Medical herbalist Nicola Parker explains the triggers and treatment for those dreaded cold sores

Propolis is made by bees, a blend of wax and plant sap that our pollen spreading friends use to protect their beehive from infection but can also help the human immune system.

Friday, 12th June 2020, 12:30 pm

We appear to have hit the second cold sore season of the year.

Cold sores are more prevalent during winter and summer, being triggered by both cold weather and sunshine. Once you have caught the cold sore virus, unfortunately, you are stuck with it for life, but by avoiding triggers, you can help keep the virus dormant and the blisters at bay.

Cold sores are extremely contagious, so even without the social distancing regulations we are currently living by, you should always avoid sharing anything your mouth has come into contact with if you have a cold sore. Avoid sharing cups, cutlery, lipstick and don’t kiss anyone when you have a cold sore, especially children and babies. Passing on the cold sore virus to new born babies can be very dangerous.

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Once you have the cold sore virus, you’ll notice that common triggers set off the familiar tingle. I’ve already mentioned sunshine and cold weather, but in my experience, the biggest trigger is allowing yourself to become run down. At the moment, the hotter weather – combined with the additional stress of living in a global pandemic – means feeling run down is not uncommon.

People are overworked, worried, missing their families, worried about their jobs and businesses and what the future might hold for them. Although an afternoon in the sun can provide some relief from these worries, it’s triggering the cold sore virus in many of us that are prone to it.

A healthy immune system can help to keep the cold sore virus under control, so taking extra precautions to keep yourself healthy during this time may help stop the blisters appearing.

When dealing with cold sores, I use an approach that deals a two-pronged attack, tackling the virus from the inside and with topical treatments on the outside. Internally, it is worth taking lysine capsules or tablets. Lysine is an amino acid, a type of protein famous for helping to suppress the cold sore virus.

Medical herbalist and columnist Nicola Parker

Some people use a low dose of lysine regularly, especially those prone to frequent cold sore outbreaks. It is also possible to use a high dose periodically, as and when it is needed. If you are prone to the occasional cold sore, a bottle of lysine would be a useful addition to your medicine cabinet.

Start using lysine the moment you feel the initial tingle and you might find that it stops the breakout all together. If you are too late to stop the sore completely, lysine should still support your body in limiting the number of days that you are affected by the actual sore.

Once the cold sore has broken out, there are topical herbal treatments that can be used to speed the healing process. I recommend a propolis treatment called Bio Propolis, which comes in a tube with a narrow end, designed to specifically target cold sores as they appear around the mouth and nose.

Propolis is made by bees, a blend of wax and plant sap that our pollen spreading friends use to protect their beehive from infection. Humans have a long history of using this natural technology to heal and protect themselves from infections, especially in times of weakness, like when we are run down, stressed or exposed to infection and viruses.

Preventing the virus is the best course of action, so if you’re not feeling at your best or if sunshine on a hot day is a known trigger, try lysine tablets for some added defence. Yet, if you are the victim of regular cold sores, it’s important to look beyond the virus itself and ask yourself why your immune system is struggling. Your GP may be able to help to root out any underlying cause and your local herbalist can help support your immunity to build you back up to where you should be.

Self-care and a good diet are simple but effective tools for a strong immune system, providing a good foundation for health. If all else fails and you find yourself caught out, applying some propolis – the medicine of the bees – can work wonders when we need it most.

For more information, contact Nicola at her clinic on 01524 413733.