There are many viruses we are subject to and none of them are fun. The bad news is some viruses never leave the body. The good news is many of them are treatable and can be controlled through proper diet or with medications. Herpes happens to be one of them. This is a sexually transmitted disease passed from one person to another by close oral or sexual contact. Once the virus is transmitted, a person may not even know they have contracted the virus and some may never show any symptoms. Others who are not so lucky will have painful outbreaks that last from 4 to 14 days after becoming infected.
So if a person has the symptoms what is a common treatment? Doctors can prescribe a variety of medications, including Valtrex or Valacyclovir to help cure the outbreak of herpes. The medication can be topical or oral. However, the effectiveness is usually limited. Some medications only reduce the length of an outbreak by one day, according to The Center for the Biology of Chronic Disease. Although these medications are regularly prescribed, they are known to have many side effects. These side effects can lead to kidney damage, hepatitis or weaken the immune system. Typically, they only cure the visible symptoms but not the invisible symptoms that are the cells, which hold the dormant viruses.
There is a more natural approach to help with treating herpes than with medications, which only really became popular in the 1980’s. That is with a more natural substance such as L-lysine (also sometimes referred to as Lysine). Lysine is one of essential amino acids, which humans and animals need. It is found in the protein of foods such as beans, cheese, yogurt, meat, milk, wheat germ, fish and other animal proteins. The human body requires anywhere between 800 mg and 3,000 mg a day.
However, because the body cannot produce Lysine, it must be ingested by either through diet or supplementation.
Here is how it works without getting too technical. The herpes virus is a strand of DNA surrounded by a protein shell. The shell consists of a protein called Arganine. Lysine and Arganine attract one another so they bind. When they do, they form a new protein that destroys the protective shell leaving the virus exposed to the body’s natural defense mechanisms.
The discovery of Lysine dates back to 1889 when it was discovered by a German dentist. However, it was not introduced into the United States market until 1955 under the name Lysine Hydrochloride. Although there have been many studies on the substance, and the uses continue to grow between seven and ten per cent a year according to Pharmascope.org, the jury is still out on its benefits, specifically in the treatment of herpes. In reviewing the studies beginning in 1978, twenty-three years after its introduction to the United States, there were mixed reviews.
In the first study cited from the Journal Dematologica in 1978, “patients who had frequent recurring herpes infections had fewer recurrences when taking up to 1,200 mg of L-lysine daily.” The article went on to say that in lab experiments it was discovered that L-lysine suppresses viral replication while Arginine enhances it.
Continued research in 1983 cited by the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy stated, “in an experiment with 1,543 subjects, an average daily dose of 936 mg of L-lysine reduced the recurrence and frequency of herpes infections in eighty-four percent of the people by the end of the six month trial.”
However, in an article from the journal Herpes in 2005, it was concluded that there are insufficient data on L-lysine to support claims of efficacy and safety of this supplement. According to research done by the University of Maryland Medical Centre, while it indicates that L-lysine taken on a regular basis helps prevent development of cold sores and genital herpes , they proclaimed more studies are required to establish any real benefits.
If you are not into supplements, the easiest way to get Lysine is through your diet. You need to put together a diet that will have the highest Lysine and the lowest Arginine content. Both of these common amino acids are found in all of the proteins in every food you eat.
The best thing would be to have a nutritionist structure a diet for you but since that is not possible for most of us, there are a few sources where you can get this information. One of the sources is provided by Dr. Dennis Clark who has spent fifteen years focusing on treating herpes with diet and herbs and over 30 years in biological research. Dr. Clark includes a very useful food chart that lists those foods high in Lysine and low in Arginine. At the top of his food chart, you will find foods with the highest Lysine-Arginine ratio. These include cheeses and dairy products while at the bottom of the chart you will see things like nuts and fruit juices. He recommends supplementing your diet by adding at least 1,000 mg a day to help prevent outbreaks of herpes. However, it is recommended to increase dosage to as much as 3,000 mg a day during an outbreak.
For those of you interested in taking supplements, most studies on high doses of L-lysine as a preventative treatment have been inconclusive. While a few studies have found that L-lysine decreases the severity of an outbreak, most studies have been small and poorly designed. A good advice is if you do decide to take L-Lysine supplements, check the dosage as you will need to take an average of 1,000 mg daily to be effective.
So what do we conclude from these studies? It appears from the earliest studies that L-lysine does have a positive effect against herpes with a lot less side effects then using regular medications.