Articles & Reports - Cold Sore Remedies

Cold Sore Remedies

Dr. Henry Cheng and Christine Cheng, R.Ph.

​   About 20 to 40% of the population have suffered from or will suffer from cold sores.  The causative agent is a virus called herpes simplex virus type 1, spread through direct contact with a cold sore lesion or touching fluid from a cold sore (e.g., via sharing of utensils).  Using a cold sore bandage such as LIPCLEAR COLD SORE BANDAGE can keep the cold sore moist, protect it from irritants and help stop its contagious spread. Early symptoms of cold sores include tingling, itching, burning, and redness, followed by ulceration and blistering, and later on crust and scab formation.  Typically it recurs especially when the person is under stress, dehydratedafter exposure to the sunor when a person has an upper respiratory infection such as a cold.  Lesions usually occur around the mouth.  Cold sores seldom pose as medical threats, but they are a nuisance and can create social embarrassment.

​   Anti-oxidants like Ester-C®, Bioflavenoids, Zinc, etc. are known to help prevent attacks and shorten the illness.  The amino acid L-LYSINE is an effective treatment for cold sores as it antagonizes the growth of the virus, thus limiting its spread. Lysine can be taken on its own (e.g., available from New Roots Herbal) or taken in a blend such as SUPER LYSINE + ®, which includes Echinacea, vitamin C, and garlicLysine-containing preparations are most effective when taken at the very first sign of a cold sore. Taking lysine during remission has been shown to cut down significantly the frequency of recurrence and it can be safely used for up to 6months for those who experience recurring outbreaks.

​   Keeping the affected area moist can greatly minimize the discomfort of cold sores and there are many topical ointments available.  Those that contain lysine are very helpful (e.g., SUPER LYSINE +® OINTMENT). Another popular choice is ABREVA®whose active ingredient (docosanol) modifies the cell membrane of healthy cells such that the fusion of the cell membrane with the virus envelope cannot take place, thereby blocking the entry of the virus into the cell.   Like most other cold sore ointments, it is most effective when applied at the very first symptoms. 

​   Taken internally, homeopathic medicine works very well for cold sores.  When lesions are itching and blisteringRhus Tox works great.  Natrum Muriaticum, Croton Tig., Mezereum are other popular homeopathic remedies used for cold sores.  Combination preparations containing mixtures of these remedies are available for those who are uncertain as to which remedy to choose.Homeopathic remedies can be used in all ages and in conjunction with other therapies. 

Henry Cheng is a medical graduate of the University of London, England, and is now Natural Health Products Consultant in Cloverdale Pharmasave Health Centre. He works alongside his daughter, Christine Cheng, a pharmacist with training in natural medicine.