In my acupuncture practice, I often see patients who think they are just stuck suffering through cold sores. Luckily, you can use food to support your immune system and a few select supplements for cold sore home remedies.
If you’re one of the millions who struggle with cold sores, then you’ve come to recognize that characteristic tingling feeling when one is about to emerge.
As many as 85% of people carry the herpes simplex 1 virus (HSV). This form of the virus lives in the nerve cells next to the ears. The virus passes through contact with saliva. Kissing, sharing glasses, and similar activities can spread HSV from one person to the next.
The key to living with the herpes virus: PREVENTION, PREVENTION, PREVENTION.
So without further ado, let's make sure you have your bases covered.
How to ward off cold sores before they begin
The herpes virus can remain dormant for a long period of time. But stress, poor eating habits, illness, excess sun exposure, and other bodily stressors can all trigger an outbreak.
This may be easy to glaze over and think, “Yeah, yeah. I already know that.” But ask yourself, do you really pay attention when your body is run down? Do you slow down and rest when you need to? Or do you push through anyway?
If you're in a period of high stress, go to bed earlier, eat right, and take immune boosting supplements.
The importance of eating right is twofold. An unhealthy gut is the birthplace of a whole host of issues. When there is an imbalance of beneficial microbes in your gut, this suppresses the immune system and allows the HSV to quickly replicate. more easily, causing more cold sores. Addressing and controlling microflora balance and restoring gut health is an important piece of the puzzle.
If you have a history of antibiotic or birth control use, you can assume that your digestion will need extra support.
Food to prevent cold sores
Beyond poor diet, some otherwise “healthy” foods can increase your likelihood for a cold sore breakout.
In order to thrive, the herpes virus requires proteins that contain a higher ratio of the amino acid L-arginine while your health relies on proteins that are high in the amino acid L-lysine. Arginine is necessary for the cold sore virus to replicate. Since lysine and arginine compete in the body, greatly increasing the body’s available lysine can both prevent and treat cold sores.
High-arginine foods to avoid:
High-lysine foods to include:
- dried apples and pears
- red meat
Cold sore home remedies
Lysine supplements – Lysine is most effective when used daily to prevent cold sores, but can also help at the first signs of an outbreak.
Supplement with about 1,500 milligrams of it daily for 6 months if you deal with recurring cold sores. To shorten cold sore healing time, aim for higher dose of up to 3 grams daily.
Zinc for immune support – Zinc is a well known immune booster, specifically known as a potent cold sore home remedy.
Tea tree & lemon balm essential oils – Essential oils can have the ability to meet the viral infection at the source. Compared to other essential oils, tea tree oil weakens viral activity. And lemon balm can fight the eruption of a cold sore. Because lemon balm essential oil can be very irritating to skin, use at about a 1% dilution.
Alum powder – Sometimes you’re not able to prevent a cold sore in time and you end up with an ugly, seeping breakout. In this case, alum powder can be used to dry the sore out and speed healing.
You can find alum in any grocery store, as it’s typically used to keep cucumbers crisp when pickling.
To use: Dip a clean finger in the powder and apply directly to the sore.