Homeopathy for Cold Sores
Cold sores can be embarrassing and painful. Traditional crèmes and medications that treat cold sores can be expensive and cause unpleasant side effects. Luckily, Homeopathic remedies exist that can lessen the severity of cold sores and reduce the frequency of future outbreaks.
What Are Cold Sores?
Cold sores are lesions or blisters on the lip and around the mouth that are red, burning, and release fluids that scab over. Cold sores on the mouth are caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). Type 1 of the virus more commonly produces sores around the mouth; Type 2 more commonly causes lesions on the genital areas of men and women.
The virus can lay dormant in the central nervous system until something triggers the appearance of a cold sore—stress, a lowered immune system, common colds and fever, lack of sleep, nutritional deficiencies, extreme temperatures like sunburn, menstruation, and infections. Blisters can appear weeks after a person first experiences a trigger factor. Outbreaks usually reappear on the same location of the body.
Herpes, the skin virus that causes cold sores, is contagious. It can be spread through contact with the fluids on a lesion, through sexual intercourse, oral sex, kissing or other contact with mucous membranes and saliva. It can also be transmitted by sharing common items, such as toothbrush, towels, and razors with someone who has herpes.
Cold sores cannot be cured. But homeopathic remedies can help relieve the symptoms (burning, itching) and lower the frequency of outbreaks.
How to Prevent Cold Sore Outbreaks
To help prevent cold sores, it is important to boost the immune system. Conventional medicine’s answer to treating herpes and cold sores is to prescribe drugs that interrupt viral replication, such as Acyclovir. While pharmaceutical treatments are proven to be effective in reducing the duration and frequency of outbreaks, they can require daily use of the drugs for suppression therapy. In some individuals, the medications may cause unwanted side effects with long-term use. Unfortunately, this form of treatment does not help the body adapt to control the infection on its own; outbreaks often return when you cease taking the medication regularly.
Diet is very important in preventing cold sore outbreaks. Foods that can aggravate cold sores contain processed sugar, salt, alcohol, coffee, some cooked meats, and foods that contain L-lysine, like grains, nuts, and chocolate (see more on lysine below).
Vitamins play a role in relieving cold sores. Vitamin B12 and B complex supplements can improve symptoms and make cold sores heal faster. Other common sense ways to prevent or lessen cold sores is to protect yourself from the sun, get plenty of sleep, practice stress-reducing techniques such as meditation and deep breathing, and eat well.
Homeopathic Remedies for Cold Sores
Homeopathic remedies can boost your immune system, raise your resistance to cold sores, induce the body to protect against the infection, and spur the healing process.
- One of the most common remedies is Natrum Muriaticum (Nat mur), taken at the first sign of tingling and burning to prevent an outbreak. It is useful on sores on the mouth, nose, face, and chin. Take Nat mur at 6C potency four times a day for three days. It is also good when a full outbreak happens and the sore begins to crack and bleed, but not when fluid is blistering. Nat mur works well when stress is the trigger for a cold sore.
- If Natrum muriaticum helps at the onset of a cold sore, Rhus toxicodendron helps at the more advanced stage when fluid is seeping from the sore. Rhus tox promotes a crusting of the sore and dries it up. The active ingredient in Rhus tox (commonly known as poison ivy) is toxicodendric acid, which can be used as a medicinal in counteracting other skin rashes. Use Nat mur and Rhus tox as a one/two punch treatment strategy.
- Dulcamara (bittersweet) is helpful for cold sores that are aggravated by cold, rainy weather, and when a person is feeling damp and chilly, coming down with a cold, or around menstruation. Dulcamara is effective against sores on the face and genitals. It relieves burning and itching, works on blistering sores that have formed a yellowish crust, helps bleeding sores, and reduces inflammation.
- Sepia (cuttlefish ink) works on sores around the lips, mouth, nose, and nasal areas on sores that have blistered and ooze fluid. Sepia is especially effective on people who are lethargic and in women during pregnancy, during menstruation, or during menopause. Try sepia if other homeopathic remedies don’t work for you.
Other Recommended Treatments for Cold Sores
In additional to using the previously describe homeopathic remedies, other supplements can help treat cold sores. Topical treatments, such as Zinc, can help relieve symptoms, reduce duration of sores, and prevent recurrences. Vitamin C helps reduce duration of sores, while Vitamin E provides pain relief. Grapefruit seed extract, with its strong antibacterial and antiviral properties, helps when mixed with olive oil and dabbed on the sore.
Another popular remedy is lysine. The herpes virus is triggered by the amino acid L-arginine, which aids its growth and reproduction. The amino acid L-lysine inhibits the virus’s ability to replicate. Arginine is found in whole grains and cereals, oatmeal, peas, chocolate, raisins, and nuts and seeds, so reduce your intake of these foods to reduce the frequency of cold sores.
Lysine is found in dairy, potatoes, and brewer’s yeast. Plain yogurt with live cultures, which stimulates the immune system, is especially beneficial, but be sure to eat gelatin-free yogurt. All these foods are high in lysine and can boost your resistance. You can also take a lysine supplement, typically 1,500 to 3,000 mg daily just before an outbreak or during an outbreak, and 300-600 mg as a maintenance dosage. Lysine should be taken on an empty stomach. Zinc can also be consumed internally. Foods high in zinc are seafood, eggs, turkey, and sunflower and pumpkin seeds.
The Complete Homeopathic Resource for Common Illnesses by Dennis Chernin.
Homeopathy Forums provides articles and information on herpes.
ABC Homeopathy offers additional information on selecting homeopathic remedies for cold sores.