Updated: Jun 5
If you've ever had a cold sore before, you know that familiar "tingle" sensation and burning or itching that appears before the cold sore even shows up. Cold Sores are a product of the herpes virus, usually herpes simplex virus type 1, and often goes by HSV for short. Once you have this virus, it is never actually eliminated from your body, it lives in your nervous system waiting patiently for your immune system to be weakened by stress or illness and then the virus can re-emerge and cause the tell-tale blisters which scab over as they heal. It is very contagious and easily spreads by contact. If you could have a cold sore it's important to not kiss, share food or utensils with others. Most susceptible to HSV infections are newborn babies, so please don't kiss a newborn without absolute certainty that a cold sore is not in the works.
Many rely on medications such as valacyclovir (Valtrex) and famciclovir (Famvir) orally to help eliminate the cold sore, but these antiviral medications have to be taken within 48 hrs of feeling the tingles (prodromal, or initial symptoms) and no later than actual appearance of the blisters, otherwise they aren't helpful (1). They also only reduce cold sore duration by about 1 day (2). Hardly a win for the most common adverse reactions of nausea, headache, vomiting, abdominal pain and fatigue that can come along with the medications (3). #nothanks
So what do you do about it?
Many over-the-counter treatments are just as effective as the medications and do not carry the side effects. I keep these items at home and on hand because starting them ASAP gives the best opportunity to prevent the cold sore from erupting entirely.
1. Lysine is am amino acid which helps inhibit HSV replication. Dosages of 3-5 gm per day orally are most helpful and can be used topically as well (4). I really like Super Lysine Plus ointment, when I use this the cold sore doesn't even have a chance to erupt! Always use a clean Q-tip to apply to prevent cross contamination with the bottle.
2. Herbs: Lemon Balm (5), Licorice root (6), St. John's Wort and Echinacea are all excellent choices for helping fight the virus and support immune system strength. Lemon balm grows all over my neighborhood and makes a delicious tea. While I sip the tea I'll usually soak the affected spot on the lip or dab a little on with a clean cotton ball or Q-tip throughout the day. #nature, #herbalmedicine
3. Nutrients: B12 injections can support the nerves where the virus lives and is replicating, helping to prevent and eliminate any residual sensitivity and pain. Vitamin C orally at 3000-5000 mg per day can also support the immune system as well as increasing vitamin D for a short period of time. Zinc in dosages of 30-60 mg per day for adults (in divided doses, with meals) can also help support the immune system and inhibit HSV viral replication and improve skin healing after the infection (4).
H2PLX contains many of these herbs and nutrients plus vitamin A and selenium which support immune function as well.
Prousky, J. (2012) Textbook of Integrative Clinical Nutrition. CCNM Press Inc. p.246-249
Hudson, T. (2008). Women’s Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine: Alternative Therapies and Integrative Medicine for Total Health and Wellness. McGraw-Hill Publishing. New York, NY p. 99-108
Disclaimer: The entire contents of this website are based upon the opinions of physicians at Pacific Clinic of Natural Medicine, unless otherwise noted. Individual articles are based upon the opinions of the respective author, who retains copyright as marked. The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of knowledge and information from the research and experience of our physicians and their community. PCNM encourages you to make your own health care decisions based upon your research and in partnership with a qualified health care professional. If you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition, consult your health care professional before using products based on this content.
If you want to use an article on your site please direct to and cite the original article page. This content may be copied in full, with copyright, contact, creation and information intact, without specific permission, when used only in a not-for-profit format. If any other use is desired, permission in writing from PCNM and the original author is required.