Cold sores are annoying and painful lesions that occur due to an outbreak of the herpes virus – usually HSV – 1. Over 30% of people have experienced cold sores and there are even more people that carry the virus. Once the herpes virus is contracted it remains in the body for life. It resides in the facial nerve branches and can be opportunistically reactivated by stress or damage.
Cold sore breakouts commonly occur when the body is run down, the immune system is under strain or you are nutritionally depleted. They can also be triggered by physical damage to the lips from sun exposure, very cold weather, kissing, microdermabrasion or dental surgery.
How do you treat cold sores naturally?
The natural treatment of cold sores is focused around removing the risk factors. Our naturopaths and acupuncturists work to help cold sore patients deal with stress more effectively, most their immune systems and support their health using herbs and nutritional supplements. In particular, immune boosting and antiviral herbs can be helpful to prevent outbreaks or to clear up lesion faster.
Topically, lemon balm essential oil is very useful. Applying a 20/80 lemon balm essential oil and coconut oil blend to your lips and surrounding areas at the first onset of the cold sore (when you get burning or tingling in the prodromal phase) and throughout the day to assist with healing can help to shorten the duration of the outbreak.
Lysine and Arginine role in cold sores
The herpes virus requires the amino acid arginine in order to replicate. Lysine on the other hand, has an inhibitory action on arginine, starving the cold sore virus of arginine which inhibits replication.
Using the amino acid L-Lysine can help to suppress the herpes virus, due to this inhibiting relationship with Arginine. Taking 1000mg of L-Lysine daily for prevention can help, and up to 1000 mg four times a day for an active treatment. Pairing this with some zinc and vitamin C can help with the tissue healing process.
What foods can prevent cold sores?
Foods that support your immune system can help to prevent outbreaks. In particular, berries, lemons, pineapple, onions and garlic may be useful. Read more about boosting your immunity here.
Foods higher in L-Lysine such as mung beans, fish, eggs and red meat can also help.
What foods can cause cold sores?
As mentioned above, the herpes virus requires the amino acid arginine to replicate. When you eat foods that are high in arginine, and in particular, those that have high arginine to lysine ratio, you can feed the virus and cause or exacerbate an outbreak..
These foods can trigger the herpes virus to activate:
- Nuts (especially almonds, peanuts and cashews)
- Rice (can be high in a gluten free diet)
If you need help with cold sores call Brisbane Natural Health on 07 3367 0337 and make an appointment with one of our Naturopaths now.