Reprint from The General Practitioner (Official publication of the Pennsylvania Academy of General Dentistry)
Simple, safe, effective solutions to many health and dental problems already exist. These methods are based on the common roots of traditional western and eastern medicine. Among these are dietary healing and herbal medicine. They have been and are currently successfully practiced by hundreds of thousands of people to improve all kinds of health conditions.
Our eating habits play a major role in many common diseases including diseases of the mouth and teeth. Most Americans have a limited awareness of the power of food in maintaining health and reversing disease. Proper diet is the most basic and practical way to change our condition. The food we eat becomes our blood, affecting the quality of cells, tissues, organs, bones, and the mind.
Calcium and all other vitamins and minerals are important factors in bone and dental health. All of the nutrients critical to bone health are also essential for teeth. Many people are taking large doses of calcium without addressing the cause of calcium loss. Excess calcium, occurring from over-supplementation of calcium pills, can result in loss of other minerals in the body, especially iron, zinc and manganese.
Nutrient malabsorption due to a weak digestive system is also a factor. Calcium inhibitors include coffee, refined sugar, excess protein, especially meat, eggs and dairy, as well as alcohol, marijuana, cigarettes and other intoxicants, and some prescription medications. Sweets, highly processed and refined foods, fatty, sticky and acid-producing foods increase the risk of tooth decay, enamel erosion, gum disease and poor overall health.
Other risk factors include excess aluminum intake such as buffered aspirin, aluminum-containing antacids, aluminum cookware, baking powders and antiperspirants. These vegetables inhibit calcium: tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant and bell peppers. They contain the calcium inhibitor solanine. Emotional stress and tension contribute to loss of minerals leading to poor bone and dental health.
The best foods for healthy bones and teeth include high chlorophyll foods such as cooked leafy green vegetables including kale, collard greens, turnip greens, broccoli, bok choy, watercress, parsley, dandelion greens. Green plants have the greatest concentration of calcium of any food, second to sea vegetables.
Supplemental high chlorophyll products such as wheat or barley grass products, micro-algae, spirulina, wild blue-green algae and chlorella have a significant impact on the body’s magnesium levels and calcium utilization if used regularly.
If you’re feeling adventurous, try sea vegetables such as kelp, nori, wakame, arame, or dulse. Rich in all nutrients they are beneficial for strong bones and teeth. They are available in natural food stores and you’ll find recipes here.
Beans, including soybeans and their by-products (miso, soy sauce, tofu, tempeh); mung, aduki, black and lima beans; whole grains, especially buckwheat, millet, barley and rice; fish, and many vegetables, nuts and seeds are all dense in all nutrients necessary for healthy teeth. When these foods become the foundation for your diet, cravings for unhealthy foods diminish.
There are many people who simply have no interest in eating a healthy diet that provides all the vitamins, minerals, and enzymes necessary for good health. They may want to consider a program of nutritional supplements consisting of Vitamin A in the form of beta carotene; Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Calcium and Magnesium, manganese, zinc, silicon and boron. Vitamin E should also be considered and can be massaged into the gums.
Co-enzyme Q10 has been shown in clinical trials to have good results for periodontal disease. 30-50 mg of CoQ10 daily can help reverse periodontal disease. Even better is Quercenol. There are many herbs that enhance dental health. It’s best to consult with a qualified health professional before beginning a supplement and/or herbal regime.
Natural Remedies for a Toothache
Once a problem has developed, there are some effective natural remedies for specific problems. For toothache:
- Apply the essential oil of clove to relieve pain from toothaches, canker sores, teething and tooth and gum abscesses. For thousands of years herbalists have been using this potent essential oil to relieve tooth pain. Mix 15-20 drops of clove oil to a teaspoon of olive oil or other vegetable oil and apply with a cotton swab to the tooth and surrounding gum. Do not use undiluted, as it can be irritating to the skin and gums.
- Apply cayenne pepper to the toothache. Use a few grains or a drop of the concentrate. It will initially sting but will dull the pain and reduce inflammation. You can reduce the hotness by adding peppermint oil or myrrh to the cayenne.
- Place a clove of peeled garlic on the tooth for about an hour.
- Use a solution of 3% hydrogen peroxide (food grade) with salt water in a ratio of 1:4 to rinse the teeth and gums.
- Essential oil of peppermint, cinnamon, and eucalyptus also have a topical analgesic effect.
- The following herbs can be used as a poultice or compress topically: Echinacea, ginger, aloe, chamomile, comfrey or yarrow. Moisten the dried herbs, place inside cheesecloth, and apply to the toothache. Or add 10-15 drops of herbal concentrate or tincture to some warm water, dip a cloth in the solution, and apply to the toothache.
- Some herbalists recommend applying drops of Echinacea tincture on the tooth every 15 minutes. Echinacea activates the immune system and initiates the body’s healing response. You can also combine it with myrrh for additional pain-relieving properties.
Natural Antibiotics and Antivirals
Certain herbs such as Echinacea, Myrrh, Goldenseal, and Astragalus have antibiotic and antiviral properties and are effective for relieving mouth and gum infections. These can be taken internally or applied as a poultice externally. Isatis Gold is highly recommended for bacterial and viral infections. Coptis Purge Fire treats tooth abscess and works well. A qualified herbalist should be consulted for herbal recommendations that match the constitution and condition of the patient.
If taking antibiotics, acidophilus supplements should be taken daily to restore the intestinal flora. Antibiotics kill friendly microorganisms that your intestines need for proper functioning and harmful bacteria and microorganisms can proliferate causing fungi and yeast infections. Eating whole foods high in fiber can enhance the positive effects of acidophilus on intestinal flora. I like Culturelle Digestive Health Probiotic because they are proven to survive stomach acid.
To help heal infections and abscesses use at least 96% pure aloe gel. Calendula is analgesic and antibiotic and can be used as a mouthwash combined with water. Tea Tree oil is a potent disinfectant. Add 5 drops to 1/3 cup warm water and use as a mouth rinse. One tablespoon of 3% food grade hydrogen peroxide in 8 ounces of water is also a healing mouth rinse.
The possibilities are endless within natural healing. It’s important to remember that disease does not assert itself on us. The condition of our health and our lives for the most part is a result of the choices we have made. Often problems result from a lack of fundamental health-enhancing qualities; lack of ongoing attention to self-care and prevention; and lack of understanding of food and health.
When problems and disease are artificially removed and symptomatically treated without changing the underlying cause, long-term balanced health will not be achieved. The “whole” or the foundation may collapse. I’m not suggesting that you abandon medical treatment. I am recommending that you look for the deeper causes of the problem and investigate and implement new choices that will enhance your “whole” health. Lasting solutions can be found to the multiple ills of society when treated holistically.
Medical treatments and all other therapies are more effective when based on a solid dietary foundation. A healthy diet is the most practical and least invasive way to recover your health and prevent future problems, and is the best way to begin.
Consider some professional guidance for the right nutrition and customized holistic health plan forreversing your health and weight issues, and removing the degenerations that cause them. You can greatly improve every aspect of your physical, mental and emotional health with a customized holistic approach. Schedule a Holistic Health and Nutrition session with Deborah Barr, 35-year Holistic Health and Nutrition Counselor. You’ll be on your way to better health.
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