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Sandra

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I've been prone to getting cold sores when I'm under stress. Sometimes I get them without any warning whatsoever. I was wondering if there are any alternative methods of dealing with cold sores that would be more or at least as effective as conventional creams such as Zovirax? thnx! Sandra

Carolyn

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Hi Sandra, The virus that causes Herpes labialis or cold sores can be brought about during illness with fever, exposure to sun and apparently sea air according to Pathologic Mechanisms and Human Disease, or menstrual disturbances which can help to reduce resistance and so allow the virus to get hold. This being the rationale, I would suggest that any factors that deplete the immune system could potentially open the door so to speak to the virus. From a holistic approach one might consider whatever methods and techniques are available to boost the immune system - including of course meditation, massage and aromatherpeutic administrations. Remembering that cold sores are highly infectious, you might take the advice of Martin Watt and Charlotte Mitchell fromtheir publication Natural Beauty page 66 when they suggest that to achieve 'the most effective treatment, use fresh plant preparations first, followed by the essential oils of your choice. This is because the fresh plants are far more likely to contain water-soluble antiviral compounds that may be lacking in hot-distilled essential oils." Expressed citrus essences may avoid this and Citrus bergamia has been referenced by Price & Price, 1995, Aromatherapy for Health Care Professionals, page 66, for use against Herpes simplex type 1 which usually affects the mouth, along with Citrus limonum, Melaleuca alternifolia, Melaleuca viridiflora, Pelargonium graveolens, Rosmarinus officinalis (although no chemotype is given), Satureja montana, and Melissa officinalis (if you can get the real thing and not just a melissa-type oil)confirmed by Cohen et al 1964, Herrman & Kucera 1967, and Kucera & Herrman 1967. she also recommends Eucalyptus smithii personally. Joy E. Bowles describes the work of Benecia and Courreges (1999) on page 45 of The Basic Chemistry of ARomatherapeutic Essential Oils which suggests that their testing of Sandalwood oil against Herpes simplex viruses I and II in vitro might be useful as an early on-set preventative for cold sores since the oil was able to inhibit replication of both viruses, but didn't kill them. She also states on page 55 "Apparently papilloma virus, herpes viruses and other viruses which attack the nervous system such as shingles can be killed by ketones (Penoel & Franchomme, 1990, p.196). This remains to be confirmed in further scientific research." Kurt Schnaubelt in Medical Aromatherapy page 246 suggests that "Lavender, Eucalyptus globulus, Eucalyptus citriodora, geranium, or melissa are highly effective. The recommended course of action is to apply the oils hourly for the first twenty-four hours, if well tolerated undiluted. Once the lesions start to dry out and the skin becomes dry and taut, the application of the oils should be continued in a hazelnut oil base with the addition of vitamin E." Martin Watt and Charlotte Mitchell suggest using Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis - and far easier and cheaper to grow in your garden than it is to find the pure essential oil!) by crushing a few fresh leaves and apply to the area for a few minutes. You can also make an infusion of the leaves and soak a cloth to use as a compress to the area if you don't like the idea of slapping mashed foliage onto your face and especially near your mouth. They also recommend sage and thyme herbs - making a 'double strength infusion and keep dabbing this on the affected area'. The general idea is to dry up and shrink the sores as quickly as possible and so they also advise using witch hazel which is one of the best astringents around. With this in mind then, I would recommend trying Cupressus semperivens - cypress - which is considered to be more highly astringent than witch hazel according to Durrafourd, 1982. Hope this helps. Let me know how you go on. Best, Carolyn Sajdecki

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