Lysine is an amino acid that has shown to be effective against Herpes and is known as a home remedy for the disease. It is also often added to other substances to improve or speed up their absorption.
Lysine is an essential amino acid, meaning that the body cannot synthesize lysine by itself and must therefore rely on external sources to get it. The body requires approximately 1 to 1.5 grams of lysine a day. Foods from animal sources such as meat, fish, milk and eggs have the highest content of lysine. Other good sources include peas and walnuts.
In general, plant-based foods contain only relatively small amounts of lysine. The biological value of almost all plant proteins can thus be improved by taking lysine (please see biological value).
Together with methionine, lysine plays an important role in the production of carnitine. A lysine deficiency may also lead to a deficit in carnitine. Carnitine, in turn, is an important element in converting fatty acids into energy.
Effects of Lysine
Fewer recurrences of herpes
Lysine has been used to treat and prevent herpes. Following several studies that showed promising results using lysine against the herpes simplex virus, 2 3, a US, randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind crossover study conducted in 1984 was groundbreaking. Forty-one patients with recurring herpes participated in the study.
The group that received 1,248 mg lysine-monohydrochloride per day saw a significant reduction in the recurrence of the infection compared to the placebo group. A smaller dose of 624 mg lysine-monohydrochloride per day did not prove to be effective. Neither of these two dosages showed a reduction in the duration of the infection. 4
Higher dosages help heal herpes infections faster
Through higher dosages, the number and severity of herpes outbreaks can be reduced. In a placebo-controlled, double-blind study conducted by the University of Indiana in Indianapolis, USA, a group of 52 study participants were treated with lysine or a placebo.
The lysine was administered in a dose of 3 grams per day over a period of six months. The result was that the patients receiving the lysine, on average, saw a reduction of 2.5 in the number of herpes outbreaks. Additionally, the infections healed faster than those experienced by the placebo group.5
If you would like to take supplemental arginine but have active herpes, you should also take supplemental lysine. Arginine has a worsening effect on herpes infections. Lysine, on the other hand, can block the effects of arginine. In herpes cases, it is thus important that the lysine levels are higher than those of arginine.
Preventative benefits against osteoporosis
Lysine’s ability to promote absorption of calcium may also help protect against bone loss associated with osteoporosis.
A study conducted by the University of Maryland in the US found that lysine, in combination with arginine, increases the function of bone-building cells (osteoblasts) as well as the production of collagen. This fosters bone density and can help protect against osteoporosis. 6
Lysine can thus promote the addition of calcium and vitamin D for the prevention of bone loss.
Lysine against anxiety
There are some early successes, but no therapy recommendations yet, regarding lysine’s positive effects on reducing anxiety and improving mood.
In 2007, a study confirmed that lysine can help reduce general as well as stress-induced anxiety in both men and women. Male participants also evidenced a reduction in the level of the hormone cortisol and the protein chromogranin A. Both are secretory markers that affect the sympathetic nervous system (SNS). The SNS activates the fight or flight response depending on external stimuli. 7
Few side effects even with high dosages
Lysine, like all other amino acids, is generally recognized as well-tolerated. No contraindications, side effects, or drug interactions are known. Of course, theoretically, undesired effects cannot be ruled out. However, even in long-term studies in which 8 grams of lysine were administered daily, none have surfaced.
- Meenu, S., et al., “Medicinal uses of L-Lysine: Past and future”, Int. J. Res. Pharm. Sci., 2(4), 2011, S. 637 – 642. ↩
- Griffith, R. S., et al., “A multicentered study of lysine therapy in Herpes simplex infection”, Dermatologica,156(5), 1978, S. 257 – 67. ↩
- Milman, N., et al., “Lysine prophylaxis in recurrent herpes simplex labialis: a double-blind, controlled crossover study”, Acta. Derm. Venereol., 60(1), 1980, S. 85 – 87. ↩
- McCune, M. A., et al., “Treatment of recurrent herpes simplex infections with L-lysine monohydrochloride”, Cutis. 1984 Oct;34(4), pp. 366 – 73 ↩
- Griffith, R. S., et al., “Success of L-lysine therapy in frequently recurrent herpes simplex infection – Treatment and prophylaxis”, Dermatologica,175(4), 1987, pp. 183 – 90. ↩
- Fini, M., et al., “Effect of L-lysine and L-arginine on primary osteoblast cultures from normal and osteopenic rats”, Biomed. Pharmcother., 55(4), 2001, S. 213 – 220. ↩
- Smriga, M., et al., “Oral treatment with L-lysine and L-arginine reduces anxiety and basal cortisol levels in healthy humans”, Biomed Res, 28(2), 2007, S. 85 – 90. ↩