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Does Lysine Heal Cold Sores? Let's Examine the Evidence

lysine cold sores

When a cold sore outbreak strikes, you’d do anything to escape the pain, discomfort, and embarrassment it causes. As you search for remedies to reduce cold sore swelling, you may notice the recommendation to use lysine for cold sores.

Lysine isn’t as well known as other natural treatments such as apple cider vinegar or coconut oil, but could it still be worth a try?

A growing body of research demonstrates that Lysine can help to prevent and heal cold sores. Here’s what you should know about this cold sore remedy.

What Is Lysine?

Lysine is a type of protein-building block called an essential amino acid. Your body cannot make its own lysine, so this amino acid must be obtained from food and supplements instead.

Lysine combines with other proteins to form macronutrients that help body tissue grow and recover from damage. Research suggests that other important functions of lysine include:

  • -Promoting collagen growth
  • -Supporting a strong immune system
  • -Helping the body absorb zinc, iron, and calcium
  • -Producing hormones, antibodies, and enzymes

L-lysine is the specific form of lysine your body can readily utilize. Without it, you may experience side effects like fatigue, brain fog, anemia, and hair loss.

How Lysine Works Against Cold Sores

Lysine supports human health in many ways, but it’s best known for its potential role in protecting against cold sores.

Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1). Some people infected with HSV-1 never experience an outbreak, but most have experienced the pain and embarrassment of cold sore blisters. These fluid-filled sores develop on or around the mouth and burst to release their fluids. The healing process begins as the cold sores dry into yellow crusts and eventually disappear.

Though no permanent cure for cold sores exists, it’s possible to prevent future outbreaks or expedite the recovery of existing cold sores using lysine. HSV-1 relies on arginine-rich proteins to spread and reproduce. Arginine is a different amino acid found in certain meats, nuts, and wheat. It triggers cold sore and aggravates existing outbreaks.

Research suggests that lysine works against cold sores by interfering with the absorption of arginine. With the help of enough lysine, arginine becomes unavailable to the virus and shortens the duration of the outbreak.

In one small study, treatment with lysine ointment achieved “full resolution” in 40% of participants by the third day and in 87% of participants by the sixth day. This marks a vast improvement compared to a standard cold sore episode that may last up to 21 days without treatment.

Existing evidence is strong, but lysine’s role in cold sore recovery hasn’t been embraced by the mainstream scientific community. More supporting evidence is needed to list lysine as an official cold sore treatment.

lysine cold sores

Where Can You Get Lysine?

Your body doesn’t naturally produce lysine, so it must come from your diet or a supplement. Fortunately, lysine is easy to find.

Many Foods Contain the Lysine Amino Acid

Many common foods contain lysine, including:

  • -Meats like pork, turkey, chicken, and beef
  • -Eggs
  • -Yogurt and cheese
  • -Soybeans
  • -Fish, such as cod or sardines

Most people receive enough lysine from their standard diet, but those with ongoing cold sore outbreaks may benefit from additional supplementation.

Lysine Products

Lysine supplements are widely available in tablet, capsule, and powder form. When searching for a supplement, be sure to select a credible NSF-certified brand with a strong Consumer Lab rating.

The National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) was founded in 1944 to standardize sanitation and food safety requirements. Today, NSF International guides public health standards to protect consumers and natural resources. By selecting a product that’s NSF-certified, you know the brand passes regular on-site inspections of manufacturing facilities and ongoing product tests.

Look at the ingredients label to make sure you select a supplement formulated with 100 percent pure pharmaceutical grade lysine. Up to 3 grams per day is considered safe for supplementation purposes.

How to Use Lysine On Your Cold Sores

Aside from taking a lysine capsule or tablet, you can also use lysine powder to make your own cold sore paste. Follow these simple steps for improved cold sore relief:

  1. Blend 1 tablespoon of lysine powder with 2 tablespoons of water
  2. Mix until a thick paste forms
  3. Apply the lysine paste at bedtime with a Q-Tip or cotton swab
  4. Keep any leftover paste refrigerated

lysine cold sores

Precautions and Possible Risks 

Lysine is considered a generally safe supplement when used in small doses. Most people can take up to 3 grams of lysine each day without any side effects. However, higher lysine doses may cause diarrhea, nausea, stomach cramps, and other complications.

It’s also important to remember that lysine interferes with arginine production and absorption. Though arginine is harmful to cold sores, it plays other essential roles in the body for growth, wound healing, and nitric oxide production. Long-term lysine supplementation may lead to arginine deficiency, which puts the body at risk of other health complications. Experts recommend that long-term lysine use should be used with caution in people with cardiovascular disease, gallbladder disease, asthma, or immune dysfunction.

Since more research is still needed to better understand the role of lysine cold sore supplementation, it isn’t recommended for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Lysine should also be avoided by people taking a type of antibiotic called aminoglycosides. The combination of lysine and aminoglycosides could result in kidney damage.

If you need a safe and reliable cold sore treatment alternative, consider the Luminance RED. The Luminance RED is a breakthrough cold sore treatment that harnesses high-powered light technology to shorten healing time and decrease the frequency of outbreaks.

Thanks to the precise design of the Luminance RED device, every treatment provides the exact medically optimized wavelength of light necessary to maximize treatment efficiency.

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