By Monica Wilde with Alison Jane Reid
Introducing Monica Wilde – our exciting new natural health expert from Scotland. Monica runs Napiers the Herbalists, a natural health and skin care company that was founded in 1860. She specialises in herbal research and is a passionate advocate for the health benefits of plants, micronutrients and super nutrition.
Napiers was started by the Victorian botanist, Duncan Napier to “provide an affordable choice of natural medicine for all people,” and this is their principle focus today. After a childhood in Kenya, having lived all over the world and brought up three children single-handedly, Monica now lives in Scotland on an organic croft.
Q. Every winter I get cold sores. I hate them. You can always see them under my lipstick because they weep, get crusty and they get really, really sore, even with the cream from the chemist. Why do I always get them and can herbs help?
A. Cold sores are caused by a virus called herpes simplex. Most of us get infected during childhood and it lives dormant in our bodies. When it is reactivated it shows up as a cold sore, often in the same place, particularly if we are run down, stressed or not eating properly.
Melissa officinalis (Lemon Balm) is my herb of choice for treating cold sores as it is active against the herpes virus family. It is fantastic both for cold sores (herpes simplex) and for shingles (herpes zoster). In the winter I always have a little bottle of blended melissa essential oil in my handbag because, if you put it onto the usual place that cold sores break out, at the very first tingle, it will often stop the cold sore from developing at all. This is useful to know because quite a few other essential oils will help a cold sore to dry up quicker (tea tree oil, clove oil and lavender oil are good examples) but only melissa oil works so fast. Apply it with a cotton bud to minimise the risk of spreading the infection… and no kissing!
If you get cold sores regularly you need a deeper approach. Firstly, take melissa as a tea, drinking three cups a day for a week or two. True to its common name of ‘lemon balm’, it has a wonderful delicate lemon taste that you will come to love! You can get the dried leaf from any good herbalist. If you like the taste of liquorice, add that to your tea as well. Lab tests on liquorice root (not the sweeties though!) have shown that it can irreversibly inactivate the herpes simplex virus. Liquorice tea is available in most supermarkets and health food shops.
The other thing to look at is your general health. If you have a low or weakened immune system and seem to catch every cough, cold and flu that is going around, you will have more cold sore outbreaks. In that case, you need to examine your diet. Your body needs nutrients to stay healthy. It’s as simple as that! If you don’t eat enough fresh (and ideally raw) fruit and veg, are dieting too much, smoking or living on junk food or processed foods, you are denying your body the essential nutrition it needs and the first place it will show is your skin.
As well as melissa, taking a course of good quality echinacea for two weeks will help to boost your immunity especially if you are prone to colds and flu. If stress and fatigue triggers infections you could also try rhodiola root and take up yoga or meditation to learn how to handle stress longer term. Both herbs are available as licensed herbal medicines. Elderberry syrup is also a pleasant antiviral and adding fresh garlic to every meal helps enormously too. This deeper approach will also work well to reduce genital herpes symptoms. I will look at this topic in more depth in a future case note.
To buy cold sore remedies, recommended by Monica Wilde of Napiers, click on the links below. By clicking on those links, EVERY Ethical Hedonist reader will get a special 10% discount at the checkout. Please type in the code ETHICALHED into the coupon code box.
And to find out more about Napiers, Monica and what they believe in, take a look at these: