It’s the afternoon beverage of choice of your grandma.
It’s widely consumed across many parts of Asia.
It’s called green tea.
And you may have heard reports of green tea being effective against cold sores.
But is it really? I mean, there are sooo much BS about “eat this” or “drink that” for cold sores out there that it’s hard to tell whether this one is useful or a waste of your precious, precious time.
So let’s take a closer look, shall we.
As it turns out, green tea contains antioxidants called polyphenols.
And one of the most potent of these compounds that give green tea it’s antimicrobial properties is called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG for short).
The good news is that EGCG has indeed been shown to effectively mess with the lytic cycle of HSV-1. So in theory, the more EGCG you get into you, the more you’ll interfere with the nasty activity of the herpes virus.
More good news is that a single cup of green tea can contain up to ~100mg of EGCG (based on about 50 grams of brewed tea leaves). So the more green tea you drink, the more ECGC you get in you.
Not so fast. Let’s slow down a bit because there’s bad news too.
First of all, just because that cup of green tea contains EGCG doesn’t mean that it’s all going to be put to use by your body.
See the thing about EGCG is that’s it’s not the most stable of compounds. And the big question is just how much is left after your body has digested it all.
One study I read looked at the degradation of EGCG in simulated digestive conditions. In other words, it looked at just how much EGCG was left after it’s been put through conditions that simulate human digestion.
And as it turns out, that amount of EGCG can drop by up to 90%. That’s not a lot of EGCG left over for fighting off cold sores…
And to make matters worse, not all green teas are created equal.
Depending on the conditions in which the tea is grown and processed, that single cup of green tea can contain as little as 5 mg of EGCG.
And if your digestion has its way with it, that means there’s really not much left…
Really, it’s hard to tell just how much EGCG actually makes ends up coming into contact with the herpes virus coursing in and around your lips. And I have yet to find a study that hints at that.
But wait, were not done yet. There’s even more bad news.
As it turns out, once the herpes virus makes its way into your skin cells, there isn’t much that EGCG can do. Because those herpes killing properties have been shown to be quite ineffective in cells that are already infected with HSV-1.
What this means is that EGCG could be good for dealing with the herpes virus before it infects healthy cells, but once its made its way inside them and your cold sore has started, it probably won’t be very much help. It might help stop the spread of infection to even more cells, but it can’t help already infected cells.
So all in all, I wouldn’t bet on green tea being that much help, especially if you’ve already got a cold sore.
Then again you do get some EGCG in each cup (even if it might not be a lot) and it has been shown to mess with the herpes virus.
So who knows. If you drink some green tea every day, there is a possibility that it might help prevent cold sores.
THAT BEING SAID.
Even if drinking green tea is a long shot to help with cold sores, there are numerous overall health benefits that HAVE been demonstrated.
In fact, the catechins found in green tea have been linked to improvements in many health problems such as metabolic syndrome, obesity, type II diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
That combined with it’s beneficial effects on the immune system makes drinking green tea in no way a bad idea.
In fact, it’s probably a good , even a great idea.
Especially if you use it as a replacement beverage for juices, lattes or soft drinks. That way you automatically cut out a lot of health destroying sugar and crap from your diet.
Just don’t get the idea that drinking green tea is all you need to never get another outbreak again, because you’re probably gonna be disappointed.
Oh, and make sure that the green tea you do drink is of high quality. Think specialty shops over grocery stores. Usually the more expensive and “fancier”, the better.
Chris “the Cold Sore Killer” Mueller