If you struggle with cold sores, then you know just how dreadful they can be. Those tiny, tingling volcanoes erupt on your lip just when you need a confidence boost the most. It can be tempting to squeeze them, cover them up, or spend big bucks on products that promise to cure them. But before you reach for the nearest tube of mystery chemicals, let’s explore some natural herbs that can be used to fight against cold sores.
What Are Cold Sores?
Cold sores, also known as fever blisters – as they often appear when you’re already sick – are caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). This virus stays dormant in your body and loves to take advantage of times when your immune system is weakened, like during stress, illness, or exhaustion. Unfortunately, there is no cure for herpes simplex, so once you get it – you have it for life. When a cold sore begins to emerge on your lip, it’s often too late to do anything but ride it out.
Thankfully, as with all viral infections, the duration of a cold sore can be reduced and its impact minimized with the right natural tools.
Herbs That Can Fight Cold Sores
Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) is has been used for anxiety and digestive issues, but its antiviral punch is what makes it a worthy opponent for HSV.
Multiple studies have been conducted on lemon balm’s effect on cold sores, showing that ointments containing the herb tend to shorten the duration of the infection and reduce the redness and swelling associated with the sores.
Lemon balm is easy to find in health food stores – it is often sold as tea or simply in bulk as dry leaves. You can also grow lemon balm in your herb garden and dry it yourself. Drinking a concoction of lemon balm leaves, either fresh or dried, or a lemon balm extract curbs the spread of the virus and alleviates the symptoms.
Tea Tree Essential Oil (Melaleuca alternifolia) is a skincare favorite and a valuable weapon in your arsenal against fever blisters. This powerful oil, distilled from the leaves of the Australian tea tree, is chock full of antibacterial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and antifungal properties. No wonder it is used for so many different skin conditions, including acne, dandruff, dermatitis, athlete’s foot, and of course, cold sores.
Studies suggest tea tree oil can help shorten the lifespan of cold sores, and its antibacterial properties can help prevent them from festering and getting worse.
One important thing to note is that tea tree essential oil is highly concentrated and should never be applied directly on the skin undiluted. You can add it to other ingredients in recipes or mix it with a carrier oil, such as olive oil, to prevent a bad skin reaction.
Apple Cider Vinegar (with the “Mother”) is a tangy elixir made from fermented apples, which is packed with probiotics and beneficial bacteria. The “mother” refers to the cloudy sediment at the bottom, rich in enzymes, good bacteria, and nutrients. Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is used in a wide variety of natural remedies as well as tasty salad dressings and other foods.
When it comes to treating oral herpes outbreaks, ACV’s acidity is believed to help create an inhospitable environment for viruses, making it a natural disinfectant for cold sores. Because of its healing blend of friendly bacteria and beneficial enzymes, it also helps the skin heal and rebalance quickly after an infection.
DIY Cold Sore Spray
Now, let’s combine these herbs into a potent potion! This DIY spray brings together the soothing power of lemon balm tea, the antiviral magic of tea tree oil, and the acidic bite of ACV to create a natural cold sore remedy.
- 1 cup water
- ¼ cup dried lemon balm leaves
- 10 drops tea tree essential oil
- 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (with the mother)
- small spray bottles (or any glass container)
- Brew lemon balm tea by combining water and dried lemon balm leaves in a small pot. Bring it to a boil and let it simmer for 15 minutes. Let it cool completely.
- Strain the cooled tea into a mixing bowl.
- Add the tea tree oil and apple cider vinegar. Mix well.
- Pour the mixture into your small spray bottles. If you don’t have spray bottles, you can use a small glass jar, and apply to your skin using cotton balls dipped in the mixture.
How to Use
As soon as you feel that tingle of a cold sore coming on, spray or dab the affected area several times a day. You can repeat this until the cold sores start to go away.
Store your spray in the refrigerator for up to a week.
Using this spray regularly at the first sign of a cold sore can help shorten its lifespan and soothe the discomfort. Consistency is key! Make sure to apply the mixture several times a day to let the antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties of the herbs do their job. And don’t forget the power of prevention. A strong immune system is your best defense against any invader, viral or otherwise. So, prioritize sleep, eat plenty of fruits and veggies, manage stress, and get some sunshine. Together, with the help of this herbal spray, you can say goodbye to cold sores and hello to healthier lips.