Natural Remedies for Abscesses

I ran across a post yesterday from a lady with questions about natural alternatives to antibiotics for an abscessed tooth. After my own experience, I did some research into what I would do if it happened to me again, so I decided to share what I learned in hopes of helping other people. :-)

Disclaimers would normally be a the bottom of a post, but abscesses can be very serious medical conditions (people have actually died from them!), so please bear with me for a few seconds…

  • What I’m sharing today are only things that I plan to use in the event of another abscessed tooth. I am not a medical professional, so please consider trying to find a naturopathic doctor or dentist to monitor your condition.
  • During pregnancy, or in the case of small children, some of these remedies are too strong. I will add a summary of what I would use during pregnancy at the end of the post.

Alright, I’m done being all “gloom and doom”, so let’s talk solutions!

  1. The first thing on my list might surprise you… I’d change my diet! Currently, we eat about 90% “real” food (we occasionally eat out or order in), but we do use natural sweeteners, which I would cut out entirely. That isn’t because of the whole “sugar on the teeth causes bacteria to grow, which causes decay” theory. Sugar takes more from our bodies than it gives, so it’s overall effect is depleting minerals. (If you are new to “real” foods, I recommend one of my favorite blogs to learn more since I don’t yet have my “real” foods series posted. Check out www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com where Sarah has put together, not only tons of tutorials and research, but a wide array of delicious recipes!) I would also strictly limit my grain intake due to phytic acid and other anti-nutrients that can deplete minerals.
    The things I would increase are bone broth, fermented cod liver oil and high vitamin butter oil. If you are unfamiliar with the oils, please do look into them. Dr. Weston A. Price used them, along with a healthy meal every day, to actually heal dental decay in children in the early 1900’s! I’m currently taking them to help my baby, who is due in seven weeks, to develop strong bones and teeth and a healthy brain.
  2. My second line of defense would be to boost my immune system. I really appreciate Siberian Ginseng (Eleuthero root) and Astragalus root for that. They are non-toxic, so I’m comfortable taking them while pregnant or nursing. I take the encapsulated powder and just follow the dosages on the bottles.
  3. Finally, after giving my body a boost with diet and the oils and supplements above, I would pull out my herbs and natural remedies. If the goals is to draw out the infection, kill the bacteria and heal the damaged tissue, here’s the plan:
  • Bentonite clay has amazing “drawing” properties, so I would put it to work for me while adding a couple of drops of tea tree oil to soak into the gum and kill bacteria. To use the clay, mix a teaspoon in a small cup with warm water until you have a thick paste. Never use metal to mix, as this will destroy the “charge” of the clay. Add one or two drops of tea tree oil and mix well. Apply to the gum between the gum and cheek, and be careful not to swallow it (bentonite clay is actually a wonderful remedy for internal use, but we really don’t want to be swallowing essential oils). If it helps, a small square of gauze can be placed over the clay to keep it in place. This can be left on for as long as you’re willing to have a chunk of clay in your cheek!
  • My next step would be to make an herbal mix for making poultices. My “drawing” herb of choice is plantain, so I would start with a cup of that in a bowl. For their antibiotic properties, I’d add ¼ cup each of juniper berries, Echinacea root, goldenseal, St. John’s Wort, peppermint, cloves, chamomile and calendula (or any combination, but I’d really recommend the first two). Keep the herb mix in an air-tight container away from heat and light. Cheese cloth can be used, but a small square of an old cotton t-shirt might work better for the poultice. To make the poultice, put about 2 tablespoons of the herbal mix in a small heat-proof cup or bowl. Pour just enough boiling water over it to cover the herbs and let it steep until it’s cool enough to handle. Scoop the herbs onto the square of fabric and fold the sides over (like a burrito). Place the poultice between the cheek and gum and keep it there for a couple of hours. You can then repeat with fresh herbs, or alternate with the other treatments. Another alternative would be to soak a cotton ball in the liquid from steeping the herbs and stick that in the cheek, so don’t dump that “tea”. It would also make a good mouth wash right before bed.
  • I would also make careful use of essential oils. Chamomile essential oil has a strong drawing effect and lemon and tea tree are antiseptic. As I said before, essential oils are very strong and we really don’t want to be swallowing them, so I’d make a mouth wash and swish several times a day for as long as possible, but especially right before bed. Since I haven’t made this, I would start with 1 cup of very warm water, 1 tablespoon of Celtic sea salt and 2 drops of each of the essential oils. If I was sure that I could handle a stronger concentration without a bad reaction, I might increase the essential oils by a few drops each.

During pregnancy, I’d use the clay, without the tea tree oil. I’d use the herbal mixture except for the juniper berries and the goldenseal. I would do a Celtic sea salt mouth wash, but instead of the essential oils, I’d use a hot tea made from the herbs. I would also increase my fermented cod liver oil and high vitamin butter oil above the minimum dose… maybe even double it. Astragalus root would be my first choice, but I might include the Siberian Ginseng, too.

Abscesses can be just under the gum and not involve the tooth at all, or they can be deep under the gum at the root of a tooth. The length of time for treatment would completely depend on how serious the abscess is. Something mild might completely clear up in a few days, but a serious infection could take daily treatment for several weeks. My plan is to have a naturopathic dentist keep an eye on things for me, if I ever have another abscessed tooth. I would alternate the treatments above during my waking hours, although I have heard of people keeping herbal poultices in overnight. That would be a choking hazard, so please think it through carefully.

If you’re new to herbs and don’t know what companies are good, most of these herbs and the clay can be ordered from the Bulk Herb Store (the link is on the right side of my page, near the top), and they have always sent excellent quality herbs very quickly, in our experience. You can even do further research into the herbs on their website, if you’re interested.

The essential oils can be ordered from Mountain Rose Herbs, also linked in the sidebar. They are a wonderful company and I’ve been very happy with their products and service. They also provide some information about the history and uses of their products.

I very much hope that the research I did can help somebody else. Please do comment if you have other remedies that have worked for you, or if any of the above ideas help, so that others can benefit!

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15 comments to Natural Remedies for Abscesses

  • Dani

    I would think that oil pulling would help as well, as that has powerful drawing effects also. I was wondering how one could do a bentonite pack–don’t know why I didn’t think of gauze! I’ll file these tips away and hopefully never need them in the future!

    • I hope you never need them! I hadn’t heard of oil pulling at the time I wrote this post, but I completely agree that it would be a wonderful addition. I’d suggest organic coconut oil, since it has such amazing health benefits. Thanks so much for the comment, Dani! :-)

  • Kathleen

    I’m not sure how effective either of these remedies are (as I’ve never used either of them), but both are from my grandmother. First, for tooth pain, straight “oil of cloves” applied to the tooth and the surrounding gum will have a numbing effect. Second, take a small square of cheesecloth and pour a small amount of salt into the middle of the square. Tie the ends of square together with a piece of thread, so that no salt can get out. Dip the salt “bag” into vinegar to moisten. Apply bag to the infected tooth or gum. Now, my grandmother said that this will sting, but it will draw the infection out.

    • The clove oil is certainly good for numbing the pain. Some people really need to dilute it to avoid reacting to it and it shouldn’t be used during pregnancy, but it’s wonderful for most of us! :-)

      I have never heard about the salt and vinegar poultice! That is so fascinating!! I bet a “raw” vinegar would be especially helpful.

      Thanks so much for the tips, Kathleen!!

  • Heather

    Most of these sound great but I wouldn’t advocate using tea tree oil in the mouth. It can delay the healing process as it is very drying. The mouth is one of the fastest healing areas of the body and the tea tree oil applied as a poultice would inhibit the body’s natural healing process.
    As a person who had chronic abscesses for several years the combination of remedies I found most effective were frequent flossing and saltwater rinses (hourly), oil pulling with coconut oil, high vitamin C intake, and the most effective remedy BY FAR was to take goldenseal capsules and garlic capsules: 2 of each, 3X daily. Goldenseal is a natural antibiotic that effectively targets the mucosa (think sinus and mouth) and garlic has antibiotic properties and is a wonderful healing agent.
    Tea tree oil does have its place as an oral RINSE our home when properly diluted and used primarily for fungal applications like thrush.
    Bentonite clay, charcoal and Dr Bronner have absolutely changed my oral care routine and made a great improvement in my health.

  • Michele

    Garlic is really efficient. I cured an abscess with it.

  • lisa

    When I had that problem lasting for a few years, I just put a piece of softened propolis to the area and had it there overnight. I did it a few more times and it completely got better! Now many years later it is still fine. My mom did the same thing and it helped as well.

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