I was recently contacted by a family member for advice about an ailment that I know many people suffer from. In their e-mail to me they wrote, “I keep getting cold sores in my mouth and on my tongue. What do I need to do to get rid of them? Help!”
First of all I want to reiterate that I am not a doctor. I do however know that there are steps people can take to help heal their cold sores and to help prevent an outbreak in the first place. One popular supplement to take in an effort to cure an outbreak is lysine. Lysine is an essential amino acid. When I say essential, I mean that our body does not produce this amino acid on its own, rather we need to obtain it through our diet. Lysine has been shown to be effective against the spread of the Herpes virus, however it will not be effective if we have too much of another amino acid in our body, arginine. It appears that these two amino acids fight against each other for space in our guts. If the arginine outnumbers the lysine, the lysine will be ineffective.
According to About.com’s Alternative Medicine section, the proper dosage of supplemental lysine during an active episode is 1000mg 3 times a day. Once the cold sores have healed, the maintenance dose is 1250mg per day. When looking for a lysine supplement it is important to buy a supplement that is pure and not synthetic. Also try to buy a lysine supplement that includes zinc, vitamin C, and bioflavinoids since these seems to work synergistically (Source: http://www.herpes-coldsores.com/amino-acid-lysine-for-herpes.html).
To aid the effectiveness of the lysine treatment, it is important to consume as many high lysine foods as possible and to avoid high arginine food sources. I found conflicting information with regards to wheat germ and legumes. Some sources list them as high in arginine and others list them as high in lysine. Confusing. Click here for a list of high lysine and high arginine foods.
It is also important to note that the following have shown promise in the fight against cold sores, bee propolis, resveratrol cream, peppermint oil, and lemon balm.
**Do you have a questions for Grettie? She is here to answer any of your health and nutrition related questions! Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org .**
Gretchen Tseng is a Nutrition Specialist with Certification in Plant-Based Nutrition through Cornell University. At a young age she experienced a series of illnesses which propelled her to seek nutrition based solutions. Gretchen is absolutely passionate about sharing the health benefits of a plant-based lifestyle and can be found doing so through her website Veggie Grettie at www.veggiegrettie.com . Gretchen lives in Southern California with her husband, two children, and 4 legged best bud. She dreams of living on a farm someday surrounded by animals and the most amazing organic garden she can imagine.