If you are prone to cold sores and are disappointed with conventional and over-the-counter treatments, then complementary remedies may help with a combination of natural steps to suppress the Herpes Simplex 1 virus (which causes cold sores) and keep it dormant – unlike orthodox medicine, which treats the effect and not the cause.
The two main triggers of the cold sore virus are sunlight and stress. Therefore the first line of defense is to strengthen your immune system. At the first sign of feeling run down or stressed, take an Echinacea tincture. Also known as coneflower, it is the best selling immune booster on both sides of the Atlantic. Take 20 drops 3 times a day for no more than 10 days. Echinacea will lose some of its potency if it is taken for long periods, so it is important not to overuse it.
Obviously, a healthy, balanced diet is important, in particular plenty of foods that are rich in zinc, which is an important immune-boosting nutrient. It is found in seafood, oysters, turkey, liver, eggs, sunflower, and pumpkin seeds.
The cold sore virus feeds off an amino acid in the body called arginine. If you take a supplement of another amino acid called lysine, which to the body looks like arginine, you actually trick the virus and effectively starve it. To keep the virus at bay, you should take a daily supplement of 1000mg of lysine (not at mealtimes). Foods rich in arginine include chocolate, nuts, and most cereal grains and should be avoided. Lysine is found in brewer’s yeast, dairy products, and potatoes, so up your intake of these foods along with your lysine supplement. Vitamin C is another powerful immune booster, so a daily supplement may also be helpful.
Homeopathic remedies are best prescribed by a qualified homeopath, but if this is not possible at the time of an attack, you can try the following until you can get an appointment. If your cold sores are triggered by the sun and start with an itchy tingle, take Natrum Mur 30c. If an outbreak begins with a sharp prickling pain and the sore tends to crack and bleed, take Nitric acid 30c.
The most effective herbal remedy is Lemon Balm, also known as Melissa. Lemon Balm contains molecules that block the receptor sites on the skin’s cells and prevent the virus from getting into the cells where it multiplies. You can drink it as a tea or use it topically by brewing 2-4 teaspoons of the herb in boiling water and apply to the cold sore with cotton wool several times a day. You can also mix a few drops of Melissa essential oil with a carrier oil and apply it to the cold sore.
Another effective essential oil is Tea Tree, which can be applied directly onto the cold sore using one drop of oil on a cotton bud. Grapefruit seed extract, also known as Citricidal, has strong antiviral and antibacterial properties and is safe to apply to the sore. Glycyrrhizin acid (GA), which is naturally found in licorice, has a strong antiviral effect that can reduce cold sores.
Propolis, made by honey bees, can help speed up the healing process in cold sores. It has been recognized for more than 2,000 years for its antiseptic and antiviral properties.