No one likes to get a cold sore! They always seem to pop up at those times when there’s a special occasion coming up or there’s something happening in life that places a little extra demand on us. Find out what causes them and how to keep them in check!
The virus that causes Cold Sores lies dormant in the nerves waiting for an opportune moment to strike, usually when the immune system is compromised. Approximately 90% of the population carry the virus but not all get cold sores. Cold Sores are caused by the Herpes simplex virus (which is relatively harmless) but can become a returning and irritating infection.
The most common triggers for Cold Sores can be colds and flu, but also emotional stress, sunshine and in women outbreaks can be linked to the fluctuations of hormones with the monthly menstrual cycle.
The best treatment is prevention, but there are also some topical remedies that can help.
Mindfulness – Developing a mindfulness practice that you can turn to when you are experiencing stress will help prevent outbreaks in the long term. Yoga, Tai Chi and Qi Gong are practices that use mindful movement to activate the calming part of the nervous system. Meditation apps are also an easy and accessible way to start a meditation practice.
Antiviral herbs - Echinacea is an immune boosting herb that has anti-viral properties. There is considerable scientific research suggesting that certain compounds in Echinacea can help reduce viral infection and inhibit the virus from penetrating healthy cells.
Lysine - This amino acid may help prevent replication of the herpes virus. Foods that contain Lysine include legumes, fish, turkey, chicken and vegetables. You can take a supplement of L-lysine (1,000 milligrams) three times daily. Supplement together with 1000mg daily of Vitamin C for its anti-viral properties.
Tea-tree oil – A natural anti-viral for topical application is Tea tree oil. Apply to the affected area three times daily with a cotton tip (using on 1-3 drops). If you have sensitive skin, try diluting the oil by mixing it with a carrier oil such as almond oil. If irritation occurs, discontinue use.
Garlic - A traditional remedy for treating cold sores is to rub garlic on the affected area. The anti-viral properties of garlic may help to prevent the onset or speed up the healing time of a cold sore infection. Specific chemical compounds found in garlic have been shown to be highly effective at killing a broad spectrum of microorganisms, including the Herpes virus.
Yours in natural health,
Always consult your healthcare professional before commencing a new dietary or exercise regime, before using any supplements and before making any changes to prescribed medications.