How Effective Is Lysine for Canker Sores?

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  • Written By: Marlene de Wilde
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Images By: Leungchopan, Steve Silver Smith, Bioreg Images
  • Last Modified Date: 01 April 2020
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Lysine is often promoted as one of the treatments for canker sores but there is little evidence to show that lysine for canker sores is effective for all types. This amino acid is thought to have antiviral properties which, if the canker sore has been caused by a virus, may be a treatment option. However, the exact causes of canker sores are unknown but they are thought to be attributable to several factors. When the cause is not viral, then lysine will probably be ineffective.

One strain of the herpes virus may be responsible for canker sore outbreaks. The outbreak usually begins with a clump of small blisters which develop the open, white-ringed ulcer typical of canker sores. Using lysine for canker sores in this case is thought to discourage the growth of the virus. Lysine can be found in foods like meat and other animal proteins but there are also lysine supplements. This type of canker sore can also be managed through making dietary changes such as reducing foods high in the amino acid arginine, which include foods such as grains, seeds, beans, nuts and chocolate.


The use of toothpastes containing sodium lauryl sulphate, SLS, is thought to contribute in a big way to the fact canker sores affect as many as 50% of the population. SLS is a caustic detergent used in the majority of commercial toothpastes, shampoos, mouthwashes and soaps because it creates a lather and so these products are seen to be more effective. While it is not known exactly why the use of toothpastes containing SLS encourages canker sores in some people, it has been reported by many sufferers that when they have switched to an SLS-free product, the problem disappears.

Other causes of canker sores include diet, stress and lifestyle choices such as smoking and drinking alcohol. In these cases, the use of lysine for canker sores will probably not be as effective as making lifestyle changes. Acidic foods such as citrus fruit, low levels of vitamin B12 or foliate and hormone changes have also been implicated in the formation of mouth ulcers.

For many people, canker sores are a recurrent condition which can cause a lot of pain and discomfort leading to the inability to eat or sleep. Successful home remedies include rinsing with water and salt, baking soda or hydrogen peroxide, taking care not to swallow the mixture. Vitamin supplements, especially vitamin B, zinc, apple cider vinegar and alum are other treatments which have found favor with sufferers. The use of lysine for canker sores has been reported as effective by relatively few sufferers compared to the number of favorable reports of other treatments. Different treatments may work for sores caused by different underlying conditions.



Discuss this Article

Post 3

@fify-- I'm not a doctor but I've used lysine for quite a few years. You're right in the sense that there are no studies showing that lysine works for canker sores. But it might work if the canker sore is caused by a lysine deficiency. It's not really possible to know this though.

I think that those with recurrent and severe canker sores could try lysine and observe the effects. If it works, great. But it might not, so it should not come as a surprise. Also, since lysine is naturally found in foods, it's not a good idea to take a large amount in supplement form. Lysine does have side effects and it can cause problems if too much is taken. Those who eat many lysine rich foods, should take a lower dose. It's probably a good idea to ask a doctor about this for the best advice.

Post 2

@fify-- But lysine is an essential amino acid and it strengthens the immune system, so I'm sure it will be beneficial for canker sores. Even if I'm wrong, lysine is not harmful, so there is nothing to lose. It's worth a try. I'm planning on buying lysine tomorrow.

Post 1

A far as I know, canker sores have nothing to do with herpes sores and lysine is effective for the latter, not the former. Like the article said, the cause of canker sores is not known. My doctor said that they may be due to viruses, bacteria or a vitamin deficiency. But they're harmless and go away on their own. So a supplement or medication is not necessary. And even if they are used, they're probably not going to work.

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