Manage Cold Sores with These Foods and Vitamins

The herpes simplex virus causes cold sores, they heal in a few weeks but the virus remains. (1) Typically over time people experience fewer outbreaks. The NIH recommends trying to avoid getting a sunburn or stress because it can stimulate an outbreak. (2) Although there is no permanent solution there are a few strategies to reduce the duration and the likeliness that you will have an outbreak.

The Role of Amino Acids

Amino acids and cold sores have an interesting relationship in the body. The amino acid arginine is necessary for viral replication and the amino acid lysine inhibits viral replication. (3) (4) Thus eating a low arginine diet and increasing the amount of lysine may be the dietary support your body needs.


Lysine can be found in many foods including tofu, soybeans, lentils, quinoa, amaranth, pistachios and yogurt. Aim to include these foods into your regular daily diet.


Foods that are high in arginine are nuts, meat, poultry, fish, dairy and eggs. As you are probably thinking these foods are also very nutritious and provide many other nutrients, so make the goal of including other food sources in your diet and strike a balance.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant and in a clinical pilot study that reported for oral vitamin c if taken immediately upon feeling the tingling sensation may prevent an outbreak and taking vitamin during the initial outbreak it may reduce the severity. (5) Setting a goal of including more fruits and vegetables into your diet will increase the amount of vitamin C you are eating and also offer a host of other health benefits.

If you’re curious about which vitamins may be most beneficial for your specific health needs, take the Persona Assessment for a personalized vitamin regimen that’s optimal for your unique wellness goals and needs.


  1. Oral Herpes – National Library of Medicine – PubMed Health. (n.d.). Retrieved July 20, 2017, from
  2. Herpes simplex. (n.d.). Retrieved July 20, 2017, from
  3. Tankersley RW Jr. Amino acid requirements of herpes simplex virus in human cells. J Bacteriol 1964;87:609-13
  4. Flodin NW. The metabolic roles, pharmacology, and toxicology of lysine. J Am Coll Nutr 1997;16:7-21 [review].
  5. LOPEZ1, B. S., YAMAMOTO2, M., UTSUMI2, K., & And, C. A. (n.d.). A Clinical Pilot Study of Lignin—Ascorbic Acid Combination Treatment of Herpes Simplex Virus. Retrieved July 20, 2017, from
This information is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional or any information contained on or in any product label or packaging. Do not use the information from this article for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing medication or other treatment. Always speak with your physician or other healthcare professional before taking any medication or nutritional, herbal or homeopathic supplement, or using any treatment for a health problem. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem, contact your health care provider promptly. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking professional advice because of something you have read in this article.

Interested in learning what supplements are right for you? Take our free assessment.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the
best experience on our website. Learn more.