Cold sores are fluid-filled blisters that occur on the gums and the lips. They are caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). The primary herpes infection usually occurs in children and young adults. It is usually asymptomatic but high fever, swollen lymph nodes and fatigue may be present. Recurrences are common in adults and can be triggered by sun exposure, fever, menstruation, stress, upper respiratory infection and other illness. Blisters are contagious and may continue to be contagious even in the absence of visible cold sores. Cold sores must be differentiated from Canker Sores, which commonly occur on the tongue and walls of the mouth, syphilis, carcinoma, hand-foot-mouth disease and erythema multiforme.
1) Lysine and Arginine
A diet that is high in lysine and low in arginine has been found to be helpful. In vitro studies indicate that the amino acid arginine is required by the herpes virus to replicate. Since lysine competes with arginine for intestinal transport, a diet rich in lysine (brewer’s yeast, legumes-beans, dairy, wheat germ, fish and meat) and low in arginine may have an antiviral effect. Chocolate, peanuts and almonds are high in arginine and should be avoided. In addition to dietary changes, lysine supplements are recommended. A dose of 1,000 mg taken three times a day has been shown to be effective. This approach is not curative but can help prevent recurrences.
SPECIAL NOTE: Whether the virus can act up or not depends on the RATIO of the amino acids lysine to arginine. Arginine triggers the virus into hyperactivity; thus, taking extra lysine changes this ratio and subdues them. It’s obviously extremely important, then, to avoid foods that are high in arginine if you want to avoid an outbreak. The three main culprits (foods highest in arginine) are chocolate, nuts, and gelatin. (Yes, gelatin, so taking lysine in a gelatin capsule is a waste of money and effort! The production of such a conflict should not be allowed!
Brussels sprouts, corn, oats, and to a lesser extent wheat also are higher in arginine than lysine, but aren’t nearly as herpes-happy as the three foods listed above.
2) Zinc. Topical applications of zinc can reduce symptoms and prevent recurrences. It is applied directly to the skin at the site of the flare-up. Natural health practitioners may also recommend oral zinc supplements.
3) Lemon Balm. Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) has antiviral properties. In a research study conducted in hospitals and dermatology clinics in Germany, lemon balm cream promoted the healing of blisters in 5 days compared to 10 days in the control group. Used on regularly, lemon balm cream can decrease the frequency of recurrences.
4) Other treatments. Supporting the immune system should be the primary goal of therapy. Natural health practitioners often use thymus extracts, vitamin C, herbs and recommend exercise.
NOTE: Do NOT Share Your Lip Balm with anyone else.
Cold Sores are contagious.