All cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). This occurs when a virus enters a nerve cell and then forces it to create a new virus. The cell then explodes, releasing the cloned virus and at the same time creating a large open wound that we know as a cold sore. Once a person has become infected with the herpes simplex virus, it lies dormant in the nerve cells of the skin. Cold sore episodes are recurrent and are commonly triggered by:
- Fever (such as during a cold or flu)
- Emotional and physical stress
- Sun and wind damage
- Hormonal changes.
Treating Cold Sores with Amino AcidsResearchers have found that the ratio of the amino acid L-arginine to L-lysine in your body’s cells plays a very important part in managing cold sores. One of the main ingredients your cells must have to create a new herpes virus is Arginine. Your body’s cells have special receptors that they use to store Arginine. The same receptors are also used to store Lysine.
Arginine vs LysineLysine is a protein that is not able to be used to create a new virus, and if you have a diet rich in Lysine, your body’s cells will release some Arginine in order to store more Lysine. The herpes virus, wanting to clone itself, will keep away from the cells that cannot support the cloning process. Whenever your cells have a higher Lysine than Arginine content, your body is less likely to be able to create a new virus. This causes the herpes virus to return to a latent state. You are unable to develop a cold sore if the cells cannot support the creation of the virus.
Study shows Lysine helps reduce Cold Sore recurrenceIn most recent studies Lysine was given to a group of people in high doses (1000 milligrams three times daily), together with dietary restriction of foods high in Arginine – such as nuts and chocolate. The studies showed a significant reduction in recurrence of cold sores in 74% of people participating in this trial. If you are prone to cold sore outbreaks, taking a Lysine supplement regularly can really ease your symptoms. Studies have shown that Lysine is particularly effective in reducing the occurrence and severity of cold sore outbreaks, as well as speeding the healing time. References
- Braun and Cohen. Herbs and Natural Supplements, An evidence based guide. Elsevier. 2005; 269-270
- E-Medicine Health. 2013 http://www.emedicinehealth.com/cold_sores
- Natural Standard, Lysine, 2012. http://www.naturalstandard.com/