Kitchen & Garden, Medicine Chest, Uncategorized

What to do about cold sores?

We’re very excited for good friend of the Pod, who is getting married soon. She also gets a cold sore from time-to-time, like so many of us do.

To help keep our gorgeous girl feeling excited and exquisite on her big day, we have some tips that may come in handy.

What is a cold sore?

A cold sore is a viral infection (and consequent recurrence) that occurs on the skin, normally on or around the lips or nose. It’s commonly caused by a virus called herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1 ), and can be shared by contact like kissing, sharing cutlery, towels, etc. Genital herpes is usually caused by HSV-2.

It’s very likely that once you have had a cold sore, it may come back when you are stressed, sick or tired. Luckily, there are lots of things that you can do to prevent this and manage any flare ups that do occur.

How to prevent a flare up

There’s a saying that the best defence is a good offence – and it definitely applies to the management of cold sores! A few plays to add to your game plan:


  • Increase foods containing lysine – salmon, tuna, yoghurt and cheese.
    Lysine is one of your most important players. It stops the replication of HSV-1 and helps to reduce the occurrence, severity and length of an outbreak.


  • Limit foods containing arginine.
    Arginine is essential for the replication of the virus. Keep arginine-rich foods like nuts, oats, turkey and chocolate, on the bench – especially during an outbreak.


  • Warm up!
    Cold weather can trigger your cold sores and dry out your skin. Rug up against cold weather and keep moisturised with vitamin E-containing creams.


  • Stress less.
    Athletes have rest days to relieve the stress placed on their body and allow recovery time. Stress, whether it is mental, physical or emotional, can dampen your immune system, giving that dormant cold sore opportunity to score.


  • Feed your immune system
    Your immune system is your real defence, and supporting its function is crucial in any person in and any team. Ensure you’ve got a steady intake of vitamin c and zinc (think green leafy vegetables and pumpkin seeds), and get your fill of sunlight and vitamin D!

Putting up a fight

If you do find yourself suffering from a cold sore, which may happen from time to time, there are a range of herbal medicines that have been shown to help.

Lemon Balm – Melissa officinalis

Lemon balm is one of the key herbs to use for cold sores.

  • It has specific anti-viral activity against enveloped herpes viruses (HSV-1 and HSV-2).
  • The oil of the plant is fat-soluble, and therefore able to be absorbed into the skin, making it ideal for topical treatment of cold sores.

St Johns Wort – Hypericum perforatum

Commonly associated with its anti-depressant action, St Johns Wort also displays anti-viral and anti-inflammatory activity. This herb should be at the top of your list for the treatment of cold sores!

St Johns Wort can interact with some medications (including the oral contraceptive pill). Check with your health practitioner before using this alongside other medications.

Andrographis – Andrographis officinalis

Herbal extracts of Andrographis are commonly used to support the body in fighting of viruses, like the common cold and flu. Its helps to stimulate immune system in acute situations.

NB some people may be allergic to Andrographis. If this is you, a preparation of Echinacea root (not flowers or leaves) may be a more suitable option.


For further reading on herbs:

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