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Lysine and Herpes

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Using lysine for herpes simplex-1 has been clinically proven to be effective.

Lysine, also known as L-lysine, is an essential amino acid. The human body requires L-lysine for health, but it is an amino acid that has to come from either the diet or supplements.

According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, lysine helps the body produce carnitine, which breaks down essential fatty acids. Lysine also helps absorb calcium, provides tissue-building collagen, and lowers cholesterol.

A rather unique property of L-lysine is its ability to help prevent outbreaks of oral herpes simplex, also known as HSV-1.

Oral herpes simplex- 1 virus symptoms

Oral herpes, also called the herpes simplex-1 virus, is caused when someone who has the virus shares personal items such as towels, toothbrushes, drinking straws, or eating utensils with others. The virus is also spread through kissing, or other saliva to saliva contact.

Herpes simplex-1 is different from what are commonly called fever blisters or canker sores. Herpes can occur around or on the lips, and inside the mouth.

Web MD states that the virus starts with a fever and flu-like symptoms. Red and white blisters appear, then form a yellowish crusty scab over the sores as they begin to heal.

Emotional and physical stress seems to trigger new outbreaks of herpes simplex- 1 virus.

Oral herpes is very common in children and young adults. The virus never leaves the body, but over time, outbreaks decrease and finally stop.

L-lysine and the oral herpes simplex-1 virus

Lysine has been clinically proven to help prevent outbreaks of HSV-1. Lysine is virucidal, meaning it kills viruses.

The medical journal Acta Dermato Venereologica published a human clinical trial performed in 1980 to determine the effect of L-lysine monohydrochloride on herpes simplex labialis, the HSV-1 virus.

Patients infected with the virus took 1000mg lysine daily for twelve weeks, then switched to a placebo for twelve weeks.

In this study, lysine had no effect on the rate of recurrence of the sores after twelve weeks. However, the scientists discovered that significantly fewer participants experienced an outbreak while taking lysine as opposed to taking the placebo.

In a later clinical study performed at the Indiana University School of Medicine, lysine in the form of L-lysine monohydrochloride tablets were once again given to patients with herpes simplex virus.

This time, herpes patients were given three times the lysine as was given in the previous study. In addition, the study lasted for six months, as opposed to the twelve weeks in the earlier trial.

Patients either took 1000mg L-lysine tablets or a placebo three times a day for six months.

The results showed that the L-lysine group had 2.4 times fewer outbreaks, their symptoms were milder, and their healing time was shorter than the control group.

L-lysine in combination with zinc and botanicals for HSV-1

Knowing the effectiveness of L-lysine for the herpes simplex-1 virus, scientists in 2005 decided to try a topical cream containing L-lysine, zinc, and other botanicals (herbs).

Thirty herpes patients were admitted into the study. Symptoms were measured, before and after photos were taken, and each patient kept a daily journal to describe the experience.

At the end of the study, forty percent of the participants experienced complete healing of all herpes symptoms by the third day of applying the topical ointment. By the seventh day of usage, eighty-six percent of the study participants had experienced full resolution.

By the end of one week, every herpes patient except two was significantly, if not completely, better. In addition, the patients did not experience any adverse effects from using the L-lysine ointment.

Foods rich in L-lysine

Meat eaters should have little difficulty getting enough L-lysine in their diets. The University of Maryland Medical Center suggests the following animal sources of lysine:

Animal Products Containing Lysine
Lean, grass-fed beef
Lean cuts of pork
Chicken and turkey
Parmesan cheese
Dairy products
Cod and other cold water fish

Vegans sometimes have a more difficult time consuming enough lysine on a daily basis. This is easily corrected by making sure these plant foods are consumed regularly:

Plant Sources of Lysine
Raw nuts
Nutritional yeast
Fenugreek seeds

L-lysine in supplement form

Doctors often recommend between 3,000mg and 9,000mg L-lysine per day, divided into three doses, during active outbreaks of oral herpes. To help prevent new outbreaks and to lengthen the time between herpes outbreaks, 1000mg lysine per day is often recommended.

The Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology does raise some concern about taking L-lysine in supplement form, as noted above, on a long term basis.

A case study involving one woman who took 3000mg L-lysine every day for five years developed a kidney malfunction known as Fanconi syndrome.

Fanconi syndrome can lead to acidosis, a condition where there is too much acid in the blood. This makes the kidneys have to work harder. Fanconi syndrome also causes an electrolyte imbalance and dehydration.

Chronic renal failure, commonly referred to as kidney failure, may possibly follow.


University of Maryland Medical Center.edu, “Lysine”

Web MD.com, “Oral Herpes”

Pubmed.gov, “Lysine prophylaxis in recurrent herpes simplex labialis: a double-blind, controlled crossover study,” N. Milman, et al. Acta Dermato Venerologica. 1980:60(1):85-7.

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