Cold sores are caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus 1. Over half our population gets cold sores. Another 25% of our population has this virus but never gets the symptoms. They appear on average about a week after exposure and can last up to three weeks. This virus stays in the body even after the acute outbreak is over. Once the virus enters the body, it never leaves. This virus hides in nerve cells where the immune system’s protective cells cannot get to them. Recurrence, or new outbreaks, can be triggered by stress, other viral infections, exposure to excessive sun and/or wind, or anything else that will depress your immune system. These sores are easily spread, so care should be taken to reduce contact with other people until the contagious part (the outbreak) is finished. These mouth sores are quite common and are indicative of body chemistry imbalances. These are usually seen in people that have hypothyroid conditions and are usually set off by food allergies. If you have a history of cold sores, it’s a good idea to have your thyroid function checked.
Cold sores are found on the lips, gums, tongue and cheek. Outbreaks are more common in the winter than summer which may be due to the extra stress winter puts on the body. These infections are more prevalent in woman, usually set off by the hormone imbalance seen during the menstrual cycle. Local tenderness with a small “bump” is usually the first sign of a cold sore. This can turn into a blister with increased tenderness. These blisters tend to break and release pus. The adjacent lymph nodes can become swollen and tender, making life unpleasant.
Eat a mineral rich diet, add foods that will make your body more alkaline. Stay away from anything that will put stress on the nervous system such as caffeine and alcohol. Foods rich in the amino acid arginine, chocolate, peanut butter, nuts and onions seem to be associated with a higher incidence. Plenty of salads, raw and cooked vegetables, whole grains (eliminate wheat if possible) and potatoes (baked or steamed). Green vegetables are the best source of minerals.
The following supplements should be taken:
- Lysine – 500mg, 3x/day Vitamin C – 500mg 6x/day Vitamin B-Complex – Take a high stress formula at least 100mg 3x/day Acidophilus – follow label directions
- Garlic 2-3x/day
Herbs that will help relieve this condition are many and varied. Flora Stay DDS, in the Complete Book of Dental Remedies suggests a combination of Red Clover, Burdock and Goldenseal. The Prescription for Nutritional Healing by J. Balch MD and The Herb Book by John Lust use combinations of Astragalus, Yellow Dock, Red Sage, Myrrh, Echinacea and Marshmallow to help heal these painful outbreaks. Take equal amount of each and boil for five minutes, steep another ten. This can be directly applied on the effected area with cotton swabs. Dr. Linda Page in her book Healthy Healing suggests a combination of Echinacea, White Willow Bark, St. Johns Wort, White Pine Bark, Devils Claw Root, Red Clover, Gotu Kola, Alfalfa, Dandelion and Ginger to help deal the inflammation. Mix 3 drops of each with 2 glass of water. Take this four times per day.
My patients have reported “PerioHealth Rinse is very effective in alleviating the problems associated with canker sores. The “PerioHealth Rinse” contains Echinacea, Goldenseal and Grapefruit Seed Extract; all three of these extracts have been used for many years and are widely recognized for their antib-bacterial properties. Aloe and Calendula, known for their ability to heal, are also part of the formula. A report, from Pace University in New York, delivered to the 89th General Meeting of the American Society of Microbiology held in Atlanta, May 1998, stated that these herbs had a significant anti-viral effect. Place a small amount of the “PerioHealth Rinse” on a piece of cotton and hold this on the sore for a few minutes. Repeat this throughout the day.Woodsage combined with Chickweek makes a good rinse for cold sore relief. Using equal amounts of the powders, one teaspoon each, boil for five minutes in one cup of water, let steep for another ten. Another effective mouth rinse is made from a combination of White Oak (acts as an astringent), Camomile and Lemon Balm (helps heal tissue), and Red Sage (fights infection). Rinse with this mixture several times a day.
If you get cold sores you can use some herbs to strengthen your immune system either just before and when an outbreak begins. The Complete Encyclopedia of Natural Healing by Gary Null Ph.D. states that Echinacea, Goldenseal and Chaparral are good immune system supporters. Cayenne can relieve some of the discomfort and Aloe Vera seems to be effective in combating the herpes virus. Garlic can be quite helpful. Applying Black Walnut to the infected area may be of help. Gotu Kola is widely used to heal tissues and promote tissue growth. Try one cup of tea daily. K.P. Khalsa, the co-author of Herbal Defense suggests licorice root because of its anti-inflammatory properties and its ability to help tissues heal.
Cold sores are a symptom of a weakened immune system. Stress and exhaustion seem to play a major role in allowing the virus to express itself. Because of the thyroid factor, its important to make sure that your immune system is at its optimal function at all times. Any good superfood such as the one I developed, Vitalboost, taken daily will help strengthen your immune system.