If you have ever had a cold sore or fever blister you know all too well the pain, agony and embarrassment that they come with. When you feel that little itchy tingle, you know it’s already too late. You’re getting a cold sore and that’s that…right? I’ve been plagued with these nasty little beasts since I was in the seventh grade. I literally remember my very first one. It was sooooo painful and when you’re in that awkward stage of puberty, all you need is one more thing to make you feel like the weird girl. Since that awful first battle with cold sores I have tried every single remedy you can think of. Some of them were so horrible and painful I won’t even share for fear you might try it. By the way, none of them really worked. When I was in my early twenties and very stressed working two jobs as a school teacher and tanning salon manager by night (I know, don’t judge…naturally derived spray tans all the way now.) I think the lack of sleep, bad diet and stress kept me in a vicious cycle of herpes attacks.
Yep, I said it…Herpes! The herpes zoster virus is the nasty little shit that gives me these miserable sores. Mine are always on my lips…which if you know me at all is the most used part of my body. I talk, laugh and smile constantly so healing these blisters is a long and painful agony. I’ve heard of people getting herpes sores other places on their faces, hips and even the back. I guess it just picks a weak spot in the body and goes on attack. Now don’t panic, this form of herpes isn’t sexually transmitted and it’s not the same as genital herpes. You can however transfer it to your lady bits during the active blister part of an outbreak by skin to skin contact….so use your imagination here and don’t do that!
You know I’m all about some natural remedies but even I tried two prescription drugs…one was a cream that was topically applied to the blister. Worked ok for pain and helped shorten the misery a little bit. The second was a strong antibiotic used to treat herpes of all kinds, including shingles. These pills were a godsend for me for about two years…and then, you guessed it…my body built up a resistance to the drug and not only did it not work but for a couple rounds of outbreaks I had the worst cold sores I’ve ever experienced in my life to date. I’m talking top and bottom lip covered and even up into my nostrils one time. All I could do is suffer through it and wait for it to heal. It was around this same time that I was also battling severe and frequent migraines and sought out the help of an acupuncturist. This treatment helped my migraines nearly right away and I’ve only had two in the last twenty years. So how bout the cold sores? Not so much. My acupuncturist suggested I start trying to detox my diet and reduce my stress levels. She also suggested adaptogenic herbs and immune supporting herbs. Smart huh? Yeah, except I didn’t at the time have a clue what she was taking about and I couldn’t afford the supplements she sold.
And so here began my search for something to help me prevent and quick treat these outbreaks naturally and effectively. Through much trial and error I came up with what I thought was the greatest recipe of all time. The holy grail. I swore by it because it worked. Sometimes I could start it immediately at that first tingle and I wouldn’t even get an actual blister. If I did get one, the pain and duration was so much reduced. I am so happy to share my recipe with you here in this article. I must say though, my idea wasn’t as original as I thought. About five years ago I was looking through one of my herb books for something and flipped past a very similar recipe. I would have been really deflated if not for the fact that the book was Rosemary Gladstar’s book Recipes for Vibrant Health. Let me just stop right here and say that if you are interested in natural wellness…Rosemary Gladstar is like my Dolly Parton of the herb world (yes, I’m a total Dolly freak!). She is a goddess! Get this book and for that matter anything you can get your hands on that she has touched.
Alright, I’m a little off track but basically I thought to myself…if Queen Rosemary and I had a similar idea then I’m feeling pretty dang smart right now. My formula is a little different and this is what works for me time and time again. I hope you find this helpful but as always, do your own research and create the best recipe for you.
My attack plan begins with an essential oil blend of geranium(5), lemon balm(15), chamomile german(5), oregano(5), tea tree(5) and lavender(5) in a base of fractionated coconut oil or sweet almond oil. The numbers in parentheses are drops and you add to a 10ml roller bottle and fill with carrier oil. I keep this in my presence at all times. It’s normally in my purse. These oils are anti-viral and anti-inflammatory as well as skin soothing and pain relieving. If you only can afford one of these oils rather than making this blend then get the lemon balm oil. Put one drop on the area neat, meaning no carrier oil. I RARELY RECOMMEND USING OILS UNDILUTED AND THIS SHOULD ONLY BE DONE AS AN EMERGENCY TREATMENT. You can make a roller ball using 30 drops lemon balm oil in 10ml carrier for frequent use but you wont get the same results as the synergesic blend I mentioned previously. The worst part about trying to heal a cold sore is the cracking and bleeding so this blend keeps the sore moist enough to be comfortable but not so wet that the scab gets gooey and you have to start all over because it dissolves away. You can apply as many times a day as needed and I recommend often.
Next, as soon as i can get to it I pop two 500mg L-lysine capsules. This is an amino acid that literally prevents the virus from being able to duplicate itself and spread. It’s like kryptonite for a virus. I take another 1000mg that same evening and I continue this for about three days. Be warned that this can cause a little loose poo. No stomach discomfort or diarrhea just a little off because of the high doses. If you have trouble then reduce dose or just omit this part if you have to.
When I have a really, really bad flare I will dip a q-tip in lemon balm tincture and hold it right on my cold sore for several minutes, several times a day. Lemon balm is a powerhouse anti-viral that seems to really go to town on the herpes virus. Perhaps this is because lemon balm also works on soothing the nervous system and stressed systems are weakened to viral infections like herpes.
This brings me to part three of my cold sore remedy. I take an adapotgen herb daily and my preference is schizandra berry tincture. I love the taste of the sour, sweet, bitter berry. You can use ashwagandha, astragalus, reishi or any other adaptogen you are fond of. During my cold sore outbreak I mix one dropperful of schizandra and one dropperful of lemon balm tinctures and take once daily. This not only helps kick that little sucker’s butt but it will help you readjust the stress hormones in your body. A daily dose of an adaptogen can be a big help for those of us that want to prevent stress taking over our lives and bodies. This includes physical, mental and emotional stressors. These herbs help your body “adapt” and have a more healthy response to anything that stresses the system.
Lastly, my most important and easily overlooked remedy for treating cold sores and definitely preventing them in the first place is REST. Yep, no fancy herbal formula here, just good old fashioned self care. Sip some tea, take a nap, eat a healthy meal and sleep, sleep, sleep. Sleep creates the perfect recovery zone for your body. Try to get as close to 7-8 hours a night as often as you can.
Now, just a few other words of caution here. DO NOT PICK!!! Resist all temptation to even touch the cold sore, much less pick at the scab. If you can avoid any bleeding then you are going to heal much faster. Once the virus stops multiplying then you are really just healing the skin. The more often you pick that scab off the longer it’s going t take. If you do find yourself with a thick bloody scab you can gently “soak it off” by placing a very wet tissue over it for five minutes and then gently lifting the tissue off. Usually the thick scab will come with it. I don’t recommend this but sometimes, especially in the morning there has been some bleeding and scabbing due to sleeping with your mouth open and it drying out and cracking. Once you are able to get the fresh bleeding stopped by using a damp tissue and gentle pressure, you should apply a healing balm like calendula or use your rollerball to hydrate the area.
Repeat these steps as necessary until your lip tissue is completely healed. Skip lipstick and glosses until you’re all better or you’ll just contaminate the makeup and have to throw it away.
Do everything in your power to prevent your system from getting out of whack by getting plenty of sleep, using immune supporting and adaptogenic herbs regularly, eating healthy foods and doing whatever you like to do to reduce stress…such as exercise, meditate, garden, play with your pets, etc…
Good luck to you. I know if you have clicked on this article and have read to the end then you are most likely suffering from a cold sore right now. I hope this information helps you like it has helped me and my clients over the years. Sending love and virus ass-kicking support your way!