Dealing with Cold Sores


How it started?

I have been suffering from cold sores lately.  This is an infection by the Herpes Simplex Type 1 (HSV-1) virus that causes blisters and painful ulcers on the lips or inside the mouth [1].

For me, it started as a small pimple at the left corner of my mouth. I didn’t pay much attention to it at first. The small pimple turned into a small crack. Feeling a bit of discomfort, but I was not alarmed by it. Thinking that it might just be too dry, I applied some Aloe Vera gel on it and expected to be ok within two to three days. The crack did not heal as expected. On the contrary, the crack was getting deeper and more painful, and the cheek area surrounding it started to swell. At this point, I realised that it is more than just a crack lip.

My past dealing with cold sores

This wasn’t the first time I suffered from cold sores. I had a serious outbreak in November 2012 at exactly the same spot of my mouth. It lasted for more than 3 weeks and developed a further complication of bacterial infection. I was treated with oral antibiotic and topical corticosteroid cream to keep the infection under control then. It was a dreadful experience that I wouldn’t want to repeat.

Cold Sores

Herpes Simplex is known to be able to reside in the nerves of the body after infection, and will cause recurrence of the symptoms [1]. I guess this time round it manage to resurface its ugly face due to sudden change in weather for me (from the warm and humid in Singapore to the cold and dry in Sydney) as well as stress.

My prescription

I did some research this time on how to speed up the recovery of cold sore using natural medicine.  I decided to self-prescript with the following:

  1. Lysine 500mg – 3 times / day
  2. Vitamin C powder – 2-3g in divided dosage added to drinking water
  3. Young Living Inner Defense – 1 tablet 3 times / day
  4. Topical application of Manuka honey 4-5 times a day

LysinLysinee is an essential amino acid involved in the synthesis of linking proteins. It competes with another amino acid, arginine, in the body as they both share common pathways. Therefore, it is an antagonist to arginine [3]. Arginine is involved in the infection and replication of the HSV virus. Therefore, supplementing Lysine helps to reduce the available arginine to prevent the spread of the virus. Scientific studies have shown that regular use of lysine supplements can help to reduce the intensity of cold sores [4][5].

Infection by HSV is also an indication of a weakened immune system. Therefore, I use Vitamin C at a therapeutic dosage of 2-3g to strengthen the body’s immunity.  Young Living Inner Defense is an oral supplement of essential oil blend consists of Clove, Lemon, Eucalyptus, Rosemary ad Cinnamon [6]. My experience is that it is highly effective in boosting the immune system to fight against bacteria, virus, fungus, and parasite infections.

For topical application, I choose to use honey. Honey has excellent anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. I read from a research report published in 2004 that topical application of honey on herpes lesions is more effective than anti-viral cream. Healing time can be 29% to 59% faster [7]. Therefore, I decided to use my Manuka honey on the shelf as my topical cream. The definite plus is that it tastes sweet!

I started my self-treatment protocol and tracked my progress. The result was highly encouraging. The cold sore dries up by day five. In the following few days, dry crust started to peel off from the corner of my mouth revealing pinkish new skin beneath. By this stage, I know I have managed to stop the virus and self-healing is in progress.

Dietary modifications

In additional to my treatment protocol above, I also impose on two dietary modifications to my usual plant-based diet, during this period of time:

  1. Stop eating nuts and seeds. This is because nuts and seeds contain high level of arginine that helps in replication of HSV
  2. Avoid acidic foods, including oranges and most citrus fruits and tomato. There are some suggestions that acidic foods can hasten the cold sore outbreak, although not substantiated by research [8].  Incidentally, I ate a large portion of my favourite tomato pastas in the afternoon before my cold sores started to flare up and inflamed in the evening. Therefore, as a precautionary measure, I choose to abstain from acidic foods.

Conclusion

This is a quick recovery experience for me compare to my last cold sore outbreak.  Furthermore, typical infection normally last between 2 to 6 weeks [1].  It is definitely a relief for me! The remedies work! While I know that HSV may still resurface in the future, I now know how to deal with it effectively.

REFERENCES

  1. Herpes (n.d.) In Health Promotion Board. Retrieved 30 July 2014 from http://www.hpb.gov.sg/HOPPortal/article%3Fid%3D544
  2. Tomblin, F.A. Jr and Lucas, K.H. (2001) Lysine for management of herpes labialis. Am J Health Syst Pharm. February 2001. Vol. 58, No. 4.
  3. Baker, D.H. (2007) “Lysine, Arginine, and Related Amino Acids: An Introduction to the 6th Amino Acid Assessment Workshop.” The Journal of Nutrition. June 2007 vol. 137 no. 6 1599S-1601S
  4. Lysine (n.d.) In NYU Langone Medical Center. Retrieved 30 July 2014 from http://www.med.nyu.edu/content?ChunkIID=21791
  5. Woo, S. and Challacombe, S.J. (2007) “Management of recurrent oral herpes simplex infections” Oral Surgery, Oral Medicine, Oral Pathology, Oral Radiology, and Endodontology, Volume 103, Supplement, March 2007, Pages S12.e1-S12.e18
  6. Inner Defense (n.d.) In Young Living Essential Oils. Retrieved 30 July 2014 from http://www.youngliving.com/natural-health-supplements/Inner-Defense
  7. Al-Wailli (2004) “Topical honey application vs. acyclovir for the treatment of recurrent herpes simplex lesions” Med Sci Monit, 2004; 10(8): MT94-98
  8. Foods that Cause Cold Sores (6 Oct 2011) In Gallo Institute of Health and Nutrition. Retrieved 30 July 2014 from http://www.galloinstitute.org/foods-that-cause-cold-sores/
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