A small skin blister occurs anywhere around the mouth. Usually several such blisters appear together in a cluster. An outbreak is often preceded by a tingling in the lips. The blisters are small at first but soon enlarge, causing itching, irritation, and soreness. Within a few days, they burst and become encrusted, and they usually disappear within a week.


What are Cold Sores?

From Modern Western Medicine

The strain of the virus most often responsible for cold sores is called HSV1 (herpes simplex virus 1). The first attack may pass unnoticed or may cause an illness resembling influenza and painful ulcers in the mouth and on the lips—a condition called gingivostomatitis. Subsequently, the virus lies dormant in nerve cells, but in some people it is occasionally reactivated when the person is exposed to hot sunshine or cold wind, has a cold or other infection, or is feeling run down. Women seem more likely to develop cold sores at the time of their periods, and some people are afflicted regularly throughout the year. No effective preventative treatment is available, although some people find that applying a lip salve before sun exposure does help prevent breakouts. If cold sores are particularly troublesome, a physician may prescribe idoxuridine paint or the antiviral drug acyclovir to sooth them.


From Traditional Medicine

Cold sores arise for acid-rich blood, which itself is cause by a diet rich in acidic foods and spices. Acidic food weakens the spleen, liver, and stomach. They also drain the body of minerals and weaken the immune system. Once the immune function is depressed and the blood is richer in acid, the virus can take hold in the system. Stress also plays a role in the onset of the condition, especially since it contributes to acidity. The primary form of treatment, therefore, is to eat more alkalizing food and mineral-rich foods and reduce stress.


Who Gets Cold Sores?

Most people—perhaps as many as 90% worldwide—are infected at some point during their lives.


Foods to Eat

  • Beta carotene-rich foods, such as squash, carrots, collard greens, kale, mustard greens, and broccoli, are all immune boosters
  • Mineral-rich foods, such as leaf greens, roots, and sea vegetables are immune boosters
  • Shiitake mushrooms are immune boosters, antiviral, and antifungal
  • Garlic is an immune boosters, antiviral, and antifungal
  • Whole grains are rich in vitamin E, fiber, and complex carbohydrates
  • Miso soup which is alkalizing, especially to digestion


Foods to Avoid

  • Red meat and other high-protein foods (protein is converted to uric acid in the blood and increases the likelihood of infection)
  • Spices
  • Tomatoes


Herbs to Treat Cold Sores

  • Black Walnut: tincture, 10 – 20 drops three times daily day; fluid extract, 1 – 2 tsp., three to four times per day; infusion, 6 oz., applied one to four times daily
  • Goldenseal ointment applied topically; alternate w/ aloe vera
  • Goldenseal: tincture, 15 – 30 drops per cup of water, two times daily



Apply ice at first sign of tingling 15 – 20 minutes; repeat frequently throughout the day. Apply vitamin E between applications.


  • Zinc ointment (topical)
  • Beta-carotene: 15 – 20 mg per day
  • Vitamin B complex: 50 mg, once daily
  • Pantothenic acid:  250 mg per day
  • Zinc: 15 mg, once per day