Saturday, April 15, 2006

COLD SORES - What Causes Them?


Question: Doc, what causes outbreaks of cold sores, oral herpes, and fever blisters?


Cold sores, oral herpes and fever blisters are all the same thing. The root cause of these sores, of course, is the herpes simplex virus.

The outbreaks, or lack of outbreaks, are dependent on your level of health. Also, how you handle stress, and the foods you eat all come into play here. What causes cold sores for you? Let's take a look. Perhaps then you will be able to evaluate the cold sore remedies that are available.

Simply put, the stronger your health, the stronger your immune system. The stronger your body's defense system the less likely your herpes simplex virus will wake up and produce cold sores. If you get cold sores frequently, then upgrading your health level will help prevent cold sores.

Vibrant health is a huge topic about which many books have been written. But you know the basics. High-fiber nutrient-dense foods such as fresh vegetables, low impact exercise, no smoking, limited alcohol consumption, and sleep. Also, today, it's very wise - no matter how good your diet - to take a GOOD vitamin supplement - one that contains a large quantity of B vitamins (considered the anti-stress vitamins) and anti-oxidants to supercharge your immune system.

This includes both physical and mental stress. Keep in mind that mental stress always affects us physically too. Stress is blamed as the No. 1 cause of outbreaks of cold sores. Because the herpes virus lives in the nervous system cells, it's very sensitive to stress changes. You can't avoid all stress in your life, but keeping a high level of health will help you cope with the physical aspects of stress.

Some of the main stress events that studies show wake up the herpes simplex virus are illnesses such as colds (thus the term "cold sores") and fevers (thus the term "fever blisters"). Also physical injuries, dental work, pregnancy, allergies, environmental toxins, medications, or an upcoming event like a wedding or funeral causes cold sores. Weddings are particularly bad for cold sores - according to the ton of mail I get.

Besides a good diet to improve your general health, take a look at these two amino acids (protein fractions) - lysine and arginine for your cold sores.

Studies have shown that lysine is a strong deterrent to cold sores. Lysine not only helps keep the cold sores virus latent, but also, if already active, will encourage the virus to go back into hibernation. Foods rich in lysine include eggs, most vegetables, legumes, avocado, chicken, fish, turkey, and ricotta cheese. Additionally, many folks take a lysine supplement. These normally come in a 500 mg. tablet or capsule. During oral herpes events, taking 4-6 pills a day seems to help a lot of people.

Arginine, on the other hand, seems to wake up the herpes simplex virus and encourage it to reproduce. This isn't surprising. Arginine is a little known but very powerful sexual enhancer. Foods that are high in arginine are chocolate, nuts (almonds, cashews, peanuts, and walnuts), sunflower and sesame seeds, grains (oat and wheat), peas, most cheeses except ricotta, milk and pork. Don't avoid these foods - just balance them better with the lysine foods. Really - who can avoid chocolate for very long?

I don't avoid chocolate. I just don't make a meal of it. Enjoy chocolate after a meal and you'll be just fine.
And, I wouldn't worry about lysine foods and arganine foods. Just eat a balanced and healthy variety of foods and you should not see an outbreak of cold sores.

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