In this article, I’m going to teach you about the relationship between arginine and cold sores. For almost two decades of my life, I suffered from cold sores on my lips.
I typically had cold sore breakouts four times a year or more.
This destroyed my self-esteem and made me isolate from people as much as humanly possible.
One of the things that helped me during this period was to avoid foods and supplements that were high in arginine.
How Arginine Triggers Cold Sores
Cold sores, also known as fever blisters, are groups of small blisters that form on or near the lips. Cold sores are a result of something called herpes simplex virus (HSV).
There are two types of HSV, and both can cause cold sores. HSV-1 typically is responsible for cold sores, and HSV-2 is most often the cause of genital herpes.
However, both types of HSV can cause cold sores or genital herpes.
After primary infection, the virus resides in the associated dorsal root ganglion where it lies dormant until an external stimuli (such as stress or immunosuppression) initiate reactivation of the virus from dormancy.
The virus lives on forever, and that’s why people continue to get cold sores over and over again. Fortunately, using lysine for cold sores has shown to be an effective form of natural treatment.
In 1981, Christopher Kagan, M.D., discovered that if he isolated HSV in a petri dish, and added the amino acid L-arginine, the virus would multiply.
However, when he added L-lysine, the virus’s ability to multiply became inhibited.
He realized the virus becomes inhibited because lysine blocks the bioavailability of arginine, which prevents the virus from replicating.
In simple terms, the virus that causes cold sores has a very difficult time replicating when there are high levels of lysine and low levels of arginine in the body.
Here is a list of foods that have high arginine/low lysine:
- Whole grains
Studies Using Lysine For Cold Sores
A double-blind, placebo-controlled study concluded that “Lysine appears to be an effective agent for reduction of occurrence, severity and healing time for recurrent HSV infection.”
In the study, the cold sore treatment group was given 1,000 mg L-lysine tablets three times a day for a six-month period.
In another study, researchers found that “oral ingestion of 1,248 mg a day of L-Lysine monohydrochloride shows evidence of decreasing the recurrence rate of herpes simplex attacks in nonimmunocompromised hosts.”
How To Use Lysine For Cold Sores
Now that you’ve learned why people use L-lysine for cold sores, let’s go over dosages.
The following cold sore treatment doses have been studied in scientific research:
- By Mouth – 1000 mg daily for 12 months, and 1000 mg three times daily for 6 months.
- Topically – Use a lip ointment with lysine at night before bed to prevent cold sores and 3-4 times a day during an outbreak.
L-lysine taken orally is absorbed best on an empty stomach, 45-60 minutes before meals. Make sure to review lysine contraindications and speak with your healthcare provider before using this supplement.
My favorite oral product is Solgar L-Lysine Vegetable Capsules. It’s more expensive than most, but in my opinion, this product is very high quality.
For the prevention and treatment of cold sores, take two capsules on an empty stomach, three times a day.
Furthermore, many individuals have successfully reduced their frequency of cold sore outbreaks by eating more lysine-rich foods and avoiding foods such as chocolate, nuts, seeds, and other foods that are extremely high in arginine.
Anecdotal Evidence Using Lysine For Cold Sores
Many years ago, I used lysine for cold sores (both topical and oral), and in my opinion, this treatment helped me prevent and shorten the healing time of cold sores.
If you read some of the threads on various forums, there are many individuals who say the use of lysine has enabled them to prevent getting as many cold sores. One man even said he didn’t have cold sores for over three years from using lysine on a daily basis.
Results will always vary, but in my opinion, the use of lysine for cold sores can potentially be an effective form of treatment for some individuals.
The key to cold sores is to prevent them from forming in the first place.
Thus, I encourage you to check out my Ultimate Guide to Preventing Cold Sores.
It’s free and has absolutely everything you need to know.