How Lysine Helps
Prevent Herpes Outbreaks
Before we can understand why lysine can help with herpes, we first need to examine what lysine is. Lysine, also known as l-lysine, is an amino acid. Ok, but what does that mean?
Why Our Bodies Need Lysine
Our bodies build proteins by stringing together amino acids in a chain. In order to build proteins, it is necessary to have all of the necessary amino acids present. Our bodies produce some of these proteins, but there are some we are unable to synthesize. These are known as “essential amino acids” because they are essential for us to get in order to survive. If you are missing just one amino acid, proteins cannot be synthesized. When we cannot synthesize proteins, we cannot grow or repair our bodies.
Think of it like building a house. If you have lumber, shingles, and concrete for the foundation you are pretty well on your way to having a nice home. Without nails, though, you won’t get very far. Essential amino acids are like the nails.
Lysine is more than just a building block of protein. It also helps to convert fatty acids into energy and lower cholesterol. Lysine helps with the absorption of calcium from the diet and is an important component of collagen which is a connective tissue that holds our bodies together.
Lysine Deficiency – Herpes Diet
Failure to get enough lysine can lead to reproductive disorders, slow growth, agitation, loss of appetite, fatigue, nausea, dizziness, anemia, and blood shot eyes. People who may not get enough lysine are burn patients (because their bodies are reconstructing collagen at a rapid rate), athletes (because their bodies are in a constant state of growing and repairing muscle), and vegans who do not eat enough legumes (lentils, beans, and peas).
Although a vegan diet can be much healthier than a diet containing animal products, lysine is one thing that is not very prevalent in vegan foods. If you are a vegan who does not watch his or her nutritional intake closely (and who really does that?), then you might just opt to take a lysine supplement. The other nutrient vegans may wish to supplement is B12. Like lysine, it is scarce in the vegan diet, but both can be obtained in vegan form for supplementation.
As you will see, making sure that you have enough lysine is critical to avoiding herpes outbreaks. Call it the “Herpes Diet.”
What Does Lysine Have to do with Herpes?
One other function of lysine – well, not so much a function as an effect – is that it competes with another amino acid known as arginine for space in our cells. Each of our cells has little tiny “doors” on them through which certain substances may pass.
Think of those little “doors” as the holes in the child’s toy where the objective is to put the round object through the round hole and the square object through the square hole. The round object will not go through the square hole and vice versa.
Lysine and arginine are like two different colored square blocks. They are both competing to get through the “square doors” on the cell walls. Only one can pass at a time, so if there are tons of lysine blocks and only a few arginine blocks duking it out at the cell door trying to be the one that gets through, by simple probability there will be more lysine blocks that will make it in than arginine before there is no more room.
A Word on Herpes
Ok, finally we have enough information to talk about herpes.
Herpes hangs out in our Central Nervous System and waits until we are stressed – emotionally, hormonally, or physically – and then it mounts a campaign and “breaks out” of the nervous system. The viruses that have been produced then rush to the site at which we were originally infected – usually genitals or lips – and cause sores to erupt. This is its survival strategy to move from one person to another.
Why Is the Amount of Lysine vs. Arginine Important?
The ratio of lysine to arginine is important in preventing herpes outbreaks because the herpes virus requires lots of arginine in order to replicate, or make more of, itself. By having high levels of lysine, we can deprive the herpes virus from a critical component of replication simply because there is no more room in our cells for arginine to fit because lysine beat it to the punch.
Without sufficient building materials to create more herpes viruses, outbreaks become far less frequent or far less severe. Additionally, treating herpes naturally by supplementing over the counter l-lysine as a herpes treatment can reduce the length and severity of the outbreak. How much lysine you need to prevent herpes outbreaks can vary.
Lysine (l-lysine) is known to help both cold sores (oral herpes) and genital herpes.