Cold sores are uncomfortable, unsightly and usually a sign that you’re under too much stress. And when you’re stressed, the last thing you want to deal with is a cold sore. If you’re looking for something that will stop these annoying flare-ups for good, an amino acid called lysine may help. Lysine for cold sores may stop outbreaks for good.
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Where Do Cold Sores Come From?
Cold sores are a symptom of the herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1). This is slightly different from the herpes virus that’s responsible for genital herpes. An HSV-1 infection is easily transmitted and highly contagious. That’s why it’s managed to infect almost 90% of all the people in the world.
Most people get infected when they are still children. Even something as simple as a peck on the cheek from an affectionate relative is enough to pass it on. Children also have weaker immune systems, so they’re more susceptible to picking it up.
Even when you don’t have a cold sore or a fever blister, the virus is there. It hides in the nerve clusters and appears when it’s triggered by stress, hormonal changes or even exposure to sunlight. Nobody really knows what causes it to flare-up, and your doctor will tell you there’s no way to get rid of the virus. But many people have found lysine to be very effective in the treatment of cold sores.
What Is Lysine?
Lysine is an essential amino acid. Your body needs it to function, but can’t make it itself. So you need to get it through your diet, either in the food you eat or by taking a supplement. It’s one of many amino acids that are responsible for the formation of protein in the body. It’s important for proper growth and aids in the absorption of calcium and the formation of collagen.
While most of us get enough lysine from our diet, athletes, burn patients and vegans may need to take a lysine supplement.
Lysine for Cold Sores: How Does it Help?
Although lysine has no effect on the HSV-1 virus itself, it still has the potential to stop the virus from replicating in your body. That’s because the virus needs arginine to grow. Arginine is another amino acid that competes with lysine for absorption in the fatty tissues of the body. Fortunately, lysine is far stronger than arginine. That means it has the potential to retard the growth of HSV-1.
Studies have shown that lysine not only helps cold sores to heal faster, it also reduces the frequency and severity of outbreaks. Increasing your intake of lysine may be the closest thing you can get to a cure for cold sores.
Lysine in Your Diet
Because your body can’t make its own lysine, you need to get it from the foods you eat. Foods that are naturally high in lysine include the following:
- Lean beef and lamb – These are the best sources but you can also get lysine from beef ribs, rib-eye steak and sirloin.
- Cheese – Parmesan, Gruyere, Romano, Swiss cheese and hard goat’s cheese are all good sources.
- Turkey and chicken – Any part of the bird you prefer to eat will contain lysine.
- Pork – Pork chops, pork tenderloin, ham and bacon are all high in lysine.
- Soya – Products like tofu, soy flour and soy chips contain moderate amounts of lysine.
- Fish – Tuna, salmon, mackerel and snapper have the most lysine when compared to other fish.
- Seafood – Along with fish, other kinds of seafood such as cuttlefish, lobster, octopus and crab are all excellent sources of lysine.
- Seeds and nuts – Pumpkins seeds contain the most lysine, followed by pistachio nuts, sunflower seeds and cashew nuts.
- Eggs – No matter how you prepare them, eggs contain a moderate amount of lysine.
- Pulses – Beans, lentils and split peas are excellent sources of lysine and a good alternative for vegetarians.
If you eat most of these foods, then chances are good that you are getting enough lysine in your diet. But if you’re prone to cold sores, you may need to increase your levels of lysine to counter the HSV-1 virus.
What About Lysine Supplements?
Getting the right amount of lysine to keep cold sores at bay through your diet may be difficult. And if you need extra lysine, it would probably be easier to take a supplement. But how much should you take?
Lysine is available in different forms such as capsules, tablets, powder and liquid. When you get the tingling sensation that indicates a cold sore is about erupt, take at least 1000mg three times a day with meals until it clears. To prevent future outbreaks you take a 1000mg maintenance dose every day.
Lysine, used properly is a safe and natural way to deal with cold sores. It also makes sense to take extra lysine daily to prevent flare-ups and keep the virus under control. You should also get enough sleep and avoid stress as these are common triggers for cold sore sufferers. You don’t have to put up with cold sores for the rest of your life. As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.