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L-Lysine Against Shingles and Cold Sores

Q. In a recent column you answered a question about L-lysine and shingles. I have been taking L-lysine for various forms of herpes for over 20 years, and it has kept me virtually outbreak-free.

It is also important to avoid nuts and chocolate. Dietary restraint together with L-lysine have worked better for me than acyclovir, which I took for a year as part of a study at the University of Rochester.

I have read about both nut avoidance and L-lysine, but often when I speak to physicians about it they are not aware of it. A lot of pain and discomfort could be avoided if they were.

A. We heard from several other readers who use L-lysine supplements to ward off cold sores or shingles.

One said:

“I have been taking L-lysine along with high potency B complex since 1986 when an osteopathic physician recommended it after I was treated with Zovirax. I have continued to take it and have never had shingles again. When I Googled L-Lysine, I found that it is used for shingles.”

We too Googled L-lysine and found that the University of Maryland Medical Center web site states:

“L-lysine can be used to treat mouth and genital lesions caused by herpes simplex virus as well as shingles caused by herpes zoster viruses.”

We did not find placebo-controlled clinical trials that demonstrate this effect, but L-lysine is not toxic or expensive.

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.”.
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