Top 10 Herbs and Supplements for Cold Sores

They are unpleasant. They are annoying. They are painful. Cold sores are simply unwelcome by everyone. When one of these sores pops up on your lip, your mind automatically starts wondering how you can get rid of this discomforting condition.

The truth is, cold sores normally resolve on their own within a few weeks. But who has the patience to wait for such a long time to finally say goodbye to these painful sores? For all such impatient people, there are a few home remedies that may do the trick in a matter of days. 

What Causes Cold Sores? 

What causes cold sores?

Herpes simplex virus type-1 (HSV-1) is the main culprit behind cold sores. Just like the chickenpox virus, the HSV-1 lives within a nerve that has branches going to the skin. You may have a tiny amount of this virus living deep in your nerve, even if there is no visible lesion on your face.

HSV-1 is extremely contagious and getting infected with is fairly common. In fact, more than 50% of the individuals in the U.S. suffer from this virus that causes cold sores. [1] Interestingly, most people who come in contact with this virus never develop any symptoms. But if the symptoms do develop, it is an indication that the virus can now spread from the infected person to others through close contact. Some routes through which HSV-1 can spread from one person to another include:

  • Kissing
  • Food and drink
  • Cosmetics
  • Lip balm
  • Towels
  • Toothbrush
  • Razors
  • Utensils for food and drinks

As scary as it may sound, it is possible to beat the herpes virus timely and prevent the spread of this discomforting disease. The following natural supplements and herbs for cold sores can be of importance in this context.

Herbs and Supplements for Cold Sores

Dr. Danielle Cold Sore Assist

Tired of using antiviral medicines and dealing with the side effects? As an alternative, use the following herbs and supplements for your cold sores.

Echinacea Purpurea

Echinacea Purpurea for cold sores
Echinacea is a natural herb native to Central and Eastern North America. This natural vegetation has a bright, colorful hue and is extremely beneficial for health. Echinacea is believed to possess immune-boosting properties that help keep many illnesses at bay. Recent studies have proven that Echinacea can also be an extremely potent antiviral agent against both types of herpes strains. [2]

In addition to these antiviral effects, Echinacea also possesses strong anti-inflammatory properties that can soothe any existing, painful blisters too. Echinacea is readily available in the oil or supplement form. You can apply a tiny bit of this oil directly on the cold sores without any dilution.

Organic Elderberry Fruit

The common elderberry fruit has long been used to treat viruses of different kinds. It is known to cut down the severity and length of the flu symptoms in many studies. More recent evidence has suggested that this fruit can be equally effective in the war against cold sores. [3]  As soon as you consume elderberry, the inherent extracts bind to the small spikes present on the viral protein that it uses to attack and destroy the healthy cells. As soon as this attachment occurs, the virus becomes ineffective. The same mechanism is followed by elderberry in its fight against the HSV-1 virus.

Elderberry syrup extract is easily available in the market and you can use a tablespoon of it 3 to 4 times a day to fight cold sores.


Lysine for Cold sores

Lysine is among the nine essential amino acids of the human body. This word 'essential' means that your body is unable to synthesize these on its own, hence, you must consume it from external sources to fulfill the need. Lysine is responsible for activating essential parts of the immune system, such as the T-cells, that consequently help limit the incidence of cold sores. [3]

A study published in Alternative Medicine Review investigated the effects of applying lysine ointment on cold sores every day for a week. Of all the participants, 40% reported healing by day three and 87% of them reversed their cold sores by day three. [4]

You can easily use lysine in the form of ointments or oral supplements, both of which are available over the counter. To prevent a cold sore attack in the future, boost your body's lysine content by eating lysine-rich food such as pork, chicken, turkey, yogurt, beef, eggs, sardines, soybeans, and parmesan cheese.


Monolaurin is a natural chemical that comes from glycerin and lauric acid. It is a common byproduct of coconut fat. For the past few decades, scientists have been investigating all possible applications of monolaurin in the sanitization, medicine, and food preservation, and some interesting results have emerged.

It has been reported that monolaurin can, in fact, deactivate different types of viruses, one of which is the HSV-1. [5] Monolaurin-containing gels have also been found to reduce the risk of contracting SIV, which is the primitive form of HSV-1. [6] The same study also considered monolaurin as an excellent preventive therapy against cold sores.

You can easily take monolaurin in the form of a dietary supplement. It can be easily found in a vitamin shop of your local health food store. Monolaurin supplements are also available online through different sellers; however, you must be careful enough to buy only from an authentic seller.

Lomatium Root

Lomatium has been highly regarded by the Native Americans of the Pacific Northwest who have been using it as a primary herb for all types of infections for decades. However, with the rapid medical advancements that followed, the role of lomatium got lost somewhere in history until now. Today, the scientific world is finally acknowledging the long-lost properties of lomatium against different sorts of viruses which includes the HSV-1. [7] It can be easily used as a topical treatment against cold sores. For example, you may soak a band-aid in a lomatium tincture and apply it on the affected area just before going to bed. Within 4 to 5 days, you will see a visible shrinkage in the size of the sores.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C for cold sores
You must be familiar with the powerful immune-boosting properties of vitamin C by now. It is a strong antioxidant that keeps the body protected from different types of bacteria. Recent research has demonstrated that vitamin C can also be used to speed up the healing of herpes outbreaks. [8] It can also prolong the time between two consecutive outbreaks too.

What is the best source to get lots of vitamin C? Rely on colorful veggies and fruits such as oranges, strawberries, and bell peppers. Papaya and mango are also rich sources of vitamin C. You may also consider taking vitamin C supplements to treat cold sores rapidly.


Zinc therapy has been proven to reduce the frequency of herpes outbreaks while increasing the period between these outbreaks as well. [9] This means that you won't have to get bothered by cold sores appearing on your face as frequently as you used to, but only if you add enough zinc to your diet.

Some amazing sources of zinc include wheat germ, pork, lamb, and chickpeas.

Reports have suggested supplementation with zinc can also reduce the number of times you experience herpes every year. [10] For this purpose, taking 30 milligrams of this supplement per day can be effective.

Lemon Balm

Officially known as Melissa officinalis, lemon balm refers to an herb that's quite famous for its strong antiviral properties. [11] It can be used to reduce the redness and swelling in cold sores as well as warding off other potential infections.

A study published in the journal Phytomedicine, investigated 116 participants with HSV-1. The scientists provided them with lemon balm to apply to their lip sores. Within two days, the swelling and redness were significantly reduced in all the participants, though some level of pain persisted. [12]

You can easily purchase lemon balm as a capsule, leaf, or oil. If you are using lemon balm oil, remember to dilute it with a carrier oil and apply to the cold sores three times a day.


Propolis for cold sores

Propolis is a natural resin made by bees and is loaded with antioxidants to boost immunity and fight infections.  Test tube studies have shown that it can stop both strains of herpes virus from reproducing in the body. One small study found that using a 3% propolis ointment reduced the pain as well as the duration of cold sores in the users. [13]

People with an allergy to bees and asthma must not use propolis supplements without consulting a doctor first.

Licorice Root

Licorice root consists of an active ingredient called glycyrrhizin which has been proven to possess anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties. [14] This active ingredient works by reducing the replication of herpes virus and stopping their ability to get inside the healthy cells. You can easily use licorice root to form an herbal tea or mix it with aloe vera to apply on cold sores directly. It is also available in oil form and can be used without any dilution. 


How to prevent cold sores

While cold sores are extremely painful and discomforting and sometimes they seem like they can take ages to heal, there are ways to reduce this common nuisance. Help your cold sores heal much faster through natural herbs and supplements like lysine, lemon balm, echinacea, and licorice root.

Additionally, it is always a good idea to be aware of your personal triggers of cold sores, for example hormonal changes, stress or fatigue. This way, you can treat the lesions early and speed up the recovery process.

To your health and happiness Doctor Danielle

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