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 reading this post for a better idea of what it means.) 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, cod liver oil (NOT fermented- that stuff is just rancid!) and grass-fed dairy. Dr. Weston A. Price used cod liver oil, along with a healthy meal every day, to actually heal dental decay in children in the early 1900’s!
  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:
  • The first thing I would start is something I already do on occasion. Oil pulling. Basically, you put a spoonful of organic coconut oil in you mouth and gently swish it around your mouth for up to 20 minutes. I like to add a drop of peppermint oil. After swishing, spit the oil in the trash (not the sink) and gently floss and brush. Some people say to do this first thing in the morning, but that is unrealistic for my life. I oil pull at night when getting ready for bed.
  • 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 three). 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.

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!

23 thoughts on “Natural Remedies for Abscesses

  1. Dani says:

    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! 🙂

  2. Kathleen says:

    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!!

  3. Heather says:

    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.

  4. lisa says:

    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.

  5. Timothy says:

    For the Ben clay used to treat tooth infection.. What is the least amount of time a person should leave it on at a time? How many times a day? Any other advice for a new experimenter?

    • Since I’m not a doctor, I can’t give out medical advice. However, in that situation I would put some on right before bed (not for children, just adults) and then probably after each meal. Really, I’d try to keep some on there at all times, except when it would be really inconvenient, like when eating or if leaving the house.

  6. A very quick and effective way to deal with abscesses, no matter how bad they are: Take about a teaspoon of 99% pure DMSO and dilute it with an equal amount of distilled water (MUST be distilled water to ensure no impurities are present). Add 2 drops of potassium iodide (eg. Lugol’s iodine). Dip a q-tip into the solution and paint onto the abscess. Within 15-20 minutes the swelling will start to come down. Within about 12 hours all signs of the abscess will be gone.

  7. Jen says:

    I had terrible tooth pain for days. Swollen gum near impacted wisdom tooth face was painful too. Read about placing raw garlic slices on gym and inside cheeks. Pain stopped and sweing stopped within hours. Miracle worker!!

  8. Leah says:

    I have cured two dental abscesses by using oregano. It’s very simple, cheap, easily obtainable and most people already have a dried version in the cupboards. I had read that it was a powerful antibiotic, anti viral and anti fungal so I looked it up to see if it may work for my abcess, however, every website recommended oregano oil, which I just didn’t have. So, for those that don’t either, just make a tea with the dried leaves. I couldn’t see why this wouldn’t work just as well, and I have to say, the results were amazing.

    Put two to three table spoons in a mug and pour over hot, not boiling, water to around two thirds full. Cover and leave for at least 20 minutes. Strain the tea and drink whist swilling each mouthful several times around the affected area.

    I used this every couple of hours or AT LEAST 3 to 4 times a day until the infection healed. I always made my tea the day before too as I found that it was much stronger when left steeping for 12 plus hours. However, on the first day don’t worry about this. Twenty minutes will do – just get it in you! You can then make a tea up for the next day that will be much stronger. I just left my infusion steeping at room temperature and drank it like that the next day. If you want to heat up please don’t microwave. Also, use the least amount of heat possible for the shortest amount of time as you can destroy the properties of the plant. If the temperature doesn’t bother you then just drink as is.

    The only other treatment I used was hydrogen peroxide. I cleaned all of my mouth utensils with it and swilled a couple of times a day with it too. I also brushed every time I ate to remove food debris.
    Oregano has been scientifically proven to kill bacteria. I honestly think it is one of the strongest natural antibiotics I have come across. I love the fact that it is cheap, easily found and so effective even in dried form (the first time I tried this my oregano had been in the cupboard about 4 years! It still did a great job – what a fantastic herb! Obviously I bought a fresh batch after that)

  9. Nevada Smith says:

    I would like to receive notice when new comments are posted but don’t really have one to leave myself. I had two root canals many years ago and now in my late 60s I’m having health problems that I feel stem from bacteria still in those root canals such as skin cancer, blood vessel inflammation and clots and also recurring infections from an unfound source. I plan on using iodine to deal with these problems until I can get the root canaled teeth extracted.

  10. Nevada Smithn says:

    How about oil pulling with coconut oil with a number of drops of Lugol’s solution added to it? This could be done one to three times a day or more.

  11. Khan70 says:

    I have eaten twice a day the pine/cedar-gum/resin consecutive 4 days for the treatment of perianal abscess. It is effective than antibiotics. I have tried both.

  12. Dorothy Bradley says:

    I developed a gum/tooth abscess on Thursday which kept me awake all of Friday night to the point where I almost phoned the Dr on call. Not wanting to be a nuisance, I held off & on Sat starting googling ‘natural antibiotics.’ So yesterday & since I have been eating raw garlic in a little natural yogurt along with dabbing Nascene Iodine around the abscess. The pain has subsided a little & I’m giving it until Monday to see if I can avoid a dentist – I will report back when / if it heals naturally. I came across your blog this morning while googling recipes for what to do with leftover juices from a roast beef? And I can say, I believe God has led me to your site. Many of the articles you have written I can relate to – and the fact that I have an abscess just put the icing on the cake when I came across this post. I’ve just written out the hours, like you recommended for the time you need each day to get things done. With just basic things & no social time or time allowed for travelling I need 25 hours & I had plans in my head to open a coffee/craft place in my sunroom!! I’ve jotted down a realistic timetable for this week for 24 hours & it will be amended each week until I get to the stage where life is not a chore. I will take 15 mins each night before bedtime to read the rest of your blog but ‘Thank you’ for taking the time to share it – I have a friend who I will be sharing it with who will so appreciate the articles here too! From Sunny Northern Ireland!!

    • I hope you’ve been able to fight that infection, Dorothy! How are you feeling? I’ve also found echinacea capsules to be amazingly helpful when trying to fight infections of any kind.

      Isn’t the exercise of writing out the time for tasks in a day enlightening?? Since I did that and cut out so many “extra” things, my life has slowed down considerably and I am feeling far less stressed. I do hope you find your perfect balance of activity and rest. 🙂

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