avoiding cashews

Cold sores, also known as fever blisters, are part of the body’s reaction to herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1). Although the vast majority of us have been exposed to HSV-1, not everyone gets blisters on the face as a result. Those who do have to deal with unsightly, painful lesions, sometimes repeatedly. In extreme cases, a person may suffer with sores as often as every month. They are delighted if they find a tactic that works to prevent these outbreaks. One reader discovered that the secret lay in avoiding cashews.

Preventing Recurrent Cold Sores:

Q. Years ago, I was getting cold sore after cold sore after cold sore. Then I read about trigger foods and realized that the cashews I was enjoying were probably a big source of the problem.

I began taking L-lysine daily. I later read that one shouldn’t take it all the time because it might upsets the balance of amino acids. So I now go easy on my trigger foods and just take some L-lysine if I feel a cold sore coming, or if I eat some chocolate or nuts. Along with avoiding cashews, this seems to work for me.

Avoiding Cashews for Cold Sore Prevention:

A. The idea of reducing cold sore susceptibility by limiting arginine intake and increasing lysine goes back to the early 1980s (Griffith, DeLong & Nelson, Chemotherapy, 1981). A small placebo-controlled trial found that L-lysine supplements reduced the number of cold sores and their severity and duration (Griffith et al, Dermatologica, 1987).

Cashews are not technically nuts, but are instead considered seeds. They are, however, rich sources of the amino acid arginine. So avoiding cashews makes sense for you.

L-Lysine as a Home Remedy for Cold Sores:

Some time ago, we wrote about L-lysine as a supplement to prevent the development of cold sores.

Q. You recently mentioned the value of L-lysine for dealing with cold sores. I have struggled with cold sores and fever blisters for over 50 years.

About 20 years ago, I first tried L-lysine. I’ve found that taking 1000 mg twice a day at the first sign of a “tingle” stops the cold sore immediately.

If I miss that signal and a blister forms, taking L-lysine makes the blister disappear within a few days: no scabs, no inflammation. My brother has had similar good results with L-lysine.

A. Like you, many people who suffer from recurrent cold sores report that the amino acid L-lysine can be useful in shortening the attack. Despite such testimonials, however, there is a surprising lack of recent clinical trials supporting the use of L-lysine. Older studies were inconclusive.

A veterinary study in cats found that L-lysine was not effective for preventing feline HSV-1 (Bol & Bunnik, BMC Veterinary Research, Nov. 16, 2015). Of course, cats and people are not the same. Without better research it is hard to say whether this natural product is really better than placebo. On the other hand, L-lysine appears safe.

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  1. Janet
    Elk Grove, CA

    I take 1000 mg of L-Lysine every day and I rarely have an outbreak. I had Bell’s Palsy at 9 months and then my first cold sore outbreak at 22 years of age. My doctor put me on acyclovir which worked but once taken off, the outbreaks returned worse than before.

    I started on L-Lysine and increased to dosage to 1000 mg and took it every day. Taking it everyday worked better than taking it at “first tingle.” The government doesn’t want us to know that L-Lysine works, the government wants us on Big-Pharma medications!

  2. Jerry B
    Conroe, TX

    I have written here several times about L-Lysine, but have never seen it published. There never should be another person suffer with cole sores or fever blisters as we called them. The total cure is to take L-Lysine as soon as the itching or feeling occurs on your lips. I take three 1000 mg. tablets at the outset and then one every hour until the itching or feeling goes away. No blister will ever occur. This message should go out far and wide and stop this malady from ever occurring again.

  3. John

    I read in a 1979 issue of Parade magazine about Lysine and have taken it ever since because it works!

  4. B.

    I’ve found that, to be effective, the L-lysine must be taken on an empty stomach, say a half hour before breakfast.

  5. D
    NW Oregon

    This person’s story is exactly like mine…except my experience is 30+ years:
    About 20 years ago, I first tried L-lysine. I’ve found that taking 1000 mg twice a day at the first sign of a “tingle” stops the cold sore immediately.

    If I miss that signal and a blister forms. Taking L-lysine makes the blister disappear within a few days: no scabs, no inflammation. My brother has had similar good results with L-lysine.

  6. cameron

    I too suffered from oral herpetic lesions and after receiving the shingles vaccine have never had a recurrence. I suggest getting the shingles vaccine and killing two birds with one stone

  7. Kathy

    I have suffered from cold sores since childhood and even have minor scars to show for it. I did eventually discover a way to stop them in their tracks, however. At the first sign (or towing) of a cold sore, just apply an ice cube to the area, held there by a napkin or paper towel. If needed, repeat again.

    • Sandra
      Anchorage, AK

      Kathy in Baltimore is absolutely correct. If you hold an ice cube to your lip at the first tingle, or an ice cube to the cold sore if it has already started, it will STOP the further development of the cold sore. This is because the virus requires warmth to reproduce. If you deny it warmth, it can’t reproduce and will stop developing. I typically hold a cube to my lip for about 15 minutes (you don’t want to give yourself frost bite!) I will do this 2 or 3 times.

  8. Irene

    My comment is about cashews and cold sores. I have a similar reaction to walnuts. If they are cooked its not as bad, but raw ALWAYS causes cold sores. Then I go to Lysine. That is a great fix!! It has saved me from many severe cold sores.

    • Jeanne

      It may help to soak the walnuts for 2 to 4 hours first. You can dry them out again in an oven or dehydrator. Cashews can be soaked for 1 – 2 hours as well, but I do not know if it makes a difference. I think walnuts have been less problematic when I soak them. More nutritious, too.

  9. MB

    I found that what cures my cold sores is lemon balm. It has worked for me for years. I also watched an episode of popular doctor on the subject about 4 years ago where they talked about lemon balm. I order it online. It comes as a salve, and you just apply it once or twice a day. The cold sore never comes out. It’s a wonderful product.

    • Jeanne

      Tea tree oil applied at the start of the cold sore works for me.

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