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Desperate for Help With Recurrent Cold Sores

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Q. I have always suffered from terrible cold sores as far back as I can remember. I am especially vulnerable in the summer when I spend a lot of time outdoors. Even with lip balm that has a sunblock I am frequently in pain.

These sores are incredibly ugly and people always stare. That makes me even more self-conscious about them. What can you recommend to prevent cold sores or speed healing once they occur? I have heard that lysine might be good but I know nothing about this stuff. What is it and how well does it work?

A. Cold sores, also called fever blisters, can be painful and look yucky. Some people have outbreaks once or twice a year. Others seem to have recurrent lesions every few weeks. Once our bodies are infected with this herpes virus it remains forever. Why some people are more vulnerable to attacks than others remains mysterious. Clearly our immune systems play an important role in this process. Sun exposure can bring on an outbreak. So can a trip to the dentist (presumably because of mild trauma associated with such procedures).

Although we are enthusiastic about lysine (more about this supplement in a minute) we would be remiss if we did not mention that there are effective anti-viral agents for type 1 (HSV-1) herpes infections that cause cold sores. Zovirax (acyclovir) and Denavir (penciclovir) are available in cream form. Your doctor could alsp prescribe oral anti-virals as Famvir (famciclovir), Valtrex (valacyclovir), and Zovirax.

If you prefer a more natural and affordable approach, you may want to seriously consider lysine. The arginine/lysine theory of cold sore management remains somewhat controversial within the medical community. It goes something like this. The amino acid arginine is essential for herpes viruses to replicate and multiply. Arginine is high in nuts (such as almonds, Brazil nuts, peanuts, walnuts, etc), pumpkin and squash seeds, sesame seeds, red meat and some cereals (oatmeal for example). People are advised to cut back on high arginine-containing foods and add lysine supplements to their regimen (1000 to 1500 mg total daily dose). Lysine is supposed to make it harder for the herpes virus to replicate.

We were somewhat skeptical of this approach as there were been both negative as well as positive studies with lysine. Most of the research was with small numbers of patients and seemed inconclusive to us. Nevertheless, some of the double-blind, placebo-controlled trials lasted from 12 to 52 weeks and reported significant reductions in cold sore outbreaks among the lysine groups.

What has convinced us that something positive was happening with lysine has been the outpouring of letters from dental professionals and our readers. We have received so many anecdotal reports of success that we are convinced something is going on here We share just some of the lysine success stories with you:

One oral surgeon wrote to say his patients do well on a preventive regimen of one 500 mg tablet of l-lysine daily. If they develop a sore, increasing to four tablets a day seems to help it heal faster. A reader said, "I suffered from cold sores since I was a little boy and my doctor prescribed acyclovir, which wasn't any help. My pharmacist suggested lysine, and I have been taking 500 mg of this amino acid for two years now. I am free of fever blisters and that's a great relief."

Q. When you wrote recently about home remedies for cold sores, why in heavens name didn't you tell peple about l-lysine?

For 50 years I would develop fever blisters every time I went out in the sun. About 4 years ago a pharmacist told me about l-lysine. Since then I have taken it for a week before I know I'll be exposed to sunshine. I have not had a cold sore since.

A. We were flooded with letters like yours praising the power of l-lysine. One young woman writes, "my boyfriend got these sores constantly, and as a last resort we went to the health food store to see if there was anything that could help. He was told to take lysine and the sores have never returned."

Another reader reports suffering from nasty fever blisters that lasted 3 or 4 weeks. She was told by a friend to take lysine, and when she was skeptical the friend said, "then live with them if you're stubborn."

She now takes l-lysine whenever she feels a cold sore coming on or if she is in the sun more than usual. She says, "it quickly nips them in the bud. Doctors and druggists don't seem to believe this, but I know it works."

Judging from our mail bag, l-lysine does help many people. Though it may not work for everyone, this amino acid may be worth a try.

We would love to hear your story (positive or negative). Share your experience with l-lysine below in the comment section.

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I have had a lot of success when I feel that *pulsing* feeling you get before a cold sore using a pea-sized amount of alcohol (like in hand sanitizer) to dry the area and then a really covering lip balm like Carmex or Lansinoh (it's a breast cream but I SWEAR by it- that's all I use for chapstick now). I haven't had a cold sore in almost 5 years. It's really easy to keep those pocket sized hand sanitizers anywhere/everywhere!

Good Luck :)

licorice root liquid works for me.

I live and play on a farm and enjoy water sports all summer. The last 5 years or so I have been plagued with fever blisters from June - August. I would take a lot of Lysine supplements without significant relief. Finally, my chiropractor/kinesiologist recommended taking a monolaurin supplement. WOW! It is like a miracle for me! It is now the end of July and I am blister free for the entire summer! I've read that it actually
messes with the cell wall of the virus. I take 1200 mg/day. I'm actually able to enjoy spicy foods this summer.

B-6 & B-12 May be another tool along with folic acid.

After taking Metro-Gel for a year, I got a terrible cold sore on my upper lip that I hit in a fall. After that, I kept getting cold sores in that same place, until my primary Dr. said to take L-Lisine. It says take on empty stomach and being old, it sticks in my throat with just water. I hit my lip accidentally recently and developed a tiny cold sore- same place. But it wasn't as big, didn't hurt, and slowly going away. Don't know why hitting that upper lip, brings out a sore. Little sun exposure, but I'm taking the 500 L-Lisine with a tiny bit of cookie.

At the first sign of a cold sore, my husband uses Lysine and it's usually gone in a day or less.

I have been taking Lysine, 500 mg daily for the past 12 years and have had NO herpes outbreaks in that period of time. Prior to that time I was besieged with outbreaks on a regular basis. I am convinced that lysine is the effective prevention for me. dey

L-Lysine works. There is no need for anyone to ever have a fever blister. I cannot believe the medical community does not share this with the world. It is a terrible injustice for doctors not to know or share this. I had fever blisters all my life until someone told me about L-Lysine. I have had none since. I am 69 years old and haven't had a fever blister in forty years. Here is the regimen: at first feeling of itching, take three 1200 mg. tablets of L-Lysine, then one every hour until itching goes away. It may take all day, but you will never develop a blister and it will be gone.

I had frequent cold sores as a teenager. It took me years before I made the connection between the cause of the problem and the solution. The problem was, of course, the sun. The solution was simple. I figured that if heat was the problem then applying cold might work. I discovered that if I use an ice pack on my lip as soon as I start to feel that first tingling, the tingling and the impending sore simply disappear. Simple, cheap and very effective. I've not had a cold sore in 60 years.

I take 500 mgs of lysine every day and have for years. I used to get cold sores constantly, and now get them very infrequently. Years ago I found a jar of lysine ointment at a now defunct drug store chain and I'm still using it whenever I get that tingling that indicates one is on the way. Often they will never fully appear. I recommend lysine most highly! I have lupus, so I am extremely sun sensitive and this has truly helped.

Many years ago, I had a recurring cold sores during a stressful time of my life. I asked for a prescription for acyclovir cream. I used this every time a new fever blister popped up, and the duration and severity decreased almost immediately. After a few months, I had no outbreaks, and remained free of that curse for several years.

Have you researched using the (over the counter) acid reducer Cimetidine? I use it when I feel an outbreak coming on and it seems very effective in putting the virus 'back to sleep'.

Around age 7 my daughter was getting cold sores one after another. I think is was in Prevention magazine I read about Lysine, which immediately stopped the outbreaks. From then on she only took Lysine if she felt a rare outbreak coming on. She's now in her 40's and I can't remember the last time she mentioned an outbreak.

My husband got frequent cold sores but was much harder to convince. His father was a doctor so he's of the opinion that doctors have all the answers. Eventually I convinced him to try Lysine. It worked extremely well and he rarely has an outbreak, which he nips in the bud with Lysine for a few days.

When my daughter was in her teens, she develop a couple of fever blisters. We started on Lysine pills and Lysine lip balm. By the end of the day, she had 30 blisters in and around her mouth and was very miserable. Her doctor put her Valtrex. We continued the lysine pills and lip balm. She healed very well. We think the Lysine helped because she never had a severe recurrence and now once in a while will get a cold sore and they are not as horrible as that first episode.

My sister used to kiss her pony. On one occasion, she had cold sores all over her mouth, so I guess animals may carry the virus? I don't remember what treatment she had though.

Years ago I had cold sore and canker sore problems and read in Adelle Davis that L-Lysine could help. I started taking that and they disappeared. I continued to take it for a couple years as part of my supplement plan and they never returned.

Periodically, if it feels like one may be developing, I pop a couple for two or three days, the symptoms go away. A friend of mine said she had been having cold sore problems for years. When I advised her of my success, she began taking Lysine too and has had no re-occurrences. I'm a solid believer.

I first began getting fever blisters as a child after I came down with what my doctor called "trench mouth." I don't know if this was an accurate diagnosis or how I could have acquired it, but I had blisters inside my mouth and on my lips. It was horrible.

I have had cold sores periodically ever since, but they have come less and less frequently over the years and now are generally single lesions on one lip. Applying ice as soon as the tell-tale tingling begins along with using Carmex through the course of the infection has reliably minimized their severity, reduced their size, and shortened the duration.

If I know I'm going to be out in the sun for any length time, I make sure I apply Carmex as a preventative. Give it a try. It's inexpensive and doesn't involve continuing to take a drug or supplement.

My husband has had problems with cold sores for years. When he first starts to feel the tingling on his lip he knows one is coming and he starts taking Acidophilus pills (found in any health food store), the stronger the better. If he starts soon enough he can stop them from becoming full bloom. If not he takes the pills and the duration is much shorter. Stress seems to cause his.

Lysine really works. Many herpes (genital) plagued pts are told to use Lysine daily.
I use it if I feel a cold sore sprouting and also put baking soda and milk of magnesia on the site.

My sister in Germany gave me a cream called LABIOSAN which has phenol in
it. Works like magic, however the "new version" no longer has phenol. Bought a lip sore product at the Dollar Tree or Deals and it had Phenol in it.
I also make sure to stay away from nuts and from now on also oatmeal.
Thanks for the oatmeal tip.

FOR CANKER SORES, KIWI GIVES ALMOST IMMEDIATE RELIEF AND PROMPT HEALING, AMAZING FRUIT.
Thanks to People's Pharm.!!!!!

It's amazing how most doctors simply WILL NOT tell you anything about a natural product or nutritional remedy. They haven't studied natural remedies and so are terrified to put their name on any advice in that arena. Also, they resist recommending any intervention that hasn't been "proven" scientifically in research studies... but then again, NOBODY will pay to study something that's already inexpensive and easily available. Why would they, when there's no big payoff in it?

In the last few years I've discovered: bed soap for leg cramps, sour cherry juice for heel pain, certo/grape juice and gin n' raisins for aches and pains, and magnesium for irregular heart rhythm. I had 'em all, applied the remedies, and now ALL these problems are in the past! Thank God for the web, and for excellent resources like Peoples Pharmacy.

My daughter, 27, has had the worst case of cold sores since she was one years old. She has tried everything: Lysine, Acyclovir (pills and cream), Abreva cream, lip balms, sun screens, everything. Stress, sun, her period, lack of sleep, spicy food, all cause terrible breakouts. Her doctor was not thrilled to have her take an antiviral daily but that is what she is doing along with the Lysine and Abreva. It keeps them mostly at bay, but not completely. I will pass on the ice therapy and avoiding the nuts and oatmeal. That is new info. I just don't know why they have not developed a vaccine for herpes, it is a real scourge.

I get big cold sores/fever blisters when I eat grapefruit or too many oranges or pineapple. But I love them so I eat them anyway, and wash my face and lips thoroughly with soap and rinse my mouth thoroughly whenever I over eat them. And I drink a glass of milk whenever possible after I eat them. And pretty much it works.

I've been using L-Lysine (off-and-on) for 25+ yrs now, but hadn't used it for a while. I got severe shingles attack in my left ear (!!!!) and as part of my treatment I re-started the lysine. Don't know how effective it was, but along with all the other anti-viral stuff, I took 3gms/day. The shingles is gone, but the lysine carries on.

For difficult to swallow pills (some are big enough for a horse) try a spoonful of yogurt. Pills slide down very easily.

Hello! I've had cold sores since I was 20. Had about 2-3 a year, some bad, some not. I've done every remedy in the book. Toothpaste (the white kind) which does dry it up a bit and make for quicker healing. As well as milk, oil of oregano, rubbing alcohol, etc, etc... All these things help the healing process along with my prescription of Famvir. Nothing prevents them for me even if I catch it at the tingling stage. The only thing that will stop it is the Famvir. But it's very expensive and many many visits to the doctor to constantly have it on hand which is impossible. The last 7 months, I've had cold sores every 7-10 days. In total, I've had 17-20 bad sores. They are on my face (mouth area) and my lip. It's been terrible.

No one seems to help when it comes to my doctors. The lysine doesn't help me. I have an appointment with an infectious disease doc in 2 weeks. I'm sure I'll have 3 outbreaks between now and then. I do my best to keep my stress level down with meditation but its impossible to constantly be stress free. I avoid the sun, wind, beer, nuts, red meat, spicy food, acid foods, everything! I'm just at a loss as to why for 12 years I only had 2-3 a year to know 20 in the past 7 months constantly. I feel so terrible and it's starting to ruin my social life, career and my self esteem. Has anyone experienced the same thing as me and had a solution. :(

My child has had outbreaks continuously for 3 years straight. Pretty much weekly. Once one is gone another starts. Lately it is in just one spot. He was kissed by an adult with a sore when he was three and boy have we had a rough road! The initial outbreak in a small child will be quite severe, sores in and out of the mouth, etc Some will have recurrences, some will not. My poor child has definitely had recurrences!

He has developed a real complex about it and does not like to go to school when he has one. And he's only 6!! We have tried absolutely everything - homeopathy, herbs, acyclovir, lysine, garlic, lemon balm tea, tea tree oil.... Acyclovir is available in a suspension form so he went on a 2-month suppression rx last year. I want to say that worked but it is so tough to isolate what works as they always come back!

He woke up this morning and had one - I didn't give him his lysine yesterday, could it be that?? It's just one of those immeasurable things - I used to get them here and there but haven't had one in 8 years. I do believe garlic kills the virus in the cells as I have seen a sore turn brown after applying a drop of garlic oil with a qtip. I've read that plus Manuka honey is a good way to go.

I will continue to try everything possible to keep him comfortable and sore free and can only hope he will eventually grow out of it or at least be able to tell me when one is coming!!

I would be very interested to hear if the results of your infectious diseases tests. I too have had only one or two cold sore outbreaks a year on my lip until last September (2012). Since then I've had nine. One appears, I treat it with Zovirax which takes about four or five days to get rid of it. Two days later I'll get another one. I had five in this 'group' way September. After a couple of weeks the same thing happened again. This seems to be a pattern. Even though there is nothing obvious to me in the way of illness, I don't feel that my body is operating at optimum health. I'm hitting the cold sore with everything now. Many thanks this site for the info on lysine. I am also using tea tree oil and rose hip oil which will help heal the cold sore site faster once it is destroyed.

I woke up yesterday morning to find the 6th cold sore of this season blooming on my upper lip. Most years, I have one or two, some years none, so this year is very frustrating to say the least. I keep Zovirax cream in the house for just this purpose but it doesn't seem to do much. Since the frequency of outbreaks hasn't been much, I have not found it necessary to take Lysene on a regular basis. I began searching the web as soon as I got out of bed and I came across this forum.
I had no Lysene in the house, but I immediately put an ice pack on my lip. Within 2 hours, the soft, yellowish blister-like Mound that was bound to bloom into a cauliflower had shrunk to the size of a small whitehead. On my way to work I bought the Lysene and took 1000mg. I kept the ice pack on and off throughout the day and this morning it's all but gone.

I don't typically join posts but I had to thank all of you for your great info. At least I hope I've found a way to stop them in their tracks if I can't prevent them in the first place! I will come back in a few days to let you know if it rebloomed or stayed gone.

Hello again...it's been 4 days since my last post, and 5 days since my cold sore breakout and I'm thrilled to report that the ice pack treatment is nothing short of miraculous, thank you Shelley!!! As soon as I applied the ice pack, the tingling stopped. The cold sore has not reappeared. I only took the Lysene for 2 days, 1000 mg each time. This should be studied by the medical establishment. I wonder if it would help shingles? I also wonder if children who receive the chicken pox vaccine will never have this problem. Thanks again to everyone for the helpful info. I put the Zovirax in the trash!

I have suffered from cold sore since I was a child. In most of my adult life, I would maybe get 1-2 a year and I thought it was getting less and less. Then in the last 12 months, I have been getting them nearly every 3-6 weeks suddenly and much more severe. They used to always be in 1 place but not anymore, they seem to be appearing all over my bottom lip and even chin and I am getting multiple sores now, not just 1 like before.

I have no idea what is going on, the doctors can't help. I have tried lysine, creams, ice, toothpaste, melissa balm, essential oils, light therapy, antiviral tablets, zinc, vitamin D etctec. What works for other people just doesn't seem to work with the severe strain I seem to have.

I have suffered with cold sores, canker sores & fever blisters for over 40 years. About 9 months ago I read on Peoples Pharmacy that Folic Acid was helpful for canker sores & I began taking 400 mcg daily. It greatly reduced the number of canker sores I got & it has also helped in reducing the number of cold sores as well. Might be worth a try.

Thank you everybody on here for your helpful suggestions. I have been getting cold sores on and off since about the age of five. I am now into menopause and that seems to have made them come back with a vengeance! I do appreciate being told to keep away from nuts and oatmeal, etc. And will definitely be using the ice pack thing. I find that taking Lysine everyday keeps them at bay (I run out and forgot to replace so have just recently suffered one again). I use Zovirax which seems to lessen them also. All the best to fellow sufferers, I wish 'they' would find a cure.

I have had fever blisters all my life- the secret I have found that finally works for me is bitter melon in capsule form. It's worth trying- but you have to take more than it says to take- I would try taking several throughout the day every couple of hours the day you get it. This works for me.... used to just get bigger and bigger even with lysine- now it doesn't even fully form if I hit it right away with bitter melon and intermittently throughout the day. Hope this helps someone:)

Hi, I've been getting cold sores all of my life. This may sound a bit odd, but I put plain white toothpaste on them at night to dry them out. Then during the day... As soon as I get a tingle I put and hold rubbing alcohol swabs on it. It dries it right up and my blisters no longer spread. It does dry out my lips of purse but I'd rather have chapped lips than a cold sore any day.

I've found that although all my doctors said to keep the area moist, my blisters would continue to spread for weeks! And I've tried the lysene and it just didn't work. Now from the time I get the first tingle to the time it dries out and stops spreading is only a day or two and they don't get nearly as large as they use too. So like I said, I put alcohol swabs on the area as soon as I feel one coming, and then at night I put white plain toothpaste on the area. I know it's really weird but I swear by it!!!

I have also used lysene to no avail! I have found the only thing that works is geranium oil placed on the skin as soon as I feel a tingle. If you catch it in time in works.

I replied to this a long time ago. But, perhaps, it is, seemingly, to gross for most people. Many years ago, an old farmer told me that is you dab a bit of your own urine on the cold sore, it will be gone in 24 hours! It has always worked for me, & for a few others who have tried it.

Be careful with the Lysine. I had been taking them for about 6 months and my back started hurting. I thought I had hurt it somehow. I have pulled it our before. I hurt so bad I could not get out of bed for a week. Finally, after starting to get a fever...I knew back aches did not cause fevers...

I went to the Dr. Turns out my kidneys were about to shut down. I had to take 2 rounds of antibiotics and it still took several weeks to get over it. I, not realizing it was the Lysine causing this, continued to take it. A month later I was back at the Dr. with the same problem. I knew it had to be something I was taking and the only thing different was the Lysine. I stopped it immediately and haven't had any more problems with my kidneys. It's been over 2 years! Just be careful. A fever blister is better than kidney damage.

Ok, I've been getting coldsores for about 20 years, and like all of you I HATE THEM! I've tried alcohol, abreva, silver, camphor, and even zapping it with a 9-v battery! Nothing seemed to help once I had one and would have a hideous scabby, oozy, swelled up lip for about a week... I have had some relief with Lysine, if I catch it fast enough! But now when one sneaks up on me (sometimes I wake up to one) I apply frankincense essential oil several times a day and it heals it so quickly! I don't have any oozing or scabbing, or swelling. It seems to dry it up. Within a few days it's gone! Thank goodness! Hope this helps....(I also continue to take Lysine along with it, but I have noticed a remarkable improvement with the Frankincense)

Sauerkraut and the juice can help.

As I have put in here before: When I was young, an old farmer, believe he was part American Indian, told me to put a dab of my own urine on it! Works 100% every time!

The cure with urine is a very old remedy used in the orient China, India etc… used for many skin problems like eczemas, ..toenail & athlete's foot etc.

Wow, interesting forum. I haven't read an experience quite like mine though - I had the herpes first when I was 6 months - throughout my mouth and down my throat - nasty. I'm from Swedish stock and all the Swedes in my family get'em. I always got them every so often on my lips only when I was stressed or sick. I met my husband during veterinary school and I believe he carries a wicked strain of which he is asymptomatic.

Ever since the first kiss I started with an evil bloom on my bottom lip and now will get them not only on my lips but now sores IN my mouth - on the roof, on my gums, inside of lips even UP MY NOSE! GAHH! Lysine doesn't work, Valtrex did for awhile but now doesn't work anymore. I think now I have to change my diet to shortcut arginine - don't know what else to do.

My husband makes fun of me when I have food on my lips. Well, I think so many cold sores for so many years has led to friggin nerve damage. I have to be really careful with my kids. I think this virus wants them too, argh.

TO LEW I think you should check out if you are lacking some lack of a mineral, vitamin or enzyme or … something your body is not assimilating well. When this happens in a family is because genetics and something is missing. Try to boost your immune system with superfoods. Also, it is possible you are allergic to something/or food. I get blisters in my mouth and lips when I eat fresh pineapple (which I love).

ah, I forgot to mention, stop eating gluten - flour - for a few weeks, and then do the same with milk products for a few weeks and see if that helps. Some people are sensitive to gluten and/or lactose /casein etc… and have different reactions.

I have suffered with cold sores all my life and have found that the only thing that helps is tea tree oil and aciclovir 400mg tablets which can also be used as a preventor. The pills are given to people whose immune system is weakened by having chemo or radiation therapy and people who suffer bad breakouts frequently.

I also find if I take care of my lips during winter and summer with Blistex that I'm far less likely to have an outbreak. If you have a bad breakout I found that the treatments via your gp for impetigo (which is bacterial) also work.

I take 3,000 mg of lysine every day and still get them.
Doesn't work for everyone unfortunately.

2 years ago I started putting extra virgin cold pressed coconut oil on and all around the area when I feel the tingle, it prevented the cold sore. If I miss the tingle and end up with the Beginnings of a cold sore I put some on and it heals very fast.

Did you get any help? As I seem to get one after another and nothing helps it. My self esteem is shot. :(

My dentist told me many years ago to use Lysine as soon my lip starts to sting. I take three Lysine immediately and the sore will not go on and develop. The second and third days, I take three more. No blisters for me.

I too am a firm believer in L-Lysine, at the very first tingle I will take anywhere from 2-5 1000mg pills, if I know I will have lots of sun exposure, or that I am stressed out, or run down, I will take a couple in the morning and a couple before sleep; preemptively. I keep lysine in my glove box, in my day bag, golf bag, gym bag, and at home. I literally will not go anywhere without it, so that I can take it immediately if i feel a cold sore coming on, or if I am consciously stressed, tired, sick, etc. I also have learned to avoid caffeine, chocolate, most nuts, and other foods that are rich in L-Arginine. There are tons of articles explaining how food and diet can assist in preventing and limiting the extent of breakouts. With this current approach, I usually do not get any sores that are visible, and am able to keep them in check..

Thanks for sharing all the tips everyone. I've been getting coldsores since I was kid and as I get older they get worse. The past few months I've had one every few weeks. I'm going to get some Lysine asap and take it daily. Have the icepack on now.

Aside from prevention methods such as avoiding stress and fatigue, as well as exercising and eating appropriately (getting all your vitamins, proteins, upping lysine intake and avoiding arginine-rich foods), there is a winning formula of 4 treatments that will fight any outbreak (provided you catch it in time). When you feel the dreaded tingle:

-Take 3 L-Lysine supplement pills daily (can be found at any GNC)
-Take 2 Valacyclovir pills every 12 hours for 2 days (need a prescription from your Dr.)
-Put Zovirax cream on the sore every 3 hours
-Put Abreva cream at the same time as Zovirax (mix both together and apply generously)

Until they find a cure, this is your best bet. Has been working for me for 8 years (since I started it).

Good luck!

I just purchased some 1000mg L Lysine. Does it really work?

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