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Can Lysine Reduce the
Lysine (l-lysine) is an amino acid that has been shown to be effective at helping prevent herpes outbreaks. It works by flooding the body with lysine, so that another amino acid, arginine which the herpes virus needs to replicate, or make more of itself, gets crowded out of the cells where the herpes virus lives. Without enough arginine, herpes viruses can’t make more herpes viruses.
There is a lot of literature on the use of lysine to prevent herpes outbreaks, but there is much less literature regarding using lysine to reduce the length of a herpes outbreak.
What the Evidence Says About Lysine
It is generally agreed that lysine can help prevent outbreaks. While some studies show that lysine helped reduce the duration of outbreaks while other studies showed that it did not. This is hardly clear evidence one way or the other. This is frustrating because there are so many people who have clearly benefitted from taking lysine and say that it will reduce symptoms of herpes outbreaks.
Since the jury is still out on this topic, you might want to keep a journal of your outbreaks for a while without taking lysine, say for about 3 months. Be sure to record everything from the day you notice the tell-tale tingling symptoms that an outbreak is coming, the day you notice the outbreak is actually present, the duration of the outbreak, and the day it resolves. Also, make note of the severity of the outbreak – as in how many lesions did you get, were they small or large, were they painful or just itchy, did they weep or not, etc.
Next, try taking lysine at a dosage of 1,000 mg three times a day. Do this for another three months and then compare the data. Did your outbreaks seem to be reduced in severity? You may try to increase your dosage and repeat this process to see if a higher dosage produces more positive results.
Why Would Lysine Reduce Symptoms of Herpes Outbreak?
The theory behind why the severity of the outbreak and / or its duration might be minimized lies in the way in which lysine helps prevent outbreaks. Essentially, you are trying to fill up your body with lysine so that it is more available than arginine.
Lysine and arginine compete for the same entry way into cells. If lysine beats arginine at filling up the cells, the herpes virus is unable to get enough materials (arginine) to make more of itself. This is what can prevent herpes outbreaks. However, this article is looking at whether or not taking lysine once the outbreak has happened may reduce the duration and severity of the outbreak.
Logic states that if you can begin taking lysine at a sufficient dose at the very beginning of an outbreak, then you may be able to prevent as many herpes viruses from being manufactured, thus halting the onslaught of viruses that attack your healthy cells and cause lesions.
Why Might Lysine Not Help an Outbreak
Naturally, there are a number of extenuating circumstances that might affect the outcome of whether or not lysine helps you once an outbreak has occurred. Probably the most important factor is how soon you start taking the lysine once you realize that an outbreak is imminent. Some people feel a tingling sensation a couple of days in advance of the appearance of lesions, while other people only have a window of a few hours.
No one knows why there is so much difference in the amount of time it takes from the initial tingling to the presentation of lesions. It may have to do with the amount of stress someone is experiencing at the time, to their hormonal levels, to their diet. Stressed people often have more frequent and more severe outbreaks.
Women tend to have outbreaks around the time of their periods due to shifting hormonal levels. Vegans tend to develop more outbreaks because their diets are typically lacking in lysine. Athletes may have more outbreaks because they utilize more lysine in muscle growth and repair.
Since there are some studies that have shown lysine to help shorten the length of a herpes outbreak or lessen its severity, there is a good chance that there is something to that. It will take more studies to figure out why treating with lysine is sometimes effective and sometimes it is not effective. The only way to really know if lysine will reduce symptoms of your herpes outbreaks is to try it yourself.