Update 10/15/22. You have a cold sore. Do any natural treatments work? Odds are you may have heard about the amino acid lysine. Does it work? It seems to. Let's look at the research on lysine helping herpes cold sore infections. Let's also discuss the other amino acid you should avoid during flair-ups. What amino acid is that? You may be surprised.
Lysine Cold Sore Research
Several studies have noted lysine supplements appear to decrease flare-ups of cold sores caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). This is the virus that causes most cold sores. This effect is seen when lysine is taken orally or applied topically to the cold sore.
Cold sores usually get worse during times of reduced immune function, which can be caused by stress. So, to avoid flair-ups you want to keep your immune system strong. Ways to do this include
What about exercise? can it help? Generally yes. exercise can help keep your immune system strong. But, ironically, too much exercise is also known to reduce immunity. Thus, one might expect cold sore flare-ups to occur following stressful and grueling athletic events like running a marathon or even a bodybuilding competition.
Lysine seems to reduce cold sores by blocking or reducing the ability of the cold sore virus to use the amino acid arginine, also known as L arginine. Just as L lysine seems to reduce cold sores, it also appears that arginine might contribute to cold sores.
Thus, to get the best results from lysine supplements, it should be combined with a diet low in arginine.
What About Canker Sores?
Canker sores are different than HSV cold sores. Canker sores form on the inside of the mouth, either at the gums or on your tongue. While too much emotional stress can cause canker sores, so too can deficiencies in vitamins B12 folic acid, and zinc. Regardless of the cause, canker sores usually go away on their own. At least one study has noted lysine may help speed the healing of canker sores.
Can Lysine Reverse Osteoporosis?
Here's a quick video I posted to my Youtube channel showing the research linking increased lysine intake to stronger bones.
Cold Sores: Avoid Arginine
Many exercise supplements – including pre-workout drinks and nitric oxide supplements contain arginine. You want to avoid these during cold sore flare-ups. The Supplement Facts label and the ingredients list will tell you if your supplements contain arginine.
Foods that contain arginine include milk, tuna, salmon, oatmeal, almonds, and other nuts.
Unfortunately, these foods are usually on the grocery list of many athletes.
Limiting the use of nitric oxide supplements while using lysine would likely also help.
How Much Lysine Amino Acid Helps Cold Sores?
Generally, 1000-2000 mg per day has been used in clinical studies. When starting new supplements, its usually suggested to begin with less at first to see if you have any side effects.
Does Lysine Have Other Health Benefits?
while best known for its effects on helping cold sores, clinical research has noted lysine might improve strength in malnourished people. Still, other research has noted this amino acid may help schizophrenia. Here's a quick video on several other health effects most are not aware of
Watch on my YouTube channel if you prefer
Can Lysine Make you Stronger?
Watch this video to see the proof
Watch on my Youtube channel if you prefer
Lysine Side Effects
Generally, lysine supplements are pretty safe. Diarrhea has been reported. This and other GI side effect complaints are common for many supplements. When in doubt, talk to your doctor if you are pregnant/breastfeeding and/or taking any medications. Some supplements may contain additional ingredients, such as arginine or other substances. When in doubt, check the Supplement Facts label will tell you all the ingredients a supplement contains.
Joe thanks for your information on the effects of Lysine and Arginine on the HSV. You have provided some useful facts.
There are more facts that might help explain this better. There have been studies, I can’t find the references currently, that have proven that the HSV both type 1 (cold sores) and type 2 (genital herpes) require the amino acid Arinine to replicate.
Since the body needs and produces Arginine it isn’t feasible to completely eliminate it. Eating a diet that is low in Arginine can and does reduce the frequency and severity of cold sores/outbreaks. By supplementing Lysine one is simply reducing the amount of excess Arginine the body produces and absorbs.
Another little known fact is that capsules of Lysine are actually Lysine powder contained in an Arginine shell. The capsules are made of gelatin, which is primarily Arginine. For anyone looking to supplement Lysine for the reason of reducing Arginine due to HSV, tablets are the best bet; however, some tablets still contain gelatin. Many manufacturers list gelatin as an “other ingredient”. The FDA does not require the disclosure of gelatin as an ingredient.
Again thanks for your informative write up! I am in no way trying to take away from it or your research efforts.
James, thanks I apprecaite you adding that information. No post I write is never the final word on a supplement and I’m glad you took the time to add to the information!