Help for Cold Sores and Herpes Infections

Are you worried about painful cold sores? They are highly contagious. If you kiss someone with a cold sore, or drink from their cup, you could get it too. I don't personally get them, so last week, I inwardly freaked out when the woman who was giving me a much-needed manicure had two large blisters on her lips. This incident made me wonder what I would do if I had these painful sores, and how can I help you with them.

Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV) which belongs to a large family of herpes pathogens which cause chicken pox, shingles or keratitis (can cause corneal blindness). Millions of folks carry herpes viruses, and the cold sores in particular are not only embarrassing, but painful too. Oral herpes causes cold sores on the lips, inside the roof of your mouth or on your gums. Genital herpes causes lesions where the sun don't shine. Either way, ouch!

You can get it if someone touches their sore, then you; you can get it sharing utensils or kissing and making out. Once inside your body, your immune system jumps to it and hopefully it's just a single episode. If your immune system is sluggish, you're in for a lifelong battle with frequent outbreaks. The frequency is impacted by your diet, lifestyle and immune strength (which is dependent on having healthy intestinal flora).

Running yourself into the ground with chronic stress or worry can activate the virus and cause lesions. Pulling all-nighters, eating candy bars, drinking alcohol, smoking, eating white flour goodies and junk food can increase risk. Ingesting foods you are intolerant to, or being deficient in probiotics can increase those flare-ups. Diets high in arginine are thought to activate herpes so avoid avoid all nuts, cashews, chocolate, cereal, lentils and sunflower seeds.

Antiviral drugs like acyclovir or Valtrex are commonly used to treat HSV infections. Unfortunately, there are increasing problems with drug resistance, similar to the problem with antibiotics and superbugs. If you do take the antiviral drug and use them long term, often there are plenty of side effects and potential damage to the kidneys and liver. I'm passionate about natural remedies, so here's a few to ponder:

Lemon balm. I'd make a tea out of this, and drink it. Let the herb steep (not boil) for about 15 minutes then drink. I'd also apply it to your sore with a cotton pad. You can cool the tea first to make it feel better upon application.

Curcumin. It's well known for antiviral, antifungal and antibacterial power but it also fights HSV which means it could help you reduce the frequency and severity of your infection. We have a study to show that. Supplement, or try applying a mini-poultice to your lip sore by mixing turmeric spice with just enough water to form a paste. For extra effect, dump a little curcumin powder from your capsule into the mixture.

Lavender and myrrh. Buy both of those and combine them, apply to the sore. Dilute if it stings.

For more natural remedies, come to my website, www.SuzyCohen.com and sign up for my newsletter. You'll get the longer version of this article with more pain-relieving tips.

Dear Readers,
Here are the most interesting new medications that hit the market in 2014. My column is printed in various languages so I apologize that I've only listed English brand names, please ask your local pharmacist for translations. Happy holidays! Love, Suzy

Jublia (efinaconazole) Topical solution,
Rx: This an antifungal and can be used for toenail fungus (for example onychomycosis). I like topical medicine for toenail fungus, they are much safer than oral ones which can harm your liver. Over time, Jublia might help you wear pretty sandals without embarrassment, however in the meantime, avoid pedicures and nail polish during treatment.

Zontivity (Vorapaxar) Tablets,
Rx: This medication is in a brand new class of it's own, called a "protease-activated receptor-1 (PAR-1) antagonist." It prevents clumping of the blood so it is for high-risk folks who want to try and reduce the risk of heart attacks. Bleeding and bruising is a side effect if you take too much. Like many drugs, this one is based upon a natural plant, it's just a morphed version of "himbacine" which comes from the bark of an Australian magnolia tree!

Farxiga (Dapagliflozin) Tablets,
Rx: This is used for Type 2 diabetes. It's classified as a SGLT2 inhibitor in my world, this drug works by reducing the amount of sugar your body absorbs, and pushes out more sugar from your urine. Side effects include dehydration, a drop in blood pressure, urinary tract infections and thrush.

Northera (droxidopa) Capsules,
Rx: This medication is a synthetic version of a compound in your own body that makes norepinephrine, your "fight or flight" hormone. So taking it will increase blood pressure, helpful if you have postural orthostatic hypotension (POTS). The medication is approved for use in people with nervous system conditions, such as Parkinson's, multiple system atrophy, autonomic failure and more. Some people get a headache.

Otezla (Apremilast) Tablets,
Rx: A prescription medicine used for the treatment of psoriatic arthritis. It is being tested for use in rheumatoid arthritis too. Common side effects include nausea, diarrhea and headache.

Dalvance (Dalbavancin) Injection, and also Sivextro (tedizolid) Tablets and Injection,
Rx: These are two brand new antibiotics used to treat dangerous skin and soft tissue infections caused by highly resistant pathogens such as MRSA (Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus). Like all antibiotics, especially the strong ones, there is a risk of secondary Clostridium difficile or "C. diff" infection.

Akynzeo (netupitant and palonosetron), Capsules,
Rx: is used to treat chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. It's a combination of two different chemical ingredients, one of which tends to increase serotonin so please do not combine with other serotonin-related drugs (like SSRI antidepressants) or too much serotonin will accumulate. It's called Serotonin Syndrome. It's unlikely to occur with this medication, I just want you to know about the interaction. It may be taken without regard to meals.

Imbruvica (Ibrutinib) Capsules,
Rx: This medication is big news for people with CLL (chronic lymphocytic leukemia). Common side effects are thrombocytopenia, anemia and fatigue.

Have you ever had a sore throat, been stung by a bee, or twisted your ankle? Do you have arthritis, back pain or headaches? Whenever you are in pain, even post-surgical pain, your body makes compounds in response to the injury which cause temporary redness, heat, swelling, and pain. Then naturally produced enzymes in your body eat up these inflammatory compounds, and that is when you notice the swelling goes down, the pain is relieved and the redness or stiffness recedes.

One second ago, an enzyme in your body called superoxide dismutase (SOD) just chased out a cancer-causing toxin that your cell accidentally spawned. You make all sorts of enzymes, and what's cool is that you can also buy certain enzymes as a dietary supplement, including SOD. Lactose is an enzyme that chews up milk sugars, helping some people to tolerate milk. Bromelain, derived from pineapples, helps with allergies and helps people post-surgically. It might even reduce scarring if taken soon enough. People who take acid blockers could benefit from papain, an enzyme derived from papaya fruit that works nicely with your stomach's pH range.

Proteolytic enzymes another type of enzyme. They chew up proteins and help with digestion. I think they're great for chronic pain syndromes. They help dissolve fibrin deposits which helps bruising. As a teenager (way back in the 1980's) we played a game called Pac Man. Remember?(Please tell me you remember). This popular arcade game included a Pac-Man which traveled a maze and gobbled up ghosts. I was a monster at Pac-Man in my hey day! Proteolytic enzymes work in the same way, they just gobble up debris, as opposed to ghosts.

With less debris, there is improved circulation. That means more oxygen and healing nutrients to the site of injury. As a pharmacist, I recommend you reach for proteolytic enzymes before you NSAIDs such as acetaminophen, naproxen or ibuprofen. Why? Because they are temporary and they have side effects. It's the equivalent of applying a bandage, and while most of you fair out well, the unlucky few experience diarrhea, nausea, headaches, dizziness, bleeding ulcers or heaven forbid, kidney damage. Besides, if you mask your pain with medicine, but continue to operate as normal, you increase your risk of permanent damage.

A German paper studied proteolytic enzymes in 100 athletes. The results were shocking. More than 75 percent said the enzyme treatment was favorable and no side effects were reported! So incredible were the results that the German government sent millions of enzyme capsules to the Olympics to help their athletes heal quicker.

Enzymes are a necessity to life, just like oxygen, food, clean water and shelter. (Some may argue that chocolate should be included as well).

For chronic pain syndromes, as opposed to digestive issues, I recommend that you take your proteolytic enzyme supplement on an empty stomach. This increases the 'Pac-Man' effect by up to 40 percent. While these supplements are generally well-tolerated, I occasionally hear of allergies, rashes and digestive upset.

You're methylating right now! This means you're turning folate (vitamin B9) from your food, into something else called SAMe. It's the process called "methylation" and SAMe is your body's head honcho, the CEO if you will!

SAMe stands for S-adenosylmethionine and drives hundreds of chemical reactions in your body. If you ate a salad for lunch, you're turning that folate into SAMe as we speak. Well, let's hope because SAMe helps you get rid of poisons. The biggest mistake you could make is thinking that methylation problems don't apply to you because you don't have the gene mutation, what we call the genetic snp (pronounced "snip"). Nothing could be further from the truth. As a pharmacist, and a Functional Medicine practitioner, I assure you that your medicine has the capacity to mess up your methylation! Then poisons back up.

Don't think you make poisons in your body because you eat well and exercise? Wrong. Your cells churn poisons out as metabolic waste products probably a million times a minute! You better hope and pray your methylation pathway is up to snuff because if you don't methylate, toxic by-products build up all over your body. This equates to pain, depression, inflammation, elevated homocysteine, cognitive dysfunction, depression, higher risk for neural tube defects and much more discomfort. If you have the genetic snp it's a one-two punch for health problems galore.

So in summary, medications hinder your methylation pathway, whether or not you have a snp. These are the primary offenders:

Cholestyramine. This is a bile acid sequestrate used for reducing cholesterol as well as reducing Herxheimer (die-off) reactions. It is a drug mugger of folate and fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin D, A, E and K. Remember, no folate, no methylation!

Birth control or hormonal replacement drugs with estrogen. these drugs are known drug muggers of magnesium, B6 and B2 (riboflavin); that puts the breaks on methylation. Started 'The Pill' recently, and now you feel down in the dumps? This could be why.

Proton Pump Inhibitors (Nexium, Prilosec, Prevacid, others). Lowering natural acid production in the stomach reduces levels of magnesium, and critical B vitamins. Snp or not, your body simply cannot conduct methylation adequate levels of these nutrients!

Antibiotics like amoxicillin, sulfamethoxazole, doxycycline and dozens more. Antibiotics kill your intestinal microflora (what you call your probiotics). Without the friendly gut flora, you cannot produce vitamin B12 (methylcobalamin). You also cannot activate riboflavin or folate so therefore, your methylation is blocked.

Ibuprofen. This is a drug mugger of folate, so it blocks methylation directly by stealing your folate.

Blood pressure pills like ACE inhibitors. These drugs (enalapril, lisinopril, etc) cause added zinc excretion. You need zinc to conduct methylation.

Nitrous oxide. Been to the dentist lately? If you got NO gas, then no methylation took place for awhile!

There are hundreds of other medicines that hinder your ability to methylate, snp or not! You may not have your genetic details or tests yet, so here are clues to poor methylation: Nerve pain, numbness or tingling, chronic fatigue, anxiety, insomnia, depression, mood swings, attention problems, cervical dysplasia, miscarriage, brain fog, weakness and lots of allergies.

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