Intriguing research suggests that the dementia we call Alzheimer’s disease may be triggered by a common infection: herpes virus. Although the story is not yet complete, the brain’s immune response to the viral intruder may initiate the development of amyloid beta plaques and tau tangles that are so distinctive. Yet there are hints that antiviral drugs might prevent Alzheimer disease. Could a simple supplement, L-lysine, also help?
Could L-Lysine Prevent Alzheimer Disease?
Q. Whenever I feel a cold sore coming on (the telltale “tingly feeling”), I take L-lysine tablets. When I take 1000 mg a day, often the cold sore will never develop. If it got a head start, it disappears several days sooner than it would otherwise.
I read your article about herpes and cold sores being linked to Alzheimer’s disease. Is there anything in L-lysine that could be helpful in preventing dementia? I’m going to start taking it every day, maybe 500 mg a day.
No Good Studies of L-Lysine to Prevent Alzheimer Disease:
A. There are few well-controlled long-term studies of the amino acid L-lysine to prevent or treat cold sores (HSV-1 or herpes labialis). A review in the dermatology journal Cutis (July, 2005) concluded that L-lysine benefits against HSV-1 are unclear. It might help prevent recurrences in selected patients. That said, many readers report success like yours.
There is growing evidence to suggest a link between herpes infection and the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease (Frontiers in Genetics, Sep. 10, 2018). A study from Taiwan found that people taking antiviral medicines for herpes were significantly less likely to develop dementia (Neurotherapeutics, April, 2018).
Whether L-lysine would be beneficial remains to be determined. There is, however, some very technical modeling that suggests key lysine residues may help the brain clear itself of certain toxic metabolites (Interdisciplinary Sciences, Computational Life Sciences, Sep. 7, 2018). We’ll be watching for further research to see whether this translates into an ability for L-lysine supplements to prevent Alzheimer disease.