Today’s post features special guest writer Carrie Shannon. Carrie is the publisher of YourColdSoreRemedies.com, a website devoted to providing information on how to effectively and safely treat cold sores and fever blisters which affect many of us. Cold sores are a really common and really annoying problem and typical antiviral medications are costly and often are accompanied by side effects which contribute to inflammation and toxic buildup in the body. Because of this, I always recommend that people try treating naturally as soon as they feel them coming on to prevent them from spreading. Read on for some great tips from Carrie.
Natural Treatments for Cold Sores
Cold sores are painful and unsightly lesions that appear around the mouth, usually on the lips and chin, caused by the highly contagious herpes simplex virus. There are 2 versions of this particular strain of the virus: Type 1 and Type 2. Type 1 is what causes cold sores, while Type 2 appears on the genital area.
The life span of a cold sore is 10 to 14 days, but there are some natural treatments that have been known to shorten the healing period. If a cold sore lasts more than 14 days and does not seem to be getting better, you should go to your healthcare provider to have it looked at. Here are some great natural solutions to the cold sore problem:
Lysine is an essential amino acid that your body can’t synthesize so you must get it from your diet. The function of Lysine is to manufacture proteins which our body needs, to create antibodies and enzymes, to fight of infections such as the herpes simplex virus. Lysine can be found in food sources such as meat, soy products, and dairy products. A few examples of foods that contain lysine are beef, chicken, turkey, eggs, fish, and cheese.
If you suffer from cold sores than you’re in luck as Lysine is known to inhibit the herpes virus, shortening the duration of the infection.
In a study of 30 people with cold sores, at the University of Southern California of Health Sciences, they found that applying a Lysine ointment got rid of the cold sore in 87% of the subjects in six days. Without any type of treatment cold sores will usually last 10-14 days, so the use of a Lysine ointment cut the healing period approximately by half. Both the doctors and the subjects of the study agreed that using Lysine to treat cold sores was extremely effective.
When you first notice a cold sore outbreak is coming, apply a Lysine ointment on the infected spot a few times a day. Increasing your portions of foods high in Lysine or taking 500 mg, three times a day, of a Lysine supplement can help prevent the virus from spreading. (Tip: make sure you look for the chirally correct form of Lysine in supplements and topical forms, which is l-Lysine.)
I bet you never thought you’d see honey on a list of remedies for cold sores. Honey is a sweet liquid created by bees from the nectar of flowers. Nowadays we mainly use honey as food, to sweeten our tea or to make our sandwich taste better, but for hundreds of years honey has actually been used to treat many medical ailments including cold sores.
Physicians in Ancient Egypt used honey on burns and open wounds to shorten the time of healing, while physicians in Ancient Rome used honey as a way to remedy insomnia. Hippocrates, a Greek physician, used honey to treat fever blisters and cold sores.
Bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms have a hard time surviving in honey due to its natural anti-viral and anti-bacterial tendencies. In addition, honey also contains high levels of flavonoids and phenolic acid, which are known to inhibit the herpes simplex virus.
A study in a Dubai medical center found that honey was a more effective treatment for cold sores than leading cold sore medication acyclovir. No adverse effects were observed by applying honey to cold sores. The study concluded that honey is both safe and effective as a treatment for cold sores.
There are some contraindications associated with honey. If you are allergic to pollen, you should exercise caution when using honey. Raw, local honey is used to manage allergies safely in many people, but if your allergies are severe or the honey is not local you might want to consider another remedy. Use of honey to treat an infant’s cold sore is also not advisable, because of the slight chance of it causing infection with bacteria that causes botulism.
Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is an essential oil originating from the crushed leaves of the plant Melaleuca alternifolia. Tea tree oil was first used by indigenous people of eastern Australia to remedy colds, sore throats, and skin infections.
There has been some limited research that concluded that tea tree oil has anti-viral properties and applying it on a cold sore will help combat the herpes simplex virus resulting in quicker healing time.
When you first feel like you are about to get a cold sore, use a cotton swab to apply some tea tree oil on the infected area. Do this 2 to 3 times a day until the cold sore disappears and is replaced by smooth skin. If you treat the cold sore when it first materializes you have a good chance of preventing it from spreading. You can purchase tea tree oil in most grocery stores, health stores, and drug stores.
Make sure to never orally consume tea tree oil because, according to the American Cancer Society, it is toxic when swallowed and could cause unwanted side effects.
With these natural cold sore remedies you should be well equipped to effectively handle any cold sore outbreaks that occur in your daily life.
Thanks for the great article Carrie! I’d like to add that while it is not possible to completely get rid of the virus that causes cold sores, it is possible to keep it in a dormant state by doing everything you can holistically to build up and maintain your immune system.
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Safety and effectiveness of an L-lysine, zinc, and herbal-based product on the treatment of facial and circumoral herpes. Altern Med Rev. 2005 Jun;10(2):123-7.
Topical honey application vs. acyclovir for the treatment of recurrent herpes simplex lesions. Med Sci Monit, 2004; 10(8): MT94-98
*Image 1 by Metju12 (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.