Proven Health Benefits of L-lysine: Cold Sores, Herpes, Skin, and More

The Amazing Health Benefits of L-lysine

L-lysine (also named lysine) is an essential amino acid that has become very popular because of its amazing health benefits. Lysine occurs naturally in many protein-rich foods like meat, fish, eggs, and dairy products. More and more people are using L-lysine supplements because of their role in keeping your immune system healthy, treating cold sores, reducing cholesterol, helping to cope with stress, improving athletic performance, and having healthy hair.

The body can’t produce lysine, and the only way to get enough of this important amino acid is through diet. However, many vegetarians can’t get enough amounts of lysine because grains have low levels of this protein. Also, some methods of cooking reduce naturally occurring lysine in food.

Although it is generally safe to use as a health supplement, l-lysine can have some side effects on your digestive system if you take too much. Some of the adverse reactions of lysine are stomach pains, diarrhea, and nausea. However, according to, there are “no reported safety concerns despite its wide use.”1

This article examines the many health benefits of L-lysine and the role that this essential amino acid plays in a strong immune system and healthy body.

What is L-lysine (Lysine)?

L-lysine is one of the 9 essential amino acids that the body needs for growth, tissue repair, and other body functions. Essential amino acids like lysine have to come from food or dietary supplements to provide the body with enough protein and energy.

Recommended Lysine Dose

According to, lysine may be dosed from 1 to 3 g daily, as doses in this range appears to be safe for use in adults. Higher dosage may be applied in cases of herpes simplex breakouts.2

Foods that Contain L-lysine

It is possible to get enough of your daily lysine requirements through your diet. However, as the main food sources for lysine are meat and dairy products, this may not be possible for everyone.

According to, here are the best foods that contain the amino acid lysine:3

  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Fish, including tuna, cod, and pike
  • Beef
  • Pork
  • Game meat

Other foods containing lysine are cheeses, eggs, nuts and seeds and pulses.

Scientifically Proven Health Benefits of L-lysine

Let’s look now at how lysine helps to keep you healthy and how you can use L-lysine supplements to boost your health if you suffer from cold sores, acne, shingles, and need to improve your athletic performance.

L-lysine can help to heal cold sores

L-lysine is one of the best supplements to help treat cold sores (fever blisters). Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex type 1 virus (HSV-1) and this virus causes groups of small painful blisters to form around your mouth. These blisters fill with fluid, then drain and scab over.

A study published in the journal Alternative Medicine Review found that L-lysine helps to cure the HSV-1 virus and treat cold sores naturally. The study showed that within 3 days, L-lysine completely cured the symptoms of cold sores in 40% of the participants. Nearly 90% found that within 6 days they no longer had any cold sores.4

You can use a lysine cream to treat the cold sores and make the symptoms heal faster. For more information on treating cold sores naturally, please read my article on natural ways to get rid of fever blisters for some helpful advice.

L-lysine for treating herpes virus

L-lysine supplements are also effective in treating outbreaks of the herpes virus, not just cold sores. Herpes can also affect the genital area and cause blisters, muscle aches, and a burning sensation when urinating.

The British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy published results of a study showing that L-lysine supplements can help treat various herpes infections. They gave participants who had genital herpes, fever blisters, and canker sores a dose of 1g lysine per day. They found that lysine helped get rid of the herpes blisters in under 5 days. They describe lysine as an “effective treatment for the herpes infection.”5

Having a diet rich in lysine or taking 1g L-lysine supplement daily can help prevent outbreaks of a herpes viral infection and help improve its symptoms faster.

Lysine helps treating shingles

L-lysine can also help treat and prevent shingles. This painful skin condition is caused by the varicella-zoster virus and is related to the herpes virus. Shingles cause a painful rash on the skin along with itching and blisters. Lysine can help cells repair themselves and thus help to treat the symptoms of shingles.

The effectiveness of lysine for shingles was shown in a study from 2016. The researchers found that lysine clusters were found in repaired skin cells and that lysine helps to prevent the virus spreading.6

Apart from taking L-lysine supplements to help ease the symptoms of shingles, you can also use Manuka and clover honey to treat an outbreak of shingles. If you are looking for more natural ways to treat shingles, then please read my article on essential oils for shingles.

L-lysine can boost athletic performance

Taken together with the amino acid L-arginine, L-lysine can help to improve athletic performance. Many athletes and gym enthusiasts take L-lysine and L-arginine together to boost growth hormones and help muscles recover quicker when working out.

The reason why L-lysine can boost athletic performance is that, according to the University of Maryland, lysine helps convert fatty acids into energy and is an essential amino acid for proper growth.7

The journal Current Medical Research and Opinion found that by taking 1200 mg of L-lysine and 1200 mg of L-arginine, human growth hormones were increased 8 times.8

However the University of Maryland Medical Center mentions that high levels of arginine may lower lysine levels in the body, so talk to your doctor before taking L-lysine and L-Arginine together.7

L-lysine can help to reduce acne outbreaks

L-lysine supplements could help to reduce the severity and frequency of acne outbreaks. Although no scientific studies have proven a direct link between the amino acid lysine and acne, many acne sufferers have found lysine useful.

The reason why lysine may help some people with acne is that it helps the skin repair itself. For example, the University of Maryland says that lysine plays an important role in the formation of collagen.7 Collagen is necessary to keep your skin supple and protect it from damage.

Lysine fights hair loss

Making sure that you have enough lysine in your diet is a natural way to help reduce hair loss. Healthy hair needs to have the right amount of amino acids to grow and be strong. In fact, a lysine deficiency has been linked to hair loss in women.

The journal Clinical and Experimental Dermatology found that women who have low levels of lysine suffer from hair shedding. The study showed that taking L-lysine and iron supplements helped to prevent and reverse the effects of thinning hair and hair loss.9

There are many other supplements that can help combat hair loss and thinning. Some of these are biotin, vitamin D, and saw palmetto. You can also try these natural methods to encourage hair growth, such as peppermint or rosemary essential oil, castor oil and onion juice.

Lysine helps reduce anxiety and stress

Stress and anxiety can affect us all in a negative way. Although we can’t always eliminate the root cause of stress, many herbal supplements can help us cope better. If you suffer from anxiety, L-lysine supplements can be a natural remedy for dealing with stress and chronic anxiety better.

A study from Japan found that combining L-lysine with the amino acid L-arginine is effective in reducing stress levels in otherwise healthy humans. The participants were given 2600 mg per day of both L-lysine and L-arginine. After one week, their base stress levels and feelings of anxiety were significantly reduced.10

Other studies have found that L-lysine supplements can help boost the effectiveness of antidepressants like diazepam.11

Lysine may reduce cholesterol

Using L-lysine along with other natural ingredients can help reduce cholesterol levels in your blood naturally.

The Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine reported on a case whereby a man with high cholesterol levels was treated using L-lysine supplements. When L-lysine was combined with garlic supplements, there was a drop of 25 points in cholesterol levels. The doctor said that lysine helps to prevent a buildup of cholesterol in the blood vessels.12

Making sure you have a healthy diet rich in L-lysine and fiber is a great way to reduce cholesterol and prevent developing heart disease.

Lysine may reduce some type 2 diabetes complications

Another way that L-lysine can help improve your health is that it can prevent some of the symptoms associated with type 2 diabetes. L-lysine has a positive effect on blood sugar levels and it works together with other enzymes to prevent harmful reactions (such as glycation) in the blood.

A study published in the journal Acta Medica Iranica found that L-lysine prevents glycation. The researchers concluded that L-lysine is “an effective therapeutic supplementation in type 2 diabetes and decreases the risk of infection in these patients.”13

L-lysine for Alzheimer’s prevention

There are some early studies suggesting that L-lysine could help prevent the development of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

Researchers have found that the HSV-1 virus is connected with dementia. This could be one of the contributory factors of Alzheimer’s disease. At present, there haven’t been enough clinical trials conducted to establish a definite link between L-lysine supplementation and preventing Alzheimer’s disease. However, the researchers concluded their study by saying that “adequate doses of lysine could prevent the development of Alzheimer’s disease.”14

The Side Effects of L-lysine

L-lysine supplements are considered safe to take and you should always keep within the recommended dose. You should also remember that lysine is present in many of the foods we eat and therefore, you may not have an L-lysine deficiency. However, it is very rare to overdose on L-lysine.

According to, the most common side effects of L-lysine are:

  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal pain

According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, L-lysine can also increase the absorption of calcium, so use caution when taking large amounts of calcium while supplementing with lysine. Also excessive doses may cause gallstones. If you have liver and kidney problems, or if your are pregnant or take any medications, you should consult with your doctor before taking L-lysine supplements.7

Where to Buy L-Lysine Supplements

L-lysine supplements are available at many health stores and can also be purchased online (such as this one).

Read my other related articles:
1. 13 Surprising Sources of Protein (Meat Free)
2. Whey Protein – The Way to Exceptional Health and Longevity

Article Sources:

  1. Drugs. Lysine.
  2. Drugs. Lysine.
  3. NutritionSelfData. Foods highest in lysine.
  4. Altern Med Rev. 2005 Jun;10(2):123-7.
  5. Antimicrob. Chemother. (1983) 12 (5): 489-496.
  6. JVI.01707-16
  7. UMM. Lysine.
  8. Cur Med Res Op. 1981 Mar;7(1):475-481.
  9. Clin Exp Dermatol. 2002 Jul;27(5):396-404.
  10. Biomed Res. 2007 Apr;28(2):85-90.
  11. Neurochem Res. 1995 Aug;20(8):931-7.
  12. J Orthomol Med. Vol. 11, 3rd Quarter 1996
  13. Acta Med Iran. 2016 Jan;54(1):24-31.
  14. Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat. 2010; 6: 707–710.

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