Traditional Chinese Medicine

Traditional Chinese Medicine for Cold Sores
Not every alternative remedy for cold sores has to come from someone you barely know whose grandmother did it that way. Practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) have handed down treatments for cold sores from master to apprentice for thousands of years. TCM for cold sores consists primarily of one or more herbal components, but the herbal components are often complemented by acupuncture or acupressure sessions.

Despite their name, cold sores are traditionally associated with heat: the hot sensation they produce, internal heat imbalance and fever brought on through illness. TCM for cold sores is based on the fact that they are actually heat sores rather than cold sores. The sores manifest as a result of heat that builds up and travels along the stomach and lung meridians. The practice of Chinese medicine is to treat the sores by counteracting this heat: both the internal heat running along the meridians and the heat on the surface of the cold sore itself. This is done through the topical application of herbs, the ingestion of herbal teas and eating beneficial foods.

It is important to note that while TCM is completely effective against cold sores for some individuals, for others the treatment is meant merely to reduce the severity of cold sores and the frequency of outbreaks. In addition, specific treatment may vary from individual-to-individual and by the nature of the outbreak.

Topical Treatment

TCM for cold sores includes several topical treatments. One of the most common of these treatments is a cool cotton compress soaked in purslane. To prepare the compress, soak 30 grams dry purslane in cool water for at least 20 minutes. Dip the cotton cloth into the infusion, and squeeze out excess moisture. Hold the compress lightly against the cold sores for 20 minutes three times per day.

Another topical treatment calls for coptis root or a coptis root formulation such as Huang Lian Jie Du Tang. The herb or herbal mixture should be powdered. To apply, simply wet a fingertip, dab into the powder and dab the moistened powder onto the sores up to three or more times per day.

Ingestible Treatment
Many traditional Chinese medicine treatments for cold sores include herbs or foods to be ingested. It is recommended to increase the intake of several foods that are known for their ability to reduce heat along the meridians. These foods include watermelon and other melons, water chestnuts, celery, cucumbers and mung beans.

To reduce the frequency of outbreaks, it is recommended to drink an herbal tea twice per week. The herbal tea should be prepared from the following ingredients:
• 30 grams isatis root
• 30 grams forsythia
• 30 grams coix seed
• 12 grams gromwell root

Although it is not directly a part of traditional Chinese medicine, some practitioners suggest a Japanese variant that calls for the addition of 2 to 5 grams wu zhu yu powder to the tea.

Some practitioners also recommend taking a mixture of reishi and astragalus. Reishi is a mushroom that is available in powder or pill form. It can often be found with the astragalus root premixed. 600 grams of this mixture should be ingested twice per day.