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The Real Cause of Cold Sores


Commonly called by the more socially acceptable terms ‘Cold Sores’, or ‘Fever Blisters’, the painful and contagious blisters and eruptions that occur on and around the oral and facial area are caused by a virus the result of the action of the herpes simplex virus, commonly known as ‘herpes’.

Once the herpes virus (also known as ‘HSV’) is in the body, it never leaves.  While it can either remain dormant, and not cause outbreaks for many years, it can easily ‘re-awaken’, leading to an outbreak.  But the truth is that there is no cure for the herpes virus, or the cold sore outbreaks it can cause.

In fact, there are 8 known variants of the herpes virus, but 2 of these are most embarrassing, painful and disruptive to people’s lives: HSV type 1 (HSV-1) is mostly responsible for causing oral herpes outbreaks, which are frequently called ‘cold sores’ or ‘fever blisters’, and HSV type 2 (HSV-2) is mostly responsible for causing herpes outbreaks in the genital region.

The truth is that either HSV-1 or HSV-2 can infect and cause outbreaks in either area, and it is becoming more frequent that people are ‘cross-contaminating’ one variant to other parts of the body through direct contact, sexual activity and not taking care to avoid transferring the contagious virus from one part of the body to another.

Since the HSV-1 virus is mostly transmitted through direct contact, kissing and sexual activity, for many decades, ‘having herpes’ was considered a sign of being sexually promiscuous, so more socially acceptable names, like ‘Cold Sores’, were coined.

The Numbers

But let’s look at some numbers and then we’ll talk about the real cause of cold sore and herpes outbreaks.

In January of 2017, the World Health Organization (WHO) released a report about cold sores and the herpes simplex virus that was rather shocking.

WHO reported that 67% of all people worldwide have the HSV-1 infection, and more than 11% have the HSV-2 virus.

While not everyone who has the HSV virus develops outbreaks (and the majority of people with an HSV infection are not even aware they are infected), some 30% to 50% do experience recurring outbreaks that can occur many times every year.  In the US alone, that would mean that between 66 million and over 110 million people in the United States carry the herpes virus.

They also reported, and it has been known for decades, that people with the HSV virus can transmit this highly infectious and contagious virus to others even when they do not have an active outbreak.  This is called ‘asymptomatic transmission’.

In all cases, the herpes virus is transmitted through a process called ‘shedding’, where the virus is passed from person to person either directly (in the case of an active contagious outbreak), or through the shedding of skin cells which contain the virus even when there is no active or visible outbreak.

In reality, herpes is transmitted as much or more by ‘viral shedding’ than it is by direct sexual contact.

While there is NO CURE for the herpes virus, and it stays in the body throughout your life, avoiding activities that trigger outbreaks, and learning the truth about the real cause of cold sore and herpes outbreaks can make a huge difference and positive impact.

The Real Cause of Cold Sore and Herpes Outbreaks

A virus is a small infectious agent that can replicate (reproduce) only inside the living cells of an organism, like a human being.

How Viruses Spread

Although viruses do have genes, they do not have a cellular structure, which is the basic unit of life.  Viruses also do not have their own metabolism which is why they must attach to and get inside a host cell to reproduce and make new ‘baby’ viruses.

This is an extremely important point:

Viruses cannot reproduce by themselves.  They must attach to a host cell, insert their viral DNA or RNA into the host cell, and use the host cell’s reproductive mechanisms to act as an incubator.  Viral DNA and RNA ‘trick’ the host cell into reproducing the virus.

If a virus particle cannot attach to a host cell in the first place, it cannot insert its virus DNA or RNA, and thus it cannot reproduce.

Viruses that cannot attach to host cells are thus more vulnerable to the human immune system, which can then act more effectively to eliminate the attacking virus or reduce its potential to reproduce.

The process of a virus attaching to a host cell, so it can insert its DNA or RNA into the host cell is called ‘virus fusion’, or ‘virus attachment’.

Interfering with the ability of a virus to attach to a host cell, so it is not able to reproduce, is referred to as ‘virus attachment regulation’.

Virus fusion inhibition refers to the ability of a substance to interfere with and thus inhibit the ability of the virus to complete attachment to its target host cell.

The key to remember is this:

No Virus Attachment = No Virus Reproduction!


Many attempts have been explored to achieve virus attachment inhibition with various virus vaccines, but none have succeeded to date.

The Life Cycle of Viruses

The ‘holy grail’ in virus science (virology) is to find a way to stop viruses from reproducing.  There are two possibilities: interfere with the ability of the virus to complete its reproductive cycle once it has already infected a host cell or inhibit the ability of the virus to attach to and penetrate the host cell in the first place.  Clearly, the earlier in the virus reproduction cycle it can be inhibited, the better.

It’s important to note that virus replication (completion of the entire virus reproduction life cycle) can happen quickly, and result in the rapid creation of new virus particles; literally millions of newly formed virus particles can be reproduced in a very short time.

Thus, the potential for infection (attachment) of new host cells is quite substantial.  If the life cycle process is prevented, interrupted or interfered with, so that the viruses cannot initially attach to a target host cell, or cannot successfully complete their replication inside the host cell, or are prevented from being assembled or released, the virus life cycle may be cut short.

Research into many possible approaches to interfere with the virus life cycle are being researched, including prescription drugs, attempts to create a vaccine which could prevent virus fusion, and the use of scientifically tested supplements to inhibit virus attachment are all key objectives of virus medicine and research.

Given that the herpes viruses remain in the body forever, approaches that assist in keeping viruses dormant are also being developed, and may be assisted by dietary, physical or life-style changes, and by using specific supplements that have been shown to have a damping effect on some stage of the virus life cycle.


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