Cold sores are painful and often embarrassing. These small blisters that occur around the lips and mouth are commonly confused with canker sores. However, unlike canker sores, they’re contagious. They’re caused by the herpes simplex type 1 virus (not the type 2 virus that causes genital herpes). The virus can be picked up by kissing someone with a blister, or just by touching something an infected person has come in contact with, such as dishes or towels.
Without treatment, cold sores typically last seven to 10 days—which can feel like an eternity to the cold-sore sufferer. These natural remedies help cold sores heal and disappear fast.
1. Lemon Balm
Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis), an herb from the mint family, has antiviral and calming properties. In a German study, lemon balm cream was shown to cut cold sore healing time in half—just five days, compared to 10 days in a control group. It contains a chemical compound called eugenol that has antiviral properties and also helps to numb tissues and reduce pain.
Lysine is an essential amino acid used to make protein needed to produce infection-fighting antibodies. Supplements and topical applications of lysine have been found to inhibit the spread of the herpes simplex virus. In a study from Southern California University, topical applications of lysine ointment healed cold sores in three days in 40% of study participants, and in 87% in six days. As a supplement, the recommended dosage is 1,000 mg three times per day.
3. Oil of Oregano
Oregano oil (Originum vulgare) is known to be antibacterial, antiviral, and antimicrobial. In a study published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, oregano inhibited the replication of the herpes simplex type 1 virus. Oregano oil can be dabbed on cold sores every few hours or as needed. It can also be taken internally when mixed with water; follow label instructions.
4. Bee propolis
Propolis is a resinous substance produced by bees to seal their hives and keep germs out. Research demonstrates that this strongly antibacterial and antimicrobial substance is active against herpes simplex type 1 virus. It is available in capsules, extracts, and in ointments. Use according to label instructions.
5. Reishi and Astragalus
Reishi mushroom has a long history of use in Traditional Chinese Medicine. It is most commonly used to boost immunity, and preliminary research shows its antiviral properties help to inhibit the spread of the herpes virus. A typical dosage is 600 mg once or twice a day. Its effects are enhanced when taken with the Chinese herb astragalus, also used to strengthen immunity.
QUANTUM HEALTH Super Lysine+ Cold Sore Treatment instantly soothes and heals with lysine and bee propolis.
KING BIO Cold Sores & Herpes homeopathic formula provides relief from the stinging, itching, and tingling of cold sores.
THE VITAMIN SHOPPE L-Lysine fights the herpes simplex virus with 500 mg of the amino acid L-Lysine.