The Best Way to Stop a Cold Sore


Until last week, when I got my first cold sore, I’d managed to dodge the cold sore bullet, and it’s a wonder that I made it this far, when they’re so highly contagious and 9 out of 10 adults get them.  Now who have I been kissing?

When the sore appeared on my lip and I realized what it was, I scoured the internet for natural remedies. I was not going to let Herpes Simplex-1 ruin my week! By the way, a nearly identical virus, Herpes Simplex-2, causes the genital sores (suffered by 1 in 4 adults – really!) so the following information is relevant for both.

-Diet makes a difference. The amino acid L-arginine promotes replication of the herpes virus. You’ll need to avoid arginine-rich foods that make those suckers grow. They include: nuts, seeds, nut butters, cacao (chocolate), chickpeas, brown rice, raisins and oatmeal, coffee and alcohol. You don’t have to cut these foods out completely (goodness knows I don’t!), but avoid them when you feel that telltale tingle of an outbreak coming on.
-Lysine, Lysine, Lysine! Thankfully, there’s another amino acid, L-lysine that weakens the L-arginine, so taking a large dose at the onset of an outbreak can nip it in the bud, with smaller maintenance doses until after symptoms disappear. This worked for me; my painful, cracked cold sore shrunk very quickly and was gone in a few days. You can find lysine supplements at any natural grocery or vitamin store.
-Boost your diet with high-lysine, protein-rich foods, such as: fish, meat, eggs, dried beans, milk and sprouts.
-Dietary Balance + Emotional Balance. Cold sore and herpes outbreaks are linked to stress.

As a human race we’ve got a lot going on in our bodies. Think of how many fungi, viruses and bacteria that end up living within us! By educating ourselves and adapting, we can maintain the balance of health.

What’s worked for you when you get a cold sore?

Image: circo de Invierno

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7 thoughts on “The Best Way to Stop a Cold Sore

  1. Thank you for taking the time and sharing this information with us. It was indeed very helpful and insightful while being straight forward and to the point.

  2. I almost always get a cold sore in December in the exact same spot – since I was about 9 (the only thing I was kissing was a jawbreaker candy!). I’ve noticed stress definitely exacerbates it. Will try Lysine next year, Sarah. :)

  3. I don’t know Mike, that Lysine stuff is so effective and so fast, you might be able to ditch the Zovirax. Of course, no one can make that decision but you… but Lysine is definitely worth a try, and I’m sure less expensive than a prescription!

  4. I’ve heard a few homebrew cures that apparently work, but that I’ve never tried: by far the least pleasant is a heated teaspoon laid directly against the sore. Theory goes that it dries the sore out in record time – absolute agony is apparently less important.
    I get these things, one nasty one about once a year. Next time, as well as using Zovirax ( – contains acyclovir), I’ll try changing my diet as you’ve suggested, Sarah. Thanks!

  5. Sores inside the mouth, canker sores, are not viral and so are not in the cold sore family. They won’t respond to Lysine. But you can try rinsing your mouth with saltwater, putting Vitamin E oil on the sore, and rinsing with a liquid antacid (to reduce the acidic environment in the mouth).

  6. Sarah, I agree, Lysine is the miracle cure for the cold sores. But what do you find works best for sores inside your mouth and on the gum?


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