Did you know that there are over 70 viruses in the herpes family, the most common being the Herpes Simplex Virus, Type 1 (HSV-1) which causes cold sores? The virus, once contracted, remains in our system for life and at present there is no known cure. It hides in the nervous tissue escaping detection by the immune system. The exact mechanism that causes the herpes virus to change from the latent stage into an active infection is unknown. Certain types of stress to the immune system – such as illness, injury, emotional upset, poor nutrition, high exposure to sunlight or even menstruation – often provoke an outbreak. Depending on the strength of the immune system, Herpes Simplex may continue to recur throughout life: HSV-1 has a recurrence rate of 14 percent. A cold sore starts out as a small bubble-like lesion, which over 24 hours reaches a blister stage. There is a tingling or itching in the affected area, which indicates a lesion is beginning to form. A cold sore will usually last for a period of ten days. Natural remedies can be used in combating the virus and in helping to ease its sometimes painful symptoms. I always use Echinaforce, the organic fresh herb extract created by Alfred Vogel, which possesses both antiviral and antibacterial properties and so makes a very useful support remedy by boosting the immune system. Bio-Propolis is made from a unique patented propolis extract collected from a special variety of Canadian Poplar Trees. It contains a specific spectrum of active ingredients, termed ACF – Active Complex of Flavonoids. As research has shown, when applied externally to a cold sore five times a day, it shortens the healing time. Vitamin C, E & B Complex and zinc will help the immune function and enable a sufferer to cope better with stress. There is a natural fruit vitamin C tablet available that is easily absorbed and low in acid. Avoid foods that stress the immune system such as sugar, processed foods or stimulants including coffee, chocolate and cola drinks. It helps to eliminate highly acidic substances, such as citrus fruit, vinegar, tomatoes and food high in sodium (salt). Meat and dairy products are high in arginine and should be kept to a minimum during outbreaks.