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Can yeast extracts, such as vegemite and marmite treat ulcers within your mouth?

  • 3
    Sir, have your last three questions been about vegemite? – David Hedlund May 26 '11 at 12:35
  • @David: Too right, mate! Actually, no: I added the tag yeast-extract to another person's question. – Andrew Grimm May 26 '11 at 12:38
  • Ah, I stand corrected. Not that I disapprove, anyway. 'tis mere contemplation. – David Hedlund May 26 '11 at 12:40
  • @Oddthinking: What's wrong with the yeast-extract tag? – Andrew Grimm May 29 '11 at 1:51
  • A brief Google search suggests that Vegemite and Marmite contain chemicals similar to L-lysine. L-lysine is commonly used to reduce/prevent mouth ulcers. – Daniel R Hicks Mar 20 at 12:21
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I found many personal anecdotes recommending Vegemite and/or Marmite for mouth ulcers. However, I have not found a study that shows that Vegemite and/or Marmite actually work. I also found a personal anecdote that Marmite actually caused and worsened ulcers.

However, vitamin B12 has been associated with Apthous ulcers (a.k.a canker sores - one of two types of mouth ulcer) in two ways:

So, that raises the question whether the application of Vegemite or Marmite may help through the ingestion of B12.

Vegemite, however, contains no B12! [Source: Wikipedia, and not contradicted by the jar of Vegemite I consulted, that lists B1, B2 and B3 levels.] Marmite, on the other hand, is rich in B12. [Source: Wikipedia]

In conclusion, I found no scientific evidence that Vegemite or Marmite might help ulcers topically (although I may have missed it). I found a plausible mechanism where a diet rich in B12 (including Marmite, but not aided by Vegemite) might assist in reducing the recurrence of Aphthous ulcers.

I would highly recommend consulting a doctor (who has a wide range of clinically-tested treatments to address mouth ulcers), rather than relying on ill-considered folk remedies you hear about on the web.

  • Salt is a reasonable antiseptic, and the products mentioned have a high salt content. Anecdotally, when I suffered from mouth ulcers, I put salt on them and it worked just as well to speed up healing as any other product I tried. In fact I preferred it. A mouth rinse with warm saltwater can work too, and is recommended by some dentists. Not for everyone though, as it is painful to put salt on effectively an open wound. It is possible those suggesting using marmite are talking about applying it direct to the ulcer, and the salt content is having a similar effect. – Neil Slater Mar 20 at 10:24
  • Here is a random example of suggestion to use salt water mouth rinse: colgate.com/en-us/oral-health/conditions/… – Neil Slater Mar 20 at 10:27
  • And here is something more authoritative and suitable for Skeptics: ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24314857 – Neil Slater Mar 20 at 10:28

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