If you suffer from cold sores, you are not alone. An estimated 80 million Americans are affected by the virus that causes cold sores.

About 90% of adults test positive for the virus and some never experience symptoms, according to the Mayo Clinic. A primary infection occurs in most people who are exposed to the virus, but only about 20% of people infected develop sores.

If you’re part of the 20% who suffer from cold sores, there are a multitude of natural-based remedies that can help you heal faster, find relief, and even stop or prevent the outbreaks. Be willing to experiment with the different options available and you’ll likely find a combination of methods to ease the pain and duration of your outbreaks.

What is a cold sore?

Cold sores or “fever blisters” are small blisters that form in clusters or as a single blister. The blisters can appear anywhere on the body, but are most commonly found on or around the mouth, nose, cheeks, genitalia, lower back, buttocks, anus, and fingers.

A cold sore outbreak can range widely in size and appearance. They may appear as a small cut or a widespread rash. Cold sores tend to spring up in or around the mouth or nose, and the pain they inflict can be severe for some people.

What causes cold sores?

Cold sores are caused by a DNA-virus, called the herpes simplex virus, which is contagious and spreads through contact with the sores, secretions, or bodily fluids of an infected person. The herpes simplex virus enters the body through broken skin or mucous membranes, like the mouth or genitalia.

Even when blisters aren’t visible, an infected person can still spread the virus. This is called “asymptomatic viral shedding.”

There are two different strains of the cold sore-causing herpes virus: herpes simplex 1 and herpes simplex 2.

Herpes simplex 1 (HSV-1) is often referred to as oral herpes as the blisters from this strain usually appear on the mouth or other areas of the face.

Herpes simplex 2 (HSV-2) is the strain responsible for genital herpes or “sacral herpes,” which commonly appear anywhere on the genitals, lower back, buttocks, or anal area, but rarely the mouth. In women, the cervix and vagina can also be affected by HSV-2 while locations for men may include the head and shaft of the penis, scrotum, and thighs.

Both strains of the virus can spread to any part of the body. For example, HSV-1 can be spread to the genitals and HSV-2 can be spread to the mouth, especially through oral sex. Both strains can spread to the fingers (herpes whitlow) and to the eyes (herpes keratitis.)

The HSV-2 strain is often transmitted via sexual contact with an infected person, but HSV-1 is usually transmitted through oral contact with the virus.

Once you’ve contracted it, the herpes simplex virus lives permanently within the nerve cells where it hibernates until triggered to awaken. After awakening, the virus makes its way back to the skin where it replicates, basically cloning itself. After the first outbreak, the infected person may experience recurring outbreaks or none at all.

Cold sore symptoms

Some people who have the herpes simplex virus experience little or no symptoms while others have a multitude.

The symptoms that can accompany the herpes virus include:

  • Fever
  • Painful gums
  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Swollen glands or lymph nodes
  • Neck stiffness in severe cases of HSV-2
  • Sensitivity to light in severe cases of HSV-2
  • Painful urination
  • Urethral or vaginal discharge

Herpes Virus Triggers

The virus can be triggered to awaken and flare up due to a number of factors. Cut down on the known triggers to help prevent flare ups from occurring:

  • Fever
  • Viral infection or illnesses like a cold or the flu
  • Fatigue, lack of sleep
  • Stress or anxiety
  • Surgery
  • Poor diet
  • Refined sugars, aspartame
  • Acidity
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Gluten
  • Foods that are rich in arginine, like wheat, chocolate, and nuts
  • Weakened immune system
  • Changes in hormones
  • Sunlight and wind exposure
  • Friction to the area of infection

Cold sore stages

For the estimated 20% of people that develop cold sores from the herpes virus, the blisters typically appear within 2 – 20 days after the first exposure and last for 1 – 3 weeks. Learning to identify the different stages of cold sores can help you to know when one is coming on and take preventative measures.

1. The prodrome stage

Before a cold sore becomes visible, many people experience an itching, burning, tight, or tingling sensation. This is called the prodrome period and even at this early stage, the virus can be contagious.

2. The active stage

When visible blisters begin to form, it’s called the active stage. Blisters usually appear between 6 – 48 hours after the prodrome stage.

These red, swollen, painful blisters arise at the site where the infection entered the body. They usually contain a clear fluid (called vesicles), but they can resemble a bump that’s filled with pus (called pustules). This stage can last from 2 – 4 days.

3. The ulcer stage

The sores burst within a couple of days after arrival, leaving you with a deflated, open ulcer. The ulcers usually stick around for a day.

4. Healing stage

A thin layer of crust forms over the ulcer, acting as a scab that will eventually shrink as the sore heals. During this process, new skin is beginning to regenerate underneath the scab, which takes about 8 – 10 days for most people.

It can take 2 – 4 weeks for a cold sore to completely heal up. Recurring infections typically clear up in 7 – 10 days. Even after the healing process has taken place and the symptoms are no longer present, the virus is still lying dormant within the nerves.

Once the virus makes its way to the skin, it replicates itself, which is why cold sores tend to come up repeatedly. You’ll need to have a basic understanding of this replication process and how you can interfere with it to better manage the outbreaks.

Remedies to stop an outbreak

If you’re suffering from a cold sore, your biggest concern is getting rid of it as soon as possible. A strong immune system is important, but you’ll also need an arsenal of supplies to assist your fight against the invading virus. These supplies should be of the anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, and antibiotic varieties.

A slew of natural substances have been found capable of fighting the herpes virus. These special remedies can be used to get a cold sore under control and keep it from further developing. However, treatments will be more effective if used at the first sign of an outbreak — usually the first tingling sensation.

So here is the list of remedies you should try:

1. Tea tree oil

Tea tree oil in the bottleTea tree oil can halt the development of cold sores when used during the prodrome stage or as soon as you feel the symptoms of a cold sore. It has anti-microbial, anti-viral, anti-fungal, anti-septic, and anti-bacterial properties, making it a powerful remedy in the fight against cold sores.

Australian tea tree oil was found to exhibit high levels of virucidal activity against both HSV-1 and HSV-2.

If a blister is beyond the prodrome stage, tea tree oil may lessen the severity and duration of the outbreak. Many people find that cold sores dry up and begin healing quickly after application of the oil.


In order to use tea tree oil on cold sores, first dilute it with water or a carrier such as olive oil. Combine 2 or 3 drops of the carrier oil or water with a drop of tea tree oil and use a cotton swap to dab it on.

2. Reishi mushroom

reishi mushroomReishi mushroom can stop a recurring outbreak. Reishi mushrooms contain a polysaccharide component, called GLhw-02, which has demonstrated anti-viral properties against HSV-1 and HSV-2.


The typical method of its use is to take four doses of reishi extract, spaced out throughout the day until you reach a total of 250 milligrams.

In order to reduce the frequency of cold sore outbreaks, 60 milligrams of reishi extract can be taken daily.

3. DMSO (dimethyl sulfoxide)

It is a naturally occurring substance in milk and decomposing fresh algae, blocks the DNA replication of the herpes simplex-1 virus, according to a research.

DMSO can enter the cell and according to some doctors, actually kill the herpes virus. The oxygen in DMSO makes it impossible for the virus to survive. DMSO is also used as a carrier in anti-herpetic drugs because it can penetrate the skin, allowing active ingredients to work more effectively.

DMSO heals wounds and relieves pain and inflammation. It’s also used to enhance immunity and increase white blood cell count. White blood cells fight off harmful microorganisms and viruses.


The typical treatment protocol is to apply DMSO to sores for three days after the initial outbreak. Then the DMSO is applied to the outbreak area for 3 days of each month for the next 5 months.

4. Neem

neem bundleIn high doses, it stops cold sore outbreaks for some people. Researches from John Hopkins University noted that neem provided significant protection from HSV-2 virus.

Neem is said to be most effective if taken at the first signs of the prodrome phase. The anti-septic properties in neem oil keeps the blisters clean and reduces the chances of it becoming infected.

The anti­microbial and anti­septic properties of this valuable herb can also help to keep blisters clean and reduce the chances of infection.


When you feel a cold sore coming on, you can make use of neem either by drinking neem tea or using oral neem leaf supplements. This will also boost your immune system. If the cold sores have already developed apply a topical ointment that uses neem seed oil as the active ingredient at least once daily.

5. Astragalus

astragulusIt displayed an inhibitory effect against the herpes simplex-1 virus in a test tube study that used 500 milligrams of the herb. Astragalus is also used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for restoring a suppressed immune system, a common problem among people who suffer with the herpes virus.


A daily dose of 500 milligrams of astragalus has been reported to prevent recurrent outbreaks of both oral and genital sores.

6. Melatonin

melatonin supplementMelatonin and SB-73 formula caused the herpes virus to regress in over 95% of participants in a study group. The formula consisted of 2.5 milligrams of melatonin, magnesium, phosphate, and fatty acids from the mold species Aspergillus, which has anti-herpes virus properties. The study group experienced regression of the virus after only 7 days of treatment.

All four ingredients are available as dietary supplements. Melatonin is a naturally occurring chemical in the brain, but melatonin supplements are also available at drugstores. If you choose to supplement with melatonin, aim for one that contains 2.5 milligrams or get a 5 milligram tablet and take half.

Additionally, make sure that your magnesium and phosphate intake is sufficient. Foods high in bothphosphate and magnesium include leafy greens like spinach, avocados, squash and pumpkin seeds. Lastly, aspergillus is often used in fermented foods, but can also be obtained through a probiotic supplement.

7. Peppermint essential oil

Peppermint oil stops viruses, including herpes from reproducing. Along with potent anti-viral properties, peppermint oil also soothes inflammation and encourages faster healing.


In order to use on cold sores, mix a drop of peppermint oil with a drop of water or carrier oil to dilute, then apply it directly to the sore as needed.

8. Resveratrol

Resveratrol inhibits both HSV-1 and HSV-2, including drug-resistant strains.

Resveratrol cream proved to be just as effective on genital herpes as the prescription anti-viral ointment Zovirax. It was found that resveratrol cream suppresses a cold sore outbreak if applied 2 -5 times daily and within the first 1 – 6 hours of infection. For cold sores that are already active, resveratrol ointments can reduce their appearance and help them heal.

Resveratrol, a polyphenol compound found in foods like red grapes, has strong antioxidant properties. Antioxidants can have a positive effect on your body’s ability to fight viruses as they prevent disease and provide your immune system with protection. Resveratrol, in the form of grapefruit seed extract, can be used on the cold sores. Resveratrol capsules are also available in most health food stores.


The standard dosage is 100 milligrams of resveratrol taken twice daily.

9. Vitamin C

It might keep you from developing a cold sore. Doses between 5,000 to 10,000 milligrams are recommended for daily prevention. Vitamin C usage has also been reported to provide speedier healing times and relief from pain caused by cold sores. It’s best if you can get your Vitamin C from a natural source, but if not, supplementing may be necessary.

10. Apple cider vinegar

Some people report that applying apple cider vinegar at the first sign of a cold sore will stop them from coming up.


Swab the apple cider vinegar onto the area as often as possible to discourage the sore from developing.

11. Propolis

An antioxidant-rich resin that comes from beehives, shows an impressive ability to stop the reproduction of both HSV-1 and HSV-2. Research findings suggest this natural remedy to be even more effective at healing herpes lesions than Zovirax, a prescription ointment. A 3% solution of propolis helped reduce the duration and pain of cold sores for some people.


Propolis ointments are widely available at drugstores or online. For best results ook for one that boasts natural ingredients apply the ointment as directed or at the first sign of an outbreak.

12. Cayenne pepper

cayenne pepperIt slows down the virus’ travel from the nerve cells to the skin in recurring outbreaks. Cayenne is used to heal ulcers and herpes outbreaks. This powerful, vitamin-packed pepper also works as a painkiller, reduces inflammation, and gives your immune system a boost.


Add the fresh powder of cayenne to your food or take it in the form of a capsule.

13. Zinc

Zinc salts were found effective in a experiment that used the salts to topically treat herpes infections (in vivo). Applied as a topical solution, zinc salts decrease viral load, relieve symptoms, and improve healing rates. Secondly, they were effective at stopping the virus from replicating (in vitro).


50 milligrams of zinc can be taken daily while a topical solution can be applied to the sores.

14. Artesunate

This medication inhibits the HSV-1 virus and has anti-viral activity that’s effective against drug-resistant viruses, according to research conducted at the German Cancer Research Center. Artesunate medications use partially synthetic derivatives of the artemisia annua plant and is available by prescription.


Artemisinin is the herbal supplement that’s available without prescription and the dose used for the herpes virus is 180 milligrams at a time, taken 1 ­ 3 times daily.

15. Chamomile essential oil

Chamomile oil exhibited the strongest anti-viral effect against the herpes virus. Among chamomile, other essential oils that proved effectiveness against herpes include thyme, anise, hyssop, sandalwood, and ginger. These essential oils are prepared for internal use and sold as dietary supplements.

16. Olive leaf extract

olive treeOlive leaf extract supports the immune system and protects the body against sickness. Olive leaf is used to treat numerous illness, including the herpes virus, thanks to its ability to penetrate infected cells and inactivate viruses. It also prevents viral shedding and inhibits the growth of viruses, fungi, bacteria, and protozoa.


The recommended dosage is 500 milligrams of olive leaf extract taken every 6 hours up to 4 times daily until symptoms subside.

17. Pine cone extractpine cone on a tree branch

Pine cone may be useful in the treatment of HSV-1 and HSV-2, according to research. The evidence suggests that the extract of pine cones has an inhibitory effect on the herpes simplex virus. Pine cone extract applied on the sores and taken as a tea.

18. Oregano oil

Oregano oil is a natural anti-microbial and antibiotic that fights viruses, infection, and bacteria. It has the exceptional ability to dissolve the cell membrane that viruses and bacteria hide within. This allows the natural bacteria-killing and medicinal properties to go straight to the source.

Carvacrol, a substance in oregano oil, has shown significant anti-viral activity. Researchers at Chung Shan Medical University studied the effect of carvacrol on the herpes virus and found that HSV-1 was 90% inactivated within an hour.


For maximum results oregano oil can be diluted with coconut oil. Swab the diluted oil onto cold sores to relieve irritation and inflammation. If you choose to take oregano oil internally, the standard dose is 2 ­ 3 drops of pure, organic oregano oil under the tongue 2 ­3 times daily.

19. Black currant extract

black currantExtract from black currant has anti-viral activity and inhibitory effects on the herpes simplex virus, according to Japaneese researches.

Aside from fighting the herpes virus, the extract also enhances immunity, reduces inflammation, and kills bacteria. Black currant is considered to have some of the highest levels of antioxidants and the juice is a rich source of Vitamin C.


A daily dose of 750 milligrams of black currant extract seems to be the most common for fighting cold sores.

20. L-lysine

L-lysine fights the virus and promotes healing of cold sores.

When the virus surfaces to the cells, the amino acid arginine must be present for the virus to replicate. Otherwise it retreats back into hiding until the conditions are more favorable. The more arginine available for the virus, the easier it is to attack you.

To cut down on arginine, avoid eating nuts, seeds, grains, gluten, and chocolate.

The amino acid lysine or L-lysine replaces some of the arginine in the cells, making it difficult for the virus to replicate. This amino acid also has anti-viral action and it plays an important role in repairing your skin.

One study found that participants who took L-lysine were less likely to have recurrent infections. The healing time and severity of outbreaks were also significantly reduced.

Increase your lysine intake by consuming the following foods:

  • Beans
  • Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, bok choy, and brussels sprouts. Crucifers contain indole-3-carbinol, which stops the herpes virus from replicating. Indole-3-carbinol has also shown to  decrease the frequency of outbreaks in some.
  • Spirulina
  • Meats like turkey, red meat, and pork
  • Eggs
  • Poultry like cod and sardines
  • Dairy products like Parmesan cheese and milk

Additionally, you can take a lysine supplement.


The typical dosage is 1,000 to 3,000 milligrams daily. Make a paste with a crushed lysine supplement and apply it to blisters for quicker relief.

21. PH level

Balance your body’s pH levels to stop the herpes virus from replicating. With sufficient oxygen and the appropriate pH levels you can prevent the virus from replicating because it cannot survive in the presence of sufficient oxygen.

The body’s pH should be slightly alkaline, somewhere around a 7.4 on the pH scale. A pH below 7 is acidic and not ideal. You can find out where you are on the pH scale by using saliva or urine test strips that are made for this purpose.

A few ways to promote a slightly alkaline state includes consuming plenty of chlorophyll-rich foods like sprouts, spirulina, wheat grass, spinach, kale, and green leaf lettuce.

Avoid consuming acidic foods and beverages and excess sun exposure to keep your body from becoming too acidic. When outdoors, protect your skin with SPF containing lip balms and lotions.

How To Get Relief And Speed The Healing Process

There’s no cure for cold sores, but managing the pain and symptoms of the virus is entirely possible. The use of proper nutrition and medicinal herbs can be just as effective as prescription creams when it comes to soothing cold sores.

The following remedies will help promote faster healing as well as pain relief during a cold sore outbreak:

1. Rhubarb and sagerhubarb

In the form of an ointment it worked as effectively as Zovirax at healing cold sores, according to one clinical study. You can also use the ground herbs to make a paste and apply this onto the sores.

2. Siberian ginseng

ginsengSiberian ginseng may be useful for a myriad of problems associated with herpes. Perhaps most impressive of all is its ability to reduce the severity, duration, and frequency of genital herpes outbreaks, according to a research involving 93 people.

It stimulates and protects the immune system.

Its fatigue-fighting and adaptogenic properties make Siberian ginseng a great remedy for those who are prone to stress and fatigue-related outbreaks.

1,000 milligrams daily of Siberian Ginseng is ideal for most people trying to fight a cold sore.

3. Andrographis

andrographisThis plant is often used in combination with echinacea for the treatment and management of herpes outbreaks. It targets cells that are already infected with the virus and stops it from spreading.

When tested andrographis inhibited the HSV-1 virus. This medical plant strengthens the immune system and has anti-viral, anti-microbial, and anti-inflammatory properties that fight infection. It stimulates the body’s white blood cell count and increases production of antibodies.

Doses of 60 ­ 100 daily milligrams of andrographis is commonly recommended for herpes.

4. Cat’s claw root

It may kill viruses and disease-causing microorganisms. Cat’s claw speeds up the healing process and is widely used for mouth and genital herpes.

The bark and root of cats claw contain an alkaloid, called Isomer A, that increases immune response and works as an antioxidant to dispel free radicals. Add the anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties of cats claw and you have a high-potential remedy to fight cold sores.

A typical dose is 1 gram of root bark taken 2 – 3 times daily, but 20 – 30 milligrams of the extract is recommended, according to Drugs.com.

5. Comfrey root

ComfreyIt is used in order to heal and soothe wounds and burns. The raw root can be grated and applied directly to the affected area or used in the form a salve.

Additionally, you can place a a cotton bud, soaked in comfrey tea, onto sores.

6. Goldenseal extractgoldenseal

It fights infections of of the mucus membranes and promotes healing of ulcers. Dried goldenseal powder can be applied three times daily on HSV-1 and HSV-2 sores.

7. Hyssophyssop

It is a go-to remedy for soothing the pain and inflammation of wounds, cuts, and abrasions. The leaves and stems of hyssop have anti-viral and anti-bacteria. Hyssop stops infection from developing and prevents fungal and bacterial infections from progressing further.

Diluted hyssop oil or tea can be dabbed straight on your cold sores.

8. Violet Leaf

Violet leaf has similar soothing properties as comfrey and can be used for cold sores in the same manner.

9. Rosemary, sage, thyme, and prunella extracts

rosemaryListed above were found to have an anti-viral effect on herpes infections. When the extracts of rosemary, sage, thyme, prunella, peppermint, and lemon balm were used together they displayed therapeutic action as a topical remedy for recurrent HSV­1 and HSV­2 infections.

The extracts of all the above herbs can be mixed together and used topically on lesions.

10. Uva ursi

uva ursi plantUva Ursi contains allantoin, the active ingredient found in many cold sore creams. It has been widely used in herbal medicine for its wound healing properties, to fight infections, and as an external antiseptic.

Additionally, the herb soothes and repairs tissue while promoting the growth of healthy new cells.

Boil 1 tablespoon of uva ursi leaves in one cup of water for 20 minutes.Drink 1 – 3 cups daily and apply some of the tea to lesions using a cotton ball.

11. Hydrogen peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide can be applied directly to the sore to keep the virus from spreading. Doing this keeps the area clean and prevents infection.

12.  Licorice root extract

Licorice fights the virus and relieves pain. Licorice root contains a substance called Glycyrhizic acid that reduces inflammation.

Mix one tablespoon of the extract with half a tablespoon of purified water or coconut oil and dab it onto the affected area.

13. Coconut oil

coconut oilIt soothes the crusted-over sores and promotes healing. Coconut oil contains lauric acid, a natural anti-viral that converts into monolaurin in the body. Monolaurin is able to break through the cell membrane of the herpes virus.

Additionally, the anti-bacterial properties of coconut oil help prevent infection.

14. Vitamin E

Vitamin E oil calms irritation, reduces pain, and prevents scarring.

Use the oil directly on sores for faster healing and relief.

15. Petroleum

It is often used in homeopathy to heal genital herpes – particularly on the anus and thighs – that have a tendency to be more severe in the winter.

16. Salt (sodium chloride)

saltSalt is a common remedy for cold sores. In homeopathic medicine, salt is used to treat genital and oral lesions that erupt as a result of stress.

This remedy is called “natrum muriaticum” and is most often used in people whose symptoms are worse during the day.

A sitz bath is preferred for genital sores. For oral sores, simply dissolve the salt in warm water and once the liquid is cool enough, rinse the sores with it or use as a compress.

17. Tea

Tea bags applied for 15 – 20 minutes hourly soothe inflammation, reduce redness, and promote healing of the skin.

Some say warm tea bags are most useful and others recommend using the bags as a cold compress, or alternating between warm and cold.

The flavanoid content prevents the growth of the virus, according to University of Wisconsin professor David Rakel. The antioxidants in black tea, called catechins, may also be beneficial to the skin.

18. Milk thistle

milk thistle plantMilk thistle acts as a virucide against the HSV-2 virus due to the active components silybin A and silybin B.

Milk thistle is available in a supplement form for internal use and the dry powder can be applied directly to lesions.

19. Aloe vera

aloe veraIt contains natural anti-bacterial and antibiotic properties to prevent infection and promote wound healing. Using the inner gel of the aloe vera plant topically will provide relief from burning, itching, inflammation, and redness.

Herbs like aloe vera double as antibacterial agents that prevent cold sores from becoming infected with bacteria.

Use aloe vera straight from the plant for best results. Alternatively, you can poke a needle into aloe vera capsules and apply the gel over sores.

20. Honey

honey dropRaw honey works as an excellent topical treatment on wounds. It has antibacterial, anti-viral, and antibiotic properties.

Use pure, raw honey on cold sores to get relief from the pain and inflammation, prevent infection, and heal quickly. You can use bandages to cover the sticky salve and keep it contained while sleeping.

21. Calendula

calendulaThis herb can speed the healing of the ulcers.

Use calendula oil on the sores or make a tea by steeping 1 – 2 teaspoons of dried calendula petals for 10 minutes in 1 cup of boiling water. Use the tea as a compress on cold sores.

22. Lemon balm

lemon balmIt helps reduce symptoms of healing time in both genital and oral herpes. Research published in the Alternative Medicine Review that lemon balm significantly reduced swelling and redness in cold sores after just two days of use. Lemon balm contains eugenol, a numbing agent that can help with pain and the prevention of bacterial infection.

Lemon balm tea can be made by steeping 2 – 4 teaspoons of the leaves in boiling water for 15 minutes.

The liquid can then be dabbed onto sores with a cotton ball. Additionally, use a lemon balm cream on a regular basis to prevent recurring outbreaks.

23. Myrrh

Myrrh is great for its pain relieving and wound healing properties. It relieves pain and swelling of mucosal tissues and increases circulation to the mucosal tissues, promoting faster regeneration and healing. Myrrh’s anti-viral and anti-microbial properties help fight viruses and infection.

In order to soothe a cold sore, make a cold compress using myrrh powder or myrrh oil. Dilute myrrh with water to make the bitter taste more palatable, then use it directly on cold sores.

24. Bayberry

bayberryBayberry is sometimes used as a natural treatment for chronic herpes, but the powdered bark can also bring fast relief when used directly on sores. The astringent properties dry out cold sores.

Mix 1 teaspoon of the powdered bark into a cup of warm water and use the mixture on sores as needed. For internal use, the standard formula is 1 teaspoon of powder added to a glass of water.

25. Witch hazel

witch-hazel plantWitch hazel has shown significant anti-viral activity against HSV-1. Participants in a study applied 2% witch hazel bark extract 6 times daily for 3 – 8 days and experienced significant reduction in size and inflammation.

Simply soak a cotton ball in the liquid, then hold it on cold sores.

How To Prevent Or Lessen Future Outbreaks

The anti-viral properties found in herbs, vitamins, and minerals not only promote healing of an outbreak, but they also play a role in preventative care since they actively fight viruses and make the body less habitable for them to thrive in.

1. Garlic

garlicGarlic fights the herpes simplex virus with its strong anti-viral and antibiotic properties. Just 1 – 2 cloves of garlic a day can prevent infections as well as heal active sores.

Make a garlic paste for external use by blending a clove with some olive oil, then apply to the sores.

2. Echinacea Angustifolia

This herb prevents recurrent HSV-1 cold sores from developing, according to researchers at the Golestan University of Medical Sciences and Health Care.

A dose of 400 milligrams taken 4 times daily was found to prevent cold sore outbreaks, if taken early on. Echinacea also reduced the duration of outbreaks in participants.

echinacea angustifoliaEchinacea enhances immune system function, promotes resistance to viruses, infection, and disease. The extract of echniacea angustifolia also reduces inflammation and helps heal wounds like cold sores. Echinacea has anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-septic, and anti-fungal properties.

Use the root for its potent anti-viral properties and the upper parts of the echinacea plant to enhance immunity.

You can drink echinacea tea, take a supplement form of the herb, or use a tincture for external use on lesions.

3. Magnesium, calcium, and vitamin D

All of these are important in the treatment or management of the herpes virus. The combination of magnesium, calcium, and Vitamin D encourages wound healing, prevents recurrent outbreaks, and protects the nerves.

Magnesium and Vitamin D support your immune system and emotional well-being. Deficiencies in magnesium have even been linked to chronic stress and poor immunity, two primary causes for recurrent cold sore outbreaks, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.

Investigators from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease discovered that magnesium supplements enhance our “anti­viral immune response.”Furthermore, supplementing with magnesium was able to restore the function of immune cells in patients with an immune deficiency disease.

The standard protocol for cold sores is 1,000 – 1,500 milligrams of calcium, 500 – 750 milligrams of magnesium, and 400 IU of Vitamin D. These dosages are maintained over the course of 7 days, then cut back to a daily dose of 100 IU of Vitamin D .

4. Vitamin B

Vitamin B deficiencies are known to contribute to cold sore outbreaks. Since the B vitamins — biotin, folic acid, thiamin, pyridoxine, niacin, pantothenic acid, riboflavin, and cobalamin — play an important role in cell growth and your immune system, it’s vital that you get plenty of each. Make sure your daily supplement contains each of the eight vitamins listed above or supplement with a Vitamin B complex.

5. Vitamin C

This vitamin with bioflavanoids is widely recommended for dealing with cold sores. It boosts your immune system and it has anti-viral properties that help destroy viruses. The bioflavanoids are recommended because they help your body absorb the Vitamin C.

The dose for active herpes outbreaks is 10,000 milligrams of Vitamin C daily, divided up throughout the day until symptoms are gone. For prevention, 500 – 3,000 milligrams.

6. Vitamin A

Vitamin A (as beta carotene) is important for healthy immune system function. The daily recommended dose of Vitamin A is 4,000 IU for women and 6,000 IU for men.

7. Beta-glucans

These substances (found in mushrooms) can be used regularly for their powerful effect on immune function. Beta-glucans are available as a supplement if you aren’t able to get them from food sources.

8. Acidophillus

A probiotic found abundantly in fermented foods like kefir may help reduce outbreaks. Acidophillus and other important probiotics are abundant in fermented foods, but if you can’t get them through your diet, a probiotic supplement can be used.

9. Red marine algae

Red Marine Algae reduces the number of outbreaks in some people. The usual dosage for warding off cold sores is 1,000 milligrams taken 4 times daily.

10. Avocados

Some people say that consuming 2 – 3 avocados weekly keeps their outbreaks away.

Remedies For Preventing Stress Related Outbreaks

Since stress and anxiety are known to contribute to frequent cold sore outbreaks, minimizing your levels can reduce your number of outbreaks.

Adaptogenic herbs have been widely used to promote relaxation, reduce anxiety and stress, and help the body to adapt under stressful conditions.

Additionally, many of these herbs come with added benefits like support for your immune system and relief from fatigue.

Please note that these herbs usually need to be taken regularly for a period of time in order for the active ingredients to get in your system and be effective. If you wait until you’re run down or in the middle of a cold sore outbreak, they may not be effective. Depending on the condition being treated, most herbalists recommend two weeks (or three in some cases) on and two weeks off.

1. Ashwagandha

It is used in Ayurvedic medicine for its anti-inflammatory properties and to combat chronic stress. Research has also found that ashwagandha increases white blood cell count, which aids in healing.

For stress relief and enhanced immunity, a typical dosage is 100 – 200 milligrams of standardized ashwagandha extract twice a day.

Note: Ashwagandha can have a sedative effect.

2. St. John’s wort

St. John's wort plantThis plant is used as a natural remedy for depression, anxiety, and stress, but it also supports the immune system. The anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, and wound repairing activity of this herb makes it useful for both internal and external use.

The standard dose for anxiety is 900 milligrams taken daily for 2 – 3 weeks.

For wounds, a 20% St. John’s wort solution is the standard. The herb is often added to petroleum jelly and applied to the affected area up to 3 times a day for 16 days.

3. Rhodiola rosea

rhodiola roseaIt’s a medicinal herb that is often used to enhance and protect the immune system, fight infection, treat mild depression, and strengthen the nervous system. Rhodiola is said to promote a sense of contentment and mental ease for people taking it.

Some people also note an increase in energy levels when taking adaptogenic herbs like rhodiola rosea. Due to their fatigue-fighting action, they may also be useful in preventing outbreaks that are triggered by fatigue and lack of sleep.

The typical dosage for stress, anxiety, or depression relief is 400 milligrams daily for 4 – 6 weeks.

For best quality, only use rhodiola rosea supplements that have a 3 to 1 ratio of rosavins to salidrosides. If the supplement contains the correct ratio, the label will say so.

4. Maca root

maca rootMaca root is such a rich source of nutrients that it’s considered to be a superfood. Since stress depletes the nutrients in your body, so maca may have multiple benefits for people suffering from the herpes simplex virus.

Maca root’s most common use is to fight stress and depression. It’s also been said that maca root balances hormones in both men and women and alleviates problems associated with PMS and other menstrual conditions. If menstruation or stress tend to be cold sore triggers for you, then you may find maca root powder useful.

Many people report a sense of mental stability and emotional well-being as a benefit of using maca.

The powdered maca root can be taken in capsules or mixed into food and beverages. A typical dosage of maca is 500 milligrams taken twice a day or a teaspoon daily of the powdered root.

Note: if you’re buying maca powder, make sure the label says “gelatinized” instead of raw to avoid possible stomach pain.

5. Kava

kavaKava can help you relax if you’re going through a particularly stressful phase and are concerned about cold sores popping up as a result.

Kava may have a mild sedative effect for some people, therefore it can be used during times of restlessness. If your cold sores are caused by a lack of sleep, kava can be used beforehand to promote better quality rest.

Kava is used in doses from 250 – 500 milligrams daily to fight stress.

6. Meditation

Meditation and other mindfulness-based practices have been shown to have impressive health benefits, including helping control the number of cold sore outbreaks in some people.

Meditating is a completely natural way to reduce stress, so practicing on a regular basis can help decrease your chances of getting outbreaks.

Lastly, lip balms, toothbrushes, razors, eating utensils, and anything else that has come into contact with cold sores or secretions must be discarded to prevent recurrence. Preventative measures include not sharing towels or other personal care items.


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