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Cold Sores

By
Lynne Brown
BSc Hons, HDE, Dip Clin Nutr

A cold sore or fever blister announces its arrival with a burning and tingling sensation on the lip. Then come the unsightly and downright painful blisters that ooze, itch and burn till they crust over and eventually disappear after a week to ten days.

The cause

Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus and unfortunately they are rarely a once-off occurrence. Once you’ve been exposed to the virus and 80% of us have, then you have it for life. Fortunately it keeps a pretty low profile until certain factors, such as stress, fever, trauma and exposure to too much sun, may make it rear its ugly head.  These Herpes type 1 blisters can strike inside the mouth as well as the nostrils, the fingers and the eyelids.

Arginine

The virus needs a certain amount of an amino acid called arginine to grow. Arginine is very high in peanuts and chocolate and is also found in seeds, nuts, beer, gelatin and raisins. So should you be under stress and eat a few chocolate bars containing peanuts you could bring on an attack. If you’re susceptible to cold sores then limit these foods and eliminate them during an attack. Many people find they get cold sores after they’ve got sunburnt or had a party where they’ve consumed a number of beers. These are activities which not only lower immunity but also create tremendous stress on the body, leaving the way open for the virus to strike.

Lysine

Fortunately there are also certain foods which may prevent outbreaks.  Lysine, another amino acid, actually suppresses the growth of the herpes simplex virus. You can boost your lysine intake by eating potatoes, brewer’s yeast, fish, chicken, eggs and beans. However, since the amount you need to prevent herpes outbreaks may be higher than what you can get from foods, it will be necessary to take 1000-2000 mg lysine a day as a supplement as soon as you begin to feel that familiar tingling.

Vitamin C

You may be able to zap a cold sore before it appears by taking a high dose of vitamin C with bioflavonoids at the first sign of a tingle. Bioflavonoids are chemical compounds related to vitamin C and the two together inhibit the progression of the virus. Take 1000 mg at the onset and then 500 mg three times a day for the next three days. Continue to take as a daily supplement to prevent or reduce the number of future attacks. Also eat more vitamin C rich foods. In addition to vitamin C with bioflavonoids, 20 g a day of a zinc supplement such as zinc sulphate also works very well at dampening the herpes virus when it starts up.

Topical applications

And once a cold sore has made its not-so-grand appearance you can dry it up and heal it more quickly by applying a dollop of an ointment containing zinc oxide directly to the sore. Speak to your pharmacist about this. Tea tree oil applied to the sore every 2 hours will also help.  The topical application of vitamin E can also take the bite out of a painful cold sore. Simply break open a vitamin E capsule and apply the oil directly to the blister.

Prevention

Sadly, once you’ve got this virus in your system you can never get rid of it, and it waits until you’re stressed or falling ill to strike. You can, however, prevent successful strikes by boosting your immune system with supplements and a nutritious diet, avoiding stress, avoiding long hours in strong sunlight and limiting arginine-rich foods.

Disclaimer: All information here is for educational purposes only and is not meant to cure, heal, diagnose nor treat. This information must not be used as a replacement for medical advice, nor can the writer take any responsibility for anyone using the information instead of consulting a healthcare professional.  All serious disease needs a physician.

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