Herbal and other remedies

When discussing treatment options with patients, many individuals are interested in more natural therapies for cold sores.  Although data is limited, there is some evidence that has been published on the role of these agents in managing cold sores.  It is important to review this information carefully before you recommend any of these items to your patient.

Probiotics enhance the innate immune response to help the body fight off infections.28

Zinc is an essential mineral which helps facilitate immune system function. In a randomized trial,  patients treated with zinc oxide/glycine experienced a shorter duration of lesions (5 vs. 6.5 days). There was also a reduction in blistering, soreness, itching, and tingling. The zinc dose 23-50 mg when used orally; topically 0.025-0.25%.29

Vitamin C and topical vitamin E have been used as therapy for herpes simplex labialis.  Vitamin C has been shown to inactivate HSV and boost the immune system. Vitamin E may relieve pain and aid healing of herpetic lesions. Vitamin C may be dosed up to 10,000 mg daily based on GI tolerance.30

Peppermint oil has direct virucidal activity against HSV-1 and 2.31

Aloe Vera extract contains vitamins, fatty acids, hormones, and minerals. Aloe vera inactivates enveloped viruses like HSV and promotes wound healing.32

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