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Cold Sores

A wakeup call that your immune system is weak

herpesCold sores are caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus, they become noticeable from 3 - 10 days after infection and can last as long as three weeks if not treated.

Treatment is vital from when you fist notice a cold sore developing to prevent further spread. 

The most commonly infected area is the lips and as cold sore blisters are very contagious from the moment they start tingling until the lesion heals completely,  it's important not to kiss anyone and to avoid intimate contact.

This means if you or someone close is infected, you must avoid kissing, sharing utensils, sexual intercourse or touching anything that the infected persons lesion has touched, even the towel used by infected person has used can transmit the virus to you. So be careful!

You can also spread cold sores to other parts of your own body including the genitals, so be careful when washing, do not use the same towel you dried your face (or other affected area) with on other parts of your body.

The first sign of a developing cold sore is usually a tingling or itchy sensation, (this is when you should start treatment), then a small bump develops and turns into a blister. There is often some inflammation in the area and fluid or pus may ooze from the blister. Some people experience flu-like symptoms and fever from a cold sore outbreak although there is usually less discomfort with recurrence of cold sores than with the initial outbreak.

In America it is estimated that as many as 90% of all people have the cold sore virus of which 55 million experience recurrent symptoms, so you you see this is a very common viral infection. Once infected, the virus remains in the body forever and repeated outbreaks can be triggered by:

  • colds or fevers
  • over exposure to the sun
  • stress, anxiety & depression
  • extreme tiredness
  • suppressed immune system.

Note: If a cold sore develops near the eyes, the cornea can become affected and blindness may result. If a cold sore appears on the forehead, near the eyes or on the tip of the nose, see an Opthalmologist.

The Cold Sore virus will become active when the immune system is weakened - whether from stress, nutritional deficiencies, another disease or any environmentally related factor, during menstruation, with a fever, infection or cold, or after exposure to sun and wind.

The future of Herpes treatment Herpes sufferers should keep the cold sores "clean, dry and friction free," according to the American National Herpes Hotline. That means wearing loose fitting clothes and abstaining even from protected sex. "Exercise, a healthy diet rich in nutrition, weight control and stress management are still the first line of defence against herpes,"

So, while science continues to search for cures, lysine therapy, common sense, and prevention remain the most powerful weapons in the war against herpes.

What is Herpes?

Herpes or cold sores are actually an inflammation of the sensory nerves and not skin infections, the cold sore is the external manifestation of the virus. In between outbreaks, the herpes DNA survives in nerve centres at the base of the brain called ganglia. During outbreaks, the DNA replicates, forming a virus. The virus passes down the nerve to the skin where it causes lesions (cold sores).

Prevention

To avoid contracting the herpes virus, one must also avoid any physical contact with someone who is infected. This means you must also avoid sharing utensils, clothing, bedroom and bathroom linen.

A natural and healthy wholefood diet is primarily a preventative measure because it helps to keep your immune system strong and therefore reduce the chances of infection. When infected, restricting the foods described below will accelerate recovery. But after recovery, a good healthy diet will reduce the recurrence of cold sore outbreaks.

Treatments

The most popular treatment is acyclovir (Zovirax) which is available from pharmacies. Colloidal Silver Cream is also very effective.

Exercise diet and nutrition:

  • Foods that should be avoided are refined carbohydrates including white flour and sugar, colas and coffee, alcohol and processed foods. During outbreaks, foods that contain the amino acid Arginine should also be avoided. These include gelatine, chicken, wheat germ, cereals, soybeans, almonds, peanuts, walnuts, cashews, carob and chocolate. Arginine competes with lysine for absorption and citrus foods may also irritate the infection.
  • Supplements that have a direct effect on the virus include: Lysine, B complex, Vitamin C with Bioflavonoids, Vitamin E and the mineral Zinc. These nutrients are needed for a strong immune system and for the production of collagen.The significance of Lysine: the amino acid Lysine slows or alters the growth of the virus, and foods that are rich in this amino acid should be included in the diet. Some examples are fish and shellfish, bean sprouts, brewers yeast, beans, fruit, vegetables and eggs.

According to researcher Christopher Kagan, M.D., herpes DNA uses the amino acid L-arginine to replicate itself and form a virus. "Early studies using laboratory cultures demonstrated that L-arginine was necessary for herpes growth," Kagan stated, "It soon became clear that another amino acid, L-lysine, blocked the bio-availability of arginine. By 1981, Dr. Griffith had demonstrated that lysine concentrations similar to those found in human blood could suppress herpes growth in lab cultures." Several clinical studies have supported the efficacy of Lysine supplementation for herpes therapy. In one survey, 88% of 1,543 cold sore sufferers reported benefiting from lysine therapy. "More research on Lysine is still needed," says Kagan, "but lysine therapy has produced some positive results."

Tips:

  • Have regular sensible meals - don't forget fruit and vegetables!
  • Try to limit stress and other immune system burdens.
  • Avoid sugary or fatty food.
  • If cold sore outbreaks occur often, check for low thyroid function and immune system dysfunction.

Image credit to Dr TVu Rao on Slide Share

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