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Cure Cold Sores with Herbal and Natural Remedies

Updated on March 14, 2020

Cold sores—the kind that generally occur on the lips or outside the mouth—are a herpes simplex virus.

Some books on herbs and natural healing state that cold sores (and canker sores) are an indication of a disordered or irritated condition of the whole digestive tract. So it is not surprising that they don’t respond well to local applications. What they do seem to respond to are any of several natural treatments that, taken internally, work to heal and nourish the whole digestive tract.

I’ve cleared up several cases of cold sores—my own and other people’s—using the methods given here.


You might be surprised at the things that cause cold sores by irritating the digestive system. My nearly continual cold sores disappeared when I stopped drinking instant coffee (nasty stuff anyway). I switched to brewed coffee, and my cold sores went away.

Ask yourself if you are habitually consuming some food or beverage that is likely to contain digestive irritants, and try quitting it or substituting a more natural version of the same substance.

I haven’t been able to find any information about specific foods and beverages that may contain chemicals that are irritating to the digestive system—I only discovered that instant coffee was the problem by giving it up. Many people find, as they get older, that certain prepared foods wreak havoc on their digestion, and I suspect this is caused by food additives. If this is what is at the root of your trouble, it’s probably something you consume frequently, or even continuously.


Apple cider vinegar is healing to all soft tissues, and olive oil is a great for both healing and nourishing the digestive tract. Mix together about an ounce of each, and take twice daily. If the taste of the vinegar is too powerful, it would be fine to dilute it.

This method cured my cold sores when they came back (with a vengeance) some years after giving up instant coffee.


Slippery elm is one of the finest herbal healers, and it works both internally and externally. I use powdered slippery elm both internally and externally. The powdered form is the most convenient form, both for making hot and cold drinks and for making into a poultice for external use.

Slippery elm is, of course, taken internally for cold sores, and the slippery elm beverage can be made either hot or cold.

The cold version of the beverage, which Edgar Cayce called Elm Water, is made by adding a teaspoon of powdered slippery elm bark to a cup or two of water. The way to get the powder to dissolve in water is to let it stand on the surface of the water for about five minutes, and then stir it in. Alternatively, the powder can be mixed with a small amount of water to make a paste, which is then dissolved in the rest of the water.Drink this twice a day.

To make a hot tea of slippery elm powder, mix a teaspoon of the powdered bark with a little cold water to make a paste and then mix with a cup or two of boiling water.

Slippery elm has almost no flavor. You may want to add cinnamon or nutmeg to it, or some other spice, or substitute a favorite herbal tea for the hot water.

Slippery elm is so wonderfully healing to the digestive tract that it can even be used to cure stomach ulcers.


Mark Bricklin, in The Practical Encyclopedia of Natural Healing, tells us that probiotics are effective for curing cold sores. Once again, these work by healing the entire digestive system by correcting the overgrowth of “bad bacteria” that are disrupting its proper functioning.

First of all, Bricklin differentiates between cold sores and canker sores: Cold sores generally occur on the lips or outside the mouth and are a Herpes simplex infection; canker sores generally occur inside the mouth, on the insides of the cheeks or on the tongue.

Bricklin says that both types of sores respond dramatically to treatment with probiotics, a concentrated tablet form of the beneficial intestinal flora, some of which are found in yogurt. These organisms work to control the overgrowth of the “bad bacteria” in the intestinal tract.

Probiotics are available in the refrigerated section of the health-food store. Wal-Mart and some other stores sell it unrefrigerated, and this may be okay.

Store probiotics in the refrigerator after opening. While they will retain their potency for a period of time, unrefrigerated in a sealed container, they will rapidly die if unrefrigerated, once the container is opened.

Cure your cold sores by healing your digestive tract!


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    • livingwithquality profile image

      Melissa Combs 

      4 years ago from Raleigh, NC

      Thank you for sharing that info with me. I will definitely look into it. I have a 17 month old right now that is suffering from a severe case of Acid Reflux and Esophagitis and I have put him on a daily routine of Turmeric, Slippery Elm, & Probiotics. (as well as making his diet a priority) So, when I say that herbal remedies interest me, they do, tremendously, as I don't want to have to put him on pharmaceutical drugs and worse than that, become defendant on them. Scary stuff!

    • blueheron profile imageAUTHOR

      Sharon Vile 

      4 years ago from Odessa, MO

      I became interested in herbal medicine in the 1970s, when a co-worker introduced me to Jeanne Rose's book, Herbs and Things--still a worthwhile book, even if a little dated. My first cure came from that book. It said that oil of thyme would cure plantar warts, so I tried this on my warty foot, and, sure enough, it worked! No one was more surprised than me. Later I tried taking echinacea for toothache and this too worked. If you are looking for worthwhile books on herbs and herbal medicine, one of the bests is Maude Grieve's "A Modern Herbal." This book is also a bit dated, but still one of the best around. You can read it free online, but I've owned the two-volume book since long before the Internet.

    • livingwithquality profile image

      Melissa Combs 

      4 years ago from Raleigh, NC

      Loving your blogs! Herbal remedies are definitely something my husband are interested in learning more about, as we made the decision to stop relying on modern medicine, a little less than a year ago. Still learning though.


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