies and Essential Oils

There are many ways we can make pain and discomfort more manageable. Often a multipronged approach is more effective than relying on a single approach, especially if pain is severe. It’s important to realize that a great number of sensations often accompany the feeling of pain and it is not simply a painkiller or an anodyne that will “make someone feel better.” For example, we might also tense our muscles in response to pain; we might become unsettled, even frightened; we might feel cold or run a temperature; indeed, we might feel irritable due to inflammation and/or a pervading sense of discomfort; we might be sleep deprived or even hungry as pain in the mouth makes eating difficult; we might be temporarily dehydrated, and a heaviness or tightness may pervade. Nervines are particularly valuable additions when addressing discomfort.

Suggestions for relieving pain and discomfort follow.

• A clove bud can be placed on a painful spot within the mouth with a significant pain-reducing effect.
• Myrrh, clove, wintergreen, and peppermint essential oils applied topically in drop doses help ease discomfort.
• Willow has an effect often described, like wintergreen, as akin to aspirin and can be used for tenderness and general discomfort. It can be decocted or incorporated into a poultice, taken internally as a tincture, applied directly to the gums or externally on the skin, for example. It can also be blended with other herbs.
• Prickly ash, cayenne, turmeric, and yarrow can be applied topically in a poultice, either singly or in varying ratios, depending upon the individual and his or her level of discomfort. Like willow, these herbs can also be swabbed directly onto the gums. It is worth remembering that prickly ash is a sialagogue—too much in the mouth will cause excessive salivation.
• Infused oil of arnica can be applied externally, and homeopathic pellets can be dissolved under the tongue to help relieve inflammation.
• Roasted and ground turmeric can be massaged into aching teeth to eliminate pain and swelling. (Note: Turmeric yields a lovely yellow color like its rhizome, even in the mouth.)
• Rosemary Gladstar, a significant energy in the resurgence of herbalism in America, suggests for a toothache a combination of equal parts of organically grown goldenseal, myrrh, and turmeric. She suggests powdering the herbs and adding a drop of clove oil to make the powder into a thick paste before applying it topically as need be (Gladstar 1999).
• Chamomile and fennel teas, as well as chamomile and lavender, are soothing for teething infants. These can be administered directly to infants in teaspoon doses, or the benefits of the tea can be transferred by a nursing mother to an infant via breast milk. These teas can also be used to infuse chews, as discussed previously.
• For gingivitis and periodontitis, a paste (1 teaspoon of turmeric, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of mustard oil) can be rubbed on the teeth and gums twice daily to provide relief. (Again, turmeric may stain.)

Jean Valnet’s Toothache Remedy

A medical doctor and practitioner of aromatherapy for more than thirty years, Jean Valnet is regarded as one of the world’s foremost authorities on essential oil therapy. He offers us this formula for toothache (Valnet 1980):





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