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 to 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 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 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.
- Oral Herpes – National Library of Medicine – PubMed Health. (n.d.). Retrieved July 20, 2017, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMHT0024492/
- Herpes simplex. (n.d.). Retrieved July 20, 2017, from https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/contagious-skin-diseases/herpes-simplex#tips
- Tankersley RW Jr. Amino acid requirements of herpes simplex virus in human cells. J Bacteriol 1964;87:609-13
- Flodin NW. The metabolic roles, pharmacology, and toxicology of lysine. J Am Coll Nutr 1997;16:7-21 [review].
- 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 http://iv.iiarjournals.org/content/23/6/1011.long