Every fall and winter season in my dental practices I see more cold sores. Patients have expressed their true pains, suffering, and ultimately embarrassment associated with these outer lip lesions. So, I put together a WHAT, WHERE, WHO, WHY and HOW Guide of cold sores.
First, let’s make an overview of what a cold sore is. A cold sore is a small, fluid-filled vesicle caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus, HSV-1. Typically, this sore present themselves like a blister-like vesicle and forms on the outside of the lips. The vesicles rupture, and crust over like a scab. The sore and scar tend to stay on the lip from 10-20 days. Break down of: WHAT, WHERE, WHO, WHY and HOW.
WHAT: Cold sores are caused by a virus Herpes Simplex HSV-1
WHERE: Typically on the outer lip, tongue, or hard tissues in the mouth
WHO: Approximate 50-60% of the American population carry the HSV-1. Only 30% of those people will experience the physical outbreak presentation. People who experience this virus outbreak typically have triggers, sun, change in weather (ex: hot to cold), or stressful events.
WHY: A low immune system or mineral deficiencies can be the root cause of the outbreak
HOW TO HELP: To correct the root cause, the foundations of nutritional therapy need to be address and balanced. Read more below.
Digestion and diet are especially important for proper immune function. Proper immune function is critical for fighting off a cold sore caused by the virus herpes simple, or HSV-1. If the digestive system is not working well, due to a stressed-out system, or from a sugary-carbohydrate rich diet, then the body is not receiving all the nutrients required for proper function. When this happens, normal functions to simply maintain health begin to faulter. Immunity governs over the body’s health and helps avoid illness (a virus outbreak). When there are even minor mineral deficiencies, the body’s homeosis is compromised. Thus, compromising much more than just immunity. Digestion can become a burden when the body does not have all the minerals or fatty acids it needs to create essential digestive juices. It is a vicious cycle. Not enough digestive juices means not enough digestion. Not enough digestion means fewer minerals being processed. Fewer minerals means less potent digestive juices are being made and foods are not being broken down into proper minerals. The stomach and gut are getting weaker and weaker. See the vicious cycle at play here?
That is why it is so important to stay focused on a nutrient-dense, whole food diet. To try to ensure plenty of minerals are going into the system. To naturally boosts the body’s ability to fight off the infection on its own. Eating a well-rounded diet is important. Eat grass-fed, pastured animal proteins, try adding more colorful veggies to every meal and get in good quality fats. Absolutely no processed oils. Other than ensuring you are getting the proper macronutrients in your daily life.
I recommend these other avenues:
- Lemon water first thing in the mornings to hydrate and to boost the natural stomach juices. Hydrochloric acid in the stomach digests bacteria, VIRUSES, parasites, prions the same way it does with any other protein.
- Probiotics. These healthy bugs are amazing for colonizing in the stomach lining and having an army in your gut ready to fight at a moment’s notice. Find them in fermented foods, like gingered carrots or kimchi (my fav brand here), fermented teas, on uncooked produce from a home garden and can also be taken in supplementation form. Here are brands that I like and trust; EnviromedicaTerraFlora Probiotics , Jarrow and Garden of Life.
- Digestive enzymes. These reaction starters are just that; reaction starters and boosters. These are responsible for helping finish important metabolic reactions within the body and making sure the digested vitamins and minerals get to their destination. Find them also in fermented foods and supplement forms, as well as in tropical fruits like papaya, pineapples, and mangos. Here is the kind I have used in the past.
- Vitamins Specific for Cold Sores- B vitamins are amazing for the immune system, and a B vitamin deficiency can make one more susceptible to infections. I like these B vitamins, after starting them and being consistent, I felt more energy and an overall boost in my being. Specifically, lysine is important for the prevention of cold sores.
- Quality proteins- Lysine is an essential amino acid incredibly important for cold sore prevention. Our bodies do not form lysine on their own, we need to eat it to get it. Some lysine-rich foods are meats, eggs, cheese, and spirulina. And so far I have liked this brand.
*BONUS TIP*: And if you have already gotten a cold sore, or suffer from chronically chapped lips, this is the most moisturizing chapstick I have ever used. Try it to soothe a sore, and lock in moisture for quick healing.
Try these simple tips and see how well your body is able to fight off any infection this fall season. Never underestimate how powerful food can be to strengthen your body. Give the body what it needs, and take away what it does not need. Your body (and help from a healthcare practitioner) will figure out the rest. If you have sore in the corner of the lips, it may not be from a virus, read here for more info on this infection. More questions on this topic? Just reach out. I am happy to help any way I can!