Once upon a time, cold sores were just a cause for cosmetic concern. However, scientists are uncovering fascinating facts about these highly-contagious viruses. Studies have found that the root cause of cold sores, a strain of herpes known as HSV1, may be the precursor to Alzheimer’s disease.
If you’ve had a cold sore flare up in the past, there is no need to be alarmed just yet. There are a number of steps you can take to help remedy this transgression from cold sore to dementia. We will discuss the connection between herpes and Alzheimer’s disease. Additionally, we will talk about how you can combat the growth of this debilitating condition by using natural supplements such as turmeric curcumin to hinder the decline of grey matter in the brain.
The Connection Between Cold Sores and Herpes
When people first hear the word “herpes,” they automatically think of the sexually transmitted infection. However, that is generally the HSV-2 type, which is found on the genitals. Cold sores are a relative of HSV-2 known as herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1). The distinct difference between the two? As anyone with a cold sore would know, HSV-1 occurs on the face and mouth.
In most skin conditions where blisters or rashes pop up (such as cold sores), there is usually an inflammation going on somewhere inside your system. In the case of cold sores, that’s HSV-1 hard at work.
HSV-1 and Its Effect on the Nervous System
Studies have confirmed that this virus attacks the peripheral nervous system (PNS). This is critical, especially when attempting to connect the dots between cold sores and Alzheimer’s disease. The PNS consists of all the nerves that exist outside of the central nervous system (CNS).
The main function of the PNS is to be the highway between the CNS and your limbs, organs, and skin. Thanks to the PNS, both the brain and spinal cord may send and get messages from other parts of the body.
There are two main areas of the PNS. They are the somatic nervous system (SNS) and the autonomic nervous system (ANS). Both play a pivotal role in many of our everyday functions.
Somatic Nervous System (SNS)
The SNS is a communication board for neurons. Sensory neurons carry messages from nerves to the CNS. This is where our brain and spinal cord interpret information. Motor neurons deliver messages from the brain and spinal cord to muscle fibers located throughout the body. This is what causes us to partake in physical actions.
Autonomic Nervous System (ANS)
The ANS regulates involuntary functions including breathing, digestion, and heartbeat. There are two parts of the ANS. One is the sympathetic system. This is where our body gets our fight-or-flight instincts. It allows our body to react quickly to potentially dangerous situations. The other part of the ANS is the parasympathetic system. Its primary function is to bring balance back to the system once the potential threat has passed. This includes slowing down the heart rate and breathing shallow breaths.
The Dangers of HSV-1 and the Brain
As many may remember from health class, herpes is an incurable condition. It can lay dormant in the system. However, in moments of stress, lack of sleep, or hormonal imbalances, the virus may pop back up.
This is also true of HSV-1 that has reached the brain. Once it has infected the area, the brain can also have flare-ups.
While our skin is resilient and shows little damage after a cold sore outbreak, the brain is a much more fragile organism. When HSV-1 flare-ups happen in the brain, it can cause permanent damage. Anytime an area of the brain is no longer functioning properly, it is more susceptible to dementia, and ultimately, Alzheimer’s disease.
Suppressing Herpes May Slow Down Alzheimer’s Disease
According to neurologist and brain health pioneer David Perlmutter, MD, the key to fighting off the onset of Alzheimer’s disease may to be suppress HSV-1. Dr. Perlmutter reached this conclusion as he was researching what many thought was the number one cause of Alzheimer’s disease, a protein called beta-amyloid.
Traditionally, studies exhibited that there was a direct link between beta-amyloid and cognitive impairment. For over three decades, neurologists worked on getting rid of the protein to eliminate the neurodegenerative disease.
However, Dr. Perlmutter grew wary of this theory following a 2010 study published in PLOS One that found that the beta-amyloid protein actually had antimicrobial functions, destroying potentially harmful bacteria in the brain.
This got the neurologist thinking. He came to the realization that most people probably have HSV-1 in some form or another. However, that doesn’t mean everyone in this world will get Alzheimer’s disease.
With that knowledge, Dr. Perlmutter realized that genetics played a role as well. He theorized if you have a history of Alzheimer’s in your family, you yourself are far more susceptible. Furthermore, if you yourself have a history of cold sores, then you are at an increased risk of developing the condition. The doctor came to this conclusion after reading a study that found that adults that have HSV-1 are at a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Ironically enough, it was also discovered that the once demonized beta-amyloid protein helped keep HSV-1 at bay. When beta-amyloid plaques were split open, scientists found that 70% of the DNA inside of the HSV-1 virus was present. Therefore, these proteins would keep HSV-1 from attacking the brain.
How to Suppress HSV-1
Taking Dr. Perlmutter’s theories further, he suggests that your best chance in fighting off Alzheimer’s disease is to suppress the herpes virus.
From there, you should take supplements geared toward improving cognitive function. After all, Alzheimer’s disease can’t grow in an area that is being stimulated, nourished, or growing.
There are a number of supplements on this list. While they all do their share in improving the overall health of your brain, Dr. Perlmutter suggests taking these all in unison. They complement one another not only by improving their absorption into the system, but also by covering areas of improvement that the other supplements can’t.
Here is what Dr. Perlmutter suggests:
After testing positive for HSV-1, the neurologist suggests taking a prescription such as Valtrex immediately. If you are uncomfortable with prescription medications there are some holistic approaches you may take. However, they may not be as effective as taking a strong antiviral treatment such as Valtrex.
With that being said, you may try intravenous treatments of antioxidants such as Vitamin C or glutathione. These supplements work by increasing your body’s resistance to disease and stress. If these therapies don’t work, you should then look into Valtrex.
Lysine is one of the essential amino acids. Studies have shown that lysine is effective in fighting off frequent cold sores that are caused by HSV-1. Additionally, lysine can also fight off outbreaks of HSV-1 in the brain as well. This is because lysine works against arginine. Arginine is an amino acid that HSV-1 feeds off to spawn reproduction of virus cells.
This is an essential vitamin. Studies have found that Vitamin D can cause HSV-1 to remain dormant. Seeing as Vitamin D is not naturally found in food, you should get tested each year for a nutrient deficiency. This is especially true if you are HSV-1 positive.
Turmeric is such a powerful supplement much in thanks to its unique chemical compound, curcumin. Curcumin inhibits HSV-1 activity. What also makes turmeric such an effective supplement is that it improves gut health, blood circulation, and can improve skin and hair. With its multitude of benefits, turmeric is a great multi-use supplement for optimal brain health.
Eliminate Cold Sores, Fight Alzheimer’s Disease
Everyone has a tendency to treat cold sores like an afterthought. We just throw on some Blistex and move on with our day. However, we should be taking these outbreaks a bit more seriously.
If cold sores continue to pop up, get tested for HSV-1. If you test positive, start taking supplements that can help improve your brain health and keep the herpes virus at bay. Otherwise, you are running a risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Do you take any of the above-mentioned supplements and have you noticed any improvements in your health? Let us know in the comments section below!