The Collison Newsletter June 2009


Prevention and Treatment of Cold Sores &Other Conditions*


Lysine is an essential amino acid. This means that it is not synthesised in adequate amounts by the human body, so it has to be obtained from dietary sources, or taken as a supplement. In plants and micro-organisms, it is synthesised from aspartic acid via a number of enzyme steps.

Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. Lysine is a necessary building block for all protein in the body and is important for proper growth. It plays an essential role in the production of carnitine, a nutrient responsible for converting fatty acids into energy and helping to lower cholesterol. It also helps the body to absorb and conserve calcium and plays an important role in the formation of collagen.

Dietary Sources

The human nutritional requirement is 1.0 to 1.5 grams daily.

Vegetarian sources: legumes (beans, peas and lentils) are the best sources of lysine. There is a limited amount in all cereal grains.

Non vegetarian sources: all foods which are rich in protein, including meat (specifically red meat, pork and poultry), cheese (particularly Parmesan), certain fish (such as cod and sardines) and eggs.

It should be noted that lysine is contained within the protein of the foods. Meat contains about 18% protein, whereas, for example, beans and lentils can have up to 25% protein, and soy beans (dry) and soy flour have 35% protein.

Lysine deficiency

A strict vegan diet (mainly macrobiotic diet) may not provide sufficient lysine. It is important for vegans to include significant intake of legumes, as part of a balanced diet.

Lysine deficiency is extremely rare. Deficiency can cause fatigue, nausea, dizziness, anorexia and emotional upsets.

Lysine is involved in the browning reaction (caramelisation) in foods such as pastries, cookies and cereals. In this process, lysine and sugar become linked together in a way that makes lysine difficult for the body to absorb. For this reason, a diet high in cereals and baked goods, especially those that contain a lot of simple sugars, can result in low lysine intake.

Therapeutic Uses of Lysine

Herpes and Shingles.

Lysine can be used to treat mouth lesions (cold sores) and genital lesions caused by the herpes simplex virus (types I and II respectively) as well as shingles or herpes zoster caused by the varicella virus. Taking lysine supplements can speed recovery time and reduce the chance of recurrent outbreaks, especially of cold sores.

Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex type I virus. For most of the time, the virus lives in the skin cells around the mouth and nearby, with no lesion on the skin. The virus lives in harmony with the host cell, and once infected with this virus, the virus lives in the cells for life. Under certain circumstances such as, for example, stress, fever, and sun exposure with sunburn, the virus multiplies and overcomes the cells, killing them with the resultant herpes (little blisters) initially and then the sore or ulceration. The same process occurs with the herpes simplex type II with intermittent genital lesions, and with the varicella virus (which causes chicken pox) which, in later life, can express itself as herpes zoster or shingles. This tends to be more common in older people and is frequently linked to stress or situations that depress the immune system.


Lysine helps improve the absorption of calcium from the digestive tract and prevents loss of calcium in the urine. In view of this, some researchers suggest that lysine may help prevent the bone loss associated with osteoporosis.

The treatment of deficiency of carnitine or to boost levels of carnitine.

Lysine may have some benefit in helping muscle tissue wasting and in the management of fatigue.


Prevention of cold sores: 500 - 1000 mg per day.

Therapeutic doses (to treat the actual cold sore or shingles): up to several grams a day, in divided doses.

Lysine appears to be non toxic and very well tolerated, even in high doses.

Lysine is available in several forms, including tablets and capsules. It is usually sold in the L-lysine form.

*Copyright 2009: The Huntly Centre.

Disclaimer: All material in the website is provided for informational or educational purposes only. Consult a health professional regarding the applicability of any opinions or recommendations expressed herein, with respect to your symptoms or medical condition.


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