Technology has allowed us easy access to scientific information regarding substances. Many are probably aware by now that certain compounds are necessary to keep the body in its optimum condition. A particular group of compounds needed for many bodily functions is amino acids. They play important roles in multiple processes such as manufacturing proteins, transmitting nerve signals, and synthesizing hormones. However, can amino acids be also used to treat illnesses? A specific amino acid we’ll be examining in this article is l-lysine. We will also discuss the possibilities of using l-lysine as a cure for herpes.
A study retrieved from the Harvard School of Medicine describes the chemical composition of amino acids as consisting of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, and oxygen. There are over 20 amino acids that your body needs in order to function properly. However, although these amino acids are highly important, only nine are classified as essential, and these include histidine, leucine, isoleucine, lysine, phenylalanine, methionine, tryptophan, threonine and valine.
Unlike other types of amino acids, the essential nine cannot be synthesized by the body. Jillian Kubala, a registered dietician and health writer states that the human body cannot create the nine essential amino acids because it lacks the components needed for their production. Thus, it’s necessary to acquire an adequate level of essential amino acids from your diet.
Protein-rich foods are the main sources of these amino acids. These include lean meats such as beef, poultry, pork, and fish. These foods are also rich sources of healthy fatty acids, vitamins A, B and D, and minerals like zinc and iron. Some plant foods that offer good amounts of amino acids are whole grains, seeds, nuts, and legumes. Another option is to take amino acids supplements in capsule, tablet, or powder form.
L-lysine or simply lysine is an integral participant in multiple bodily functions and processes. In fact, a study available in the PubMed Central database states that lysine is essential in the production of protein compounds and hormones. Lysine also cooperates with vitamin D to increase calcium absorption for the formation of stronger bones. In addition, lysine helps intensify the activity of the immune system to combat disease-causing bacteria and viruses.
Lysine is also involved in enhancing the production of collagen and elastin—the powerful duo for keeping the skin youthful and plump and for boosting its healing processes. In addition, lysine is vital in producing carnitine, a substance that aids in converting fatty acids into energy, decreasing the level of blood cholesterol in the process.
Because lysine is an essential amino acid, the human body is unable to produce it due to the lack of enzymes needed for its synthesis. Lysine, therefore, has to be orally ingested from food or dietary supplements.
A number of studies suggest that regular lysine supplementation can prevent progression of the herpes simplex. However, has it really been tested and proven to cure herpes?
This is an infection caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV) which mainly affects the external genitalia and the skin in various parts of the body. Herpes simplex virus has two types: oral herpes or herpes type 1 (HSV-1) and genital herpes or herpes type 2 (HSV-2). Statistics used in an article reviewed by Dr. Xixi Luo of the University of Illinois Hospital show that over 15% of people in the United States from ages 14 to 49 have HSV-2.
Symptoms associated with herpes include ulcerations, blisters, painful urination, cold sores, fever, and vaginal itching and discharge. It’s important to note, however, that some carriers of the HSV virus experience no symptoms. In fact, the signs for herpes can show years after initially contracting the virus.
Today, there is no known cure for herpes, but discomfort caused by the symptoms can be alleviated using over-the-counter medications like topical creams and gels. Others also use home remedies such as bath salts.
HSV can be easily passed on to someone through skin contact especially in areas like the linings of the mouth, genitalia, and anal region. HSV cannot be transmitted by touching an object that has been touched by an infected individual. Infection is also unlikely to occur by sitting on a toilet seat where an HSV-infected person has sat.
The highest risk of contracting the virus is by genital contact, such as in the case of having unprotected vaginal or anal sex, receiving oral sex from a person with cold sores, and sharing sex toys with an infected person. It’s also possible for a mother with genital herpes to pass the virus on to the baby if she gives birth while she has sores.
How Lysine Helps with Herpes
Although lysine supplementation may not prevent or cure herpes, it may help reduce recurrences. In fact, a number of clinical studies report that lysine is effective in speeding up the healing of recurrent herpes infections and outbreaks. A particular report has found that taking three grams of lysine within a period of six months showed efficacy in the reduction of both recurrence and severity. Another study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information has shown a supporting and comparable result in the supplementation of one gram of lysine daily within a 12-month period.
HSV infection, both primary and recurrent, depends mainly on a cellular transcriptional coactivator that consists of demethylases (a type of enzymes). Lysine works by inhibiting the activity of these enzymes, thus blocking the progression of viral infection and interfering with gene expression. It also antagonizes the pathways of arginine—an amino acid necessary for the replication of HSV-1.
To sum up, although a herpes infection cannot be cured, lysine supplementation can lower risks of recurrence and reduce severity by restricting the virus from thriving within the body. Before starting lysine supplementation, it’s recommended to discuss lysine and other alternatives with your trusted healthcare provider to identify the most suitable treatment for your type of infection.
It’s also important to note that the safety of lysine supplementation for pregnant and lactating women has not been proven yet. Lysine also boosts calcium absorption, therefore, it’s suggested to avoid taking it with calcium supplements as excessively high levels of calcium can cause serious health problems.
To avoid herpes infection, it’s recommended to use condoms when having sex, avoid having sex during outbreaks and refrain from kissing when cold sores are present. If you’re already infected and wish to avoid recurrence, it’s important to manage stress and avoid extreme physical activities as stress and exhaustion can trigger a recurrence. It’s also suggested that you avoid sunbathing and exposing your skin to friction.