The war on herpes has raged for centuries. In the first century A.D., Tiberius, Emperor of Rome, actually banned kissing to combat a herpes epidemic. Now, new research is providing successful treatment alternatives.
One such alternative is the amino acid l-lysine. Studies show that it can be effective as a dietary supplement, and when applied topically.
In 1981, Christopher Kagan, M.D. discovered that if he isolated herpes viruses in a petri dish, and added the amino acid arginine, the viruses would multiply. However, when he added another amino acid, lysine, the virus’s ability to multiply was inhibited. According to Kagan, Lysine blocks the bioavailability of arginine, to prevent the virus from replicating.
Lysine Supplements – the herpes preventative
Kagan’s preliminary research was supported by a study published in 1984. According to researchers Thein and Hurt, oral supplementation of l-lysine raised the lysine serum levels in volunteers, and reduced the frequency of cold sore outbreaks. A double-blind placebo study conducted by Dr. Mark McCune confirmed the results.
McCune’s study recommended a dose of 1284 mg of lysine a day, but some experts suggest higher doses. The Canadian government recently approved lysine as a treatment for oral herpes, at a dosage level of 3 grams a day.
Topical Lysine — #1 Treatment option
A study published in Alternative Medicine Review (June, 2005) found that median healing time for cold sores was 4 days, when participants applied Super Lysine+ Cream from Quantum, Inc. This compares to a median healing time of 7-14 days for untreated cold sores, according to Dr. Betsy Singh of SCU.
“Super Lysine + showed remarkable efficacy in shortening the duration of cold sores, compared to untreated cold sores,” said Dr. Singh, co-author of the study.
“Median healing time with Super Lysine+ was quicker than it was using the leading OTC cold sore treatment, in their study, and even quicker than it was with prescription drugs,” said Eve McClure, President of Quantum, Inc.
Super Lysine+ cream combines lysine with 14 other natural, healing ingredients. One of these ingredients is propolis, a sticky resin that seeps from the buds of certain trees. Honey bees gather the resin in their pollen baskets and then use it to narrow the entrances of their hives, keeping intruders at bay.
In a study published in Phytomedicine (2000), bee propolis applied topically to genital herpes sores healed the sores more quickly than either acyclovir (brand name zoviraxtm) or a placebo. On day 10 of the study, 24 of the 30 genital herpes sufferers in the propolis group were completely healed, compared to 14 of 30 in the acyclovir group, and 12 out of 30 in the placebo group.
What is herpes?
Although many think of herpes as a skin infection, it is actually an inflammation of the sensory nerves. In between outbreaks, the herpes DNA survives in nerve centers at the base of the brain called ganglia. During outbreaks, the DNA replicates, forming a virus. The virus passes down the nerve to the skin, where it causes lesions.
HSV-1 (Herpes simplex 1, usually symptomatic as cold sores) and HSV-2 (symptomatic as genital herpes) are transmitted by contact – usually kissing or sexual contact. They tend to occur orally or genitally because our skin provides sufficient protection against transmission except where it is very thin and sensitive – like on the lips or genitals.
Our immune system is able to combat the virus, but the catch is that the virus retreats from our immune defenses and “hides”, lying dormant in the ganglia, nerves at along the spinal cord. Periodically, the virus retraces its way to the lips or genitals, and causes another outbreak.
Treatment and Prevention
Both cold sores and genital herpes have reached epidemic proportions in the U.S. Since the late 1970s, the number of people with genital herpes has increased by 30%.
Currently, OTC product Abreva (for cold sores) sells to the tune of $50 million in the U.S., and Zovirax (a prescription drug for herpes) logged over $60 million in sales last year.
While the drug treatments are expensive, the clinically tested natural treatment is only 1/3 to 1/10th the price, according to Quantum spokesman David Shaw. “Our new study shows that Super Lysine+ works better than the drugs,” said Shaw. “And it’s a money saver, too.”
The centuries-old war on herpes continues. Fortunately, new, natural weapons have entered the fray. Lysine supplements and lysine creams offer inexpensive, natural alternatives to drug treatments. According to the research, they work better, too.