If you’ve ever hopped on Pinterest or a wellness blog for more than four seconds, you know that coconut oil has legendary status within natural health circles.
Dry skin? Indigestion? Gum disease? Seizures? According to many natural health advocates, coconut oil can improve all of those conditions and dozens of others.
Do the extraordinary healing powers of coconut oil also apply to cold sores? Anecdotal evidence suggests that coconut oil’s medicinal properties may indeed help heal a cold sore outbreak faster, but no clinical research yet exists on this subject.
Even so, if you’re suffering from a painful cold sore and need a simple home remedy, coconut oil may help alleviate bothersome symptoms.
What is Coconut Oil and What's In It?
Not all coconut is created equally. The type of coconut oil praised for its superfood status is usually unrefined. This type of oil is not processed, bleached, or deodorized. Instead, the coconut meat is pressed to extract the oil. Some coconut oils are even “cold-pressed”, which means no heat is involved during its extraction.
Coconut oil is rich in saturated fat. Despite only containing trace amounts of vitamins and minerals, unrefined coconut oil does exhibit properties that have the potential to provide health benefits:
- -Healthy fatty acids
- -Antimicrobial effects
- -Antiviral activity
- -Mild analgesic to reduce pain and discomfort
The properties of coconut oil are so highly valued in some countries that the coconut is often referred to as the “tree of life”.
Can Coconut Oil Help your Cold Sore?
The refined coconut oil on sale in the grocery store won’t do much to help your cold sore heal, but cold-pressed unrefined coconut oil might!
Research shows that unrefined coconut oil is an effective skin moisturizer. It improves hydration and replenishes the skin’s lipid levels. Though this won’t treat or eliminate your oral herpes, applying coconut oil for cold sore outbreaks may alleviate your discomfort and soothe irritated skin.
It’s possible that applying unrefined coconut oil directly to cold sore scabs may accelerate healing by reducing inflammation and keeping the skin nourished. There’s no clinical research proving this, but plenty of anecdotal evidence to offer hope.
How to Use Coconut Oil for Cold Sore Treatment
It’s easy to use coconut oil for cold sore treatment by either adding it to your food or applying it topically to your skin.
Foods rich in lysine, antioxidants, B-complex vitamins, and probiotics are known to help prevent oral herpes outbreaks and support rapid healing of cold sores. You can supercharge the restorative nature of these foods by adding coconut oil to your meal. Simply swap olive oil or butter for coconut oil to boost your body’s antiviral and antimicrobial action against oral herpes.
It’s also quick and simple to apply unrefined coconut oil topically. Simply swab coconut oil over your cold sores to alleviate itching, burning, inflammation, and discomfort. Coconut oil is a safe substance, so you can apply it as many times a day as needed for your lasting comfort.
It's even possible to blend coconut oil with essential oils to add extra healing power to your topical skin application. Essential oils like lavender and tea tree are well known for their anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, and wound-healing properties.
In fact, clinical research shows that wounds treated topically with lavender oil heal at an accelerated pace. When combined with the anti-inflammatory properties of coconut oil, this home remedy may be enough for your cold sore outbreak to finally subside.
Potential Risks and Side Effects
Overall, coconut oil is a safe and low-risk remedy for cold sore pain and discomfort. However, every substance used for medicinal and therapeutic purposes has the potential to cause side effects, and coconut oil is no exception.
Those with sensitive skin may experience skin irritation or acne after applying coconut oil repetitively. It’s best to apply to a small patch of skin and test results before using it on a consistent basis.
Examples of Coconut Oil as an Effective Medicine
Despite a lack of clinical research exploring the efficiency of coconut oil for cold sore treatment, an abundance of existing research proves the therapeutic properties of coconut oil for other purposes. Given coconut oil’s antimicrobial, anti-fungal, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory properties, it’s not a stretch to assume coconut oil may help treat cold sores as well.
Consider the medical benefits of coconut oil uncovered in recent research:
- -Coconut oil’s medium-chain triglycerides act as antiviral agents
- -Application of coconut oil improves atopic dermatitis
- -Coconut oil safely moisturizes dry skin
- -The lauric acid in coconut oil can slow or stop the development of infectious vesicular stomatitis virus
So the next time you’re coping with a painful cold sore outbreak, should you open that jar of coconut oil? It certainly can’t hurt; you may even be surprised by the results! Just don’t expect coconut oil to provide a miracle overnight cure.