Lysine: More Than a Cold Sore Remedy
If you’ve ever suffered from a painful fever blister, or cold sore as some call it, you’ve probably heard that you can take lysine to help them heal faster.
More than a cold sore remedy, lysine offers health benefits that might surprise you.
What is lysine, and what is it used for? We’re going to explore the world of lysine, as well as caution those who shouldn’t take it.
What is Lysine?
Your body makes proteins using building blocks known as amino acids. Your body needs 20 amino acids to properly function, but your body only makes 11 out of the 20 --- that’s just over half (1). These are known as nonessential amino acids.
The other 9 are found in different food sources. Lysine is one of the 9 amino acids that your body doesn’t make. This is known as an essential amino acid, just like its counterparts:
Whole foods are the best way to incorporate more lysine into your diet. Look for high-protein foods (2) such as:
- Fish (like sardines and cod)
- Fenugreek seeds
What is Lysine Used For?
Like all other amino acids, lysine is critical for growing and prospering. One of its main roles is the production of carnitine, a nutrient primarily responsible for turning fatty acids into energy and lowering LDL cholesterol levels (3).
Not only does lysine help your body absorb calcium, but it also plays a role in how collagen is formed. Collage helps build bones and connective tissues like your cartilage, skin, and tendons (4,5).
In addition, lysine can be used in supplement form to address:
- Herpes simplex virus (HSV): While research is mixed, one study found that lysine may help shorten the lifecycle of the HSV, a virus that hides out in your spine and emerges as a cold sore during times of stress or lowered immune activity (7).
- Osteoporosis: Your bones are constantly being built up and broken down. The older you get, the slower you’re able to replace old bone with new. This can lead to existing bone tissue growing brittle and weak, a condition is known as osteoporosis (8). Lysine may be able to help slow this progression down by helping strengthen existing bones through calcium absorption.
- Blood Pressure: One small study showed that lysine could help lower high blood pressure in those who didn’t get enough lysine in their diet regularly (9). More research needs to be done to determine whether lysine is a viable option for blood pressure control.
- Cancer: One study showed that by combining lysine with the antioxidant catechin, cancer cell growth was reduced (15).
- Blood sugars: While more research is needed on the details, lysine may also be beneficial to those with diabetes. According to a 2009 study, lysine helped lower blood sugar levels by a small but noticeable margin (16).
- Cataracts: One animal study observed that lysine can positively slow the progression of cataracts, especially as it relates to diabetes (14).
- Anxiety: There are quite a few studies that showcase lysine as being a safe and natural way to help reduce feelings of anxiety. This seems to be due to its mechanisms in blocking stress receptors and lowering cortisol levels in the body (10, 11).
Who Should Not Take Lysine?
Because lysine helps your body absorb calcium, be careful if you already take a calcium supplement. Too much calcium can build up and lead to the formation of kidney stones, weaker bones, and abnormalities in your heart and brain (13).
If you’re under 18, pregnant, breastfeeding, or taking other medications, consult with your doctor before taking lysine supplements.
Back to You
When it comes to your health, many parts need to work together. Part of that puzzle includes amino acids, which help structure and build various proteins in your body.
Lysine is among the 9 that your body doesn’t naturally create. Considered an essential amino acid, you need to get this from various foods. Meats, beans, lentils, and dairy are some of the ways you can incorporate more lysine into your diet.
Supplements are another way to add more lysine to your lifestyle but use caution if you’re currently taking calcium or other medications. If you’re interested in seeing if lysine can support your eyes, blood sugars, anxiety, or bone health, talk with your doctor. Together, you can map out a plan that helps you take your health back into your hands.
Eating well, getting enough sleep, and keeping your stress levels are great ways to take care of your health during cold and flu season. For more tips and ideas, check this article out here (17).
✝✝This noted statement is based on independent research and is not necessarily the opinion of the author