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How to Stop a Cold Sore with an Herb

Applying an ointment containing an extract of lemon balm at the very first tingle may stop a cold sore from developing.

Whether you call them cold sores or fever blisters, these lesions may pop up when you get sick. A respiratory tract infection or exposure to wind or sun may bring them out. No one knows exactly why a cold may triggers them. However, people use quite a few home remedies to stop a cold sore. There is even some science to support certain remedies.

Can You Stop a Cold Sore with Lemon Balm?

Q. I cure my cold sores with lemon balm. This has worked for me for years. It comes as a salve. I apply it once or twice a day as soon as I feel a tingle. Luckily, the cold sore never appears.

What Is Lemon Balm?

A. Lemon balm, or Melissa officinalis, has traditionally been used against cold sores. These are caused by herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1).

Scientists have studied lemon balm extract and found that it helps keep HSV-1 from penetrating cells (Astani, Navid & Schnitzler, Phytotherapy Research, Oct. 2014).  A review of research concluded that Melissa officinalis and certain other botanicals hold promise against HSV-1 (Moradi, Rafieian-Kopaei & Karimi, Avicenna Journal of Phytomedicine, Sep-Oct. 2016). These scientists point out that more studies are needed. Nonetheless, you seem to have found a good remedy for your own use.

Other Home Remedies to Stop a Cold Sore:

Other readers have found that drinking buttermilk at the first sign of a fever blister may keep it from forming. Many are enthusiastic about the supplement l-lysine as a way of preventing cold sores or speeding their healing.

Perhaps one of the most unusual herbal remedies to stop a cold sore is asafetida.  Although most Americans now are unfamiliar with this herb, it was used in the early 20th century as if it were a talisman against colds. Like lemon balm, asafetida does have antiviral activity.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies..
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