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For those of us cursed with cold sores (about 90%, if you’ll believe that), the warning stages are all-too familiar. It starts with an innocent little bump, which soon begins to tingle. But we brush it off, saying “It’s nothing! It will go away….”

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But we know better. We know exactly what’s coming.

Why Does It Happen?

Firstly, cold sores derive from herpes simplex type 1, or HSV-1. In rare cases it is caused by HSV-2, the culprit behind genital herpes. If you have cold sores multiple times throughout the year, a weakened immune system or changes in weather are likely the reason.

Other factors include:

  • cold weather
  • fatigue
  • fever, such as from stomach flu or other infections
  • menstruation
  • mental or physical stress
  • physical irritation of the lips (e.g., following a visit to the dentist)
  • sunlight or sunburn
  • deep sadness or upset

Of course, if you are in direct contact with the virus, whether it be from sharing toothbrushes, cups, cutlery, face cloths, towels, lipstick, or other personal items, then you will also be susceptible to an outbreak.


Lysine is an essential amino acid that aids growth and development, collagen creation, calcium absorption, and cholesterol regulation.

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Lysine also prevents another amino acid, Arginine, from synthesizing certain proteins. This antagonistic relationship means that lysine may help reduce both the frequency and duration of herpes outbreaks, since arginine is needed for these viruses to reproduce.

Interestingly enough, they usually appear in food together. So if you are susceptible to cold sores it’s important that your lysine to arginine ratio is correct, with more lysine than arginine. Lysine supplementation will not make up for overconsumption of arginine.

Aside from cold sores, other indicators of lysine deficiency include anemia, bloodshot eyes, and chronic fatigue.

You can purchase L-Lysine at most health food stores. People who frequently break out with cold sores usually start off with 1000mg a day and, if they are feeling particularly stressed, bump it to 3000mg.

Here is a quick list of foods that are high in lysine:

  • Soy Foods
  • Seeds & Nuts: Pistachio Nuts (16%), Chia and Sunflower Seeds (13%), Watermelon Seeds (12%), Cashew Nuts and Flaxseeds (11%), Sesame Seeds (9%), and Almonds (8%)
  • Beans: Lentils (59%), Split Peas (56%), Cranberry (Romano) Beans (54%), Yellow Beans (53%), Pinto and Kidney Beans (51%), Black Beans (50%), and Chickpeas (46%)
  • Sprouts
  • Beets
  • Avocados
  • Mangoes
  • Tomatoes
  • Apples
  • Apricots
  • Pears
  • Figs
  • Papaya

Other Natural Remedies

Remedies provided by Everyday Roots

1 to 2 fresh ice cubes, or an ice pack
Coconut oil

Hold ice cube or ice pack on your sore for as long as possible. When you’re done, pat remaining water gently from the sore and apply coconut oil.

Cotton swab or cotton pad
Pure vanilla extract

Completely soak cotton pad or swab in vanilla extract. Hold the swab or pad in place directly over the sore for a minute or so. Do this four times daily until symptoms subside.

1 bag of Echinacea tea
1 cup freshly boiled water

Place your bag in a mug and pour boiling water over it. Cover and steep for 10 minutes, squeezing the tea from the bag to ensure you get maximum benefits.

1 teaspoon of witch hazel
Cotton swab or cotton pad

Soak a cotton pad or the end of a cotton swab in witch hazel. Dab directly onto your sore and leave on. Do this 1-2 times daily, as needed.

1 aloe plant OR ½ teaspoon of aloe vera gel

Break off the end of one fleshy leaf. Directly apply the gel to your sore. If you absolutely cannot come by a plant, dab a cotton swab in roughly ½ teaspoon aloe vera gel and apply directly. Leave on.

After It Heals

After the outbreak has diminished, be sure to toss out your toothbrush and anything else that has come into contact with your lips during this time, like lip balm or lipstick. Sanitize makeup tools well if you plan to use them again. During an outbreak, you should also wash your hands often.



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