I was about to post a comment about cancre sores/herpes simplex on a friend’s blog, but when I thought about it, I realized I had more than a comment’s worth to say on the subject, having dealt with them my entire life.
Let me start though by saying that I am not a doctor and I am not dispensing medical advice, but sharing what I have learned from my own and my family’s experiences. I have spoken to numerous doctors (and midwives) and discovered that the information about cancre sores/herpes is often sparse and contradictory.
From what I have gathered, cold sores and herpes sores are distinct but related viruses. Both are incurable and live dormant inside of your body for your entire life; however, early recognition of prodromal symptoms, proactive dietary care, and judicious use of medications can prevent most outbreaks. Cancre sores are typically found inside the mouth and are not contagious. Herpes or cold sores appear on the lips and outside the mouth and are very contagious. Fastidious hand washing and use of separate dishes and glassware (no sharing!) can help prevent spread herpes within a family or among friends. Herpes sores of the mouth can be passed to the genital area and vice versa. Both cancre and herpes/cold sores can be extremely painful and cause the kind of general lethargy, loss of appetite, and localized swelling associated with any infection. I have found that, as a rule, a “cure” for cancre sores also work well for cold sores.
To begin with, I have noticed that outbreaks are generally caused by
1) Stress – in particular, lack of sleep.
2) Dietary Imbalance – especially lack of protein or imbalance of lysine and arginine, and an excess of citrus.
Keeping in mind that the virus for cancre/cold sores is dormant in the body, the best defense is to keep the body strong and well-rested. I find that I am most susceptible to sores when I have not had enough sleep (cramming for finals in college), when I am sick or generally under the weather, and also, several days before I get my period.
I still get cancre sores though – but it helps greatly to recognize prodromal symptoms, that is, the signs before an eruption, which include sensitivity and a slight tingling. Furthermore, I have noticed that certain areas of my mouth have more of a tendency to a sore eruption – these are hot spots that need to be watched; these spots are probably weaker due to previous infection.
The best prevention medicine I have found to date is something called Cold Sores Begone that I got from the health food store. Its main ingredients are aloe vera, echinacea, golden seal, lemon balm, and allantoin. It tastes sweet and does not sting when applied AND if I get it on soon enough, I rarely get the cancre sore at all.
I should say though, that I did at some point ten years ago, get a prescription for a hardcore medicine for cold sores called Valtrex (two horse pills a day for ten days at first onset) and after using that 3-4 times I get outbreaks very infrequently.
Dietary imbalance also appears to cause outbreaks. When I first started reading about this, it seemed to be a simple correlation between lysine and arginine: lysine (red meat, soy beans, milk, potatoes) suppresses cancre sores; and arginine (chocolate, nuts, chicken) causes outbreaks. I read that taking daily lysine supplements could prevent outbreaks. (Read more here.)
HOWEVER, the worst outbreaks I have ever had in my entire life were when I was taking lysine supplements. I don’t know whether I was talking too much or mixed with too many other things, but I do not mess with lysine supplements any more. At all.
I have also read that that vegetarians often have low lysine levels – and when Bella was a vegetarian for two years her cancre sore outbreaks got increasingly worse. In retrospect, I think that that her frequent outbreaks were more due to a lack of lysine than a lack of protein.
My husband finds that when he has too much citrus (juice or fruits) he also gets cancre sores. I don’t know if this is related to a dietary imbalance or just the general acidity of citrus exacerbating a weak spot in the mouth.
In general, I think that our best defenses have been to rest and eat well – and to act on prodromal symptoms. I am wary of supplements, but I definitely try and keep my lysine levels up through my diet. And when I am tired or sick, I avoid chocolate and nuts. Also, considering that Cold Sores Begone has aloe as a main ingredient, probably fresh aloe applied directly on the sore wouldn’t hurt either.
(Here is another web discussion about cold sores and possible remedies. And this website with the strange name, www. animated-teeth.com, has the most comprehensive list of possible outbreak triggers I have ever seen.)
[Cancre sores are also known as canker sores or recurring aphthous ulcers.]