What is Lysine?
L-Lysine is the biologically active form of lysine, an essential α-amino acid that the body needs to make proteins and sustain muscle growth. Converting l-lysine into its hydrochloride salt form (L-Lysine HCl) improves its water solubility. The body can’t synthesize l-lysine and relies on dietary sources to obtain it. L-Lysine aids in the production of carnitine, a necessary component to metabolize fatty acids. It also moves fats across cells for the body to burn as energy. The body can use l-lysine to improve the absorption of other essential nutrients.
Potential Lysine Benefits
Lysine for Cold Sores
Cold sores are the result of herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1). These small blisters and sores burn, and the first outbreak may coincide with a sore throat and fever. Roughly two-thirds of people under 50 worldwide have HSV-1. In the US, researchers believe 47.8% of individuals between the ages of 14 and 49 have it. Cold sores often heal within ten days; however, the herpes virus lies dormant in the trigeminal ganglion until stress or a weakened immune system cause it to flare again. Lysine supplements help reduce the duration of cold sores by blocking arginine, an amino acid that HSV-1 needs to replicate and multiply. One study found lysine supplements were particularly effective for individuals prone to cold sore breakouts.
Lysine for Canker Sores
Canker sores are small ulcers found exclusively inside the mouth. They aren’t contagious or the result of a virus. Individuals can experience a single canker sore or many at once. The causes of canker sores aren’t well understood, but many conditions have a strong association with the painful ulcers. These include:
- Eating or drinking acidic foods and beverages
- Gluten sensitivity
- Poor nutrition
- A weakened immune system prior to an illness
- Trauma from biting the inner mouth or dental
Lysine for Stress
Lysine supplements may help individuals cope with stress and reduce feelings of unease. Lysine blocks serotonin receptors that trigger stress responses and tension-induced gastrointestinal distress. When paired with arginine, it also helps reduce the stress hormone cortisol and the symptoms caused by it. Studies also found that lysine supplements improve stress scores in both men and women, as well as individuals experiencing intense stress.
Lysine Supplements and Bone Health
Lysine improves calcium absorption, which may support healthy bones. Lysine also helps the digestive tract absorb more calcium while helping kidneys sustain calcium. A small study found that women who took calcium with lysine supplements lost less calcium through excretion than those taking calcium supplements alone.
Other Potential Lysine Benefits
Lysine activity increases at wound sites, and the body needs lysine to make collagen. Lysine may promote wound healing by increasing collagen production to accelerate the repair process. Lysine also plays a role in maintaining and sustaining healthy hair. Inadequate iron and ferritin levels can cause excessive hair shedding. One study found a combination of lysine and iron supplements helped reduce hair shedding in women. Another study noted that lysine helped restore depleted iron levels and stimulated hair regrowth.
Potential Lysine Side Effects
Lysine is generally safe for most individuals. Excessive doses can cause gastrointestinal side effects like nausea, stomach cramping, and diarrhea.
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