This essential amino acid can be found in large amounts in muscular tissue. A deficiency may lead to growth retardation which, in experimental animals, can be sustained for generations. Low lysine values weaken the immune response; supplements stimulate the immune response.
Normal lysine metabolism depends on a number of nutrients such as the vitamins B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B6 (pyrodoxin), vitamin C, glutamic acid, iron, and zinc. An overload of arginine lowers the absorption of lysine - and vice versa.
This competitive relationship has been used successfully in the treatment of cold sores (rashes in e.g. the face) because the herpes virus which causes them depends on arginine and therefore can be "starved" by means of lysine. A lysine supplement can fight (but not cure) outbreaks of cold sores, which can be caused by latent herpes infection.
This treatment is particularly effective when combined with a diet that is low in arginine. People with cold sores are well-advised to consume fish. Chicken, lamb, beef, milk, cheese, beans, and yeast also show positive effects. Most kinds of fruit and vegetables have a positive lysine/arginine-balance; but all grain-products and all nuts, including coconut and peanuts are most definitely unwanted. Chocolate is pure poison for someone who has cold sores, and the same goes for any product that contains gelatine.
When effective, this kind of biochemical control is advantageous when compared to the medically conventional treatment, which can have considerable side effects.
Lysine cannot cure cold sores. This is an important point. Even when you do not have an outbreak of cold sores, the herpes disease can is still in your body. The herpes virus is deposited in the nerves and the ganglions where it lies protected from the patrolling antibodies of the immune system. When the immune system is weakened there is a risk of herpes out-break. This is something which many women experience once a month when their immune systems are compromised by menstruation.
The outbreak appears on the skin around the lips with familiar blisters and pain, but the hotbed of virus activity is still the ganglions and the nerves where the virus is deposited.
Recent research has revealed that the well-known out-breaks, which we cannot fail to notice, are actually in many cases the least severe part of a much larger problem. The skin eruptions that appear to be relatively harmless are manifestations of a chronic, but largely obscure disease in the nervous system itself, often with a focus that is close to the brain and the spinal marrow.
Many scientists today believe that herpes virus is a possible hidden cause of a number of illnesses such as certain types of migraine, trigeminal neuralgia, Ménière's disease, inflammation of the mucous membrane in the mouth, facial paralysis, conjunctivitis, keratitis, cerebrospinal meningitis, inflammation of the bladder, hepatitis, brochitis, pneumonia, and some forms of cancer in the oral cavity and in the abdomen.
All this might seem exaggerated, but in a world where we to a large extent make evaluations from experiments with animals, it is food for thought that drops of pus from a herpes blister put into the eye of a rabbit will cause the rabbit to die of inflammation of the brain within a month!
Obviously, there are reasons why one should watch this shy virus and its hidden activities closely. Therefore, some scientists have suggested that not only should it be kept in check with lysine during out-breaks, it should be bombed with daily lysine supplements in order to keep it permanently weakened and on the defensive.
The question is: How good an idea is this really?
It depends on how large doses of supplements we are talking about. Too large doses - and there has been talk of supplements of up to 8 g. a day - will definitely put pressure on the arginine level in the tissue. In the long run, this can be alarming since we know that arginine also performs a number of vital functions. This kind of single treatment may take one out of the frying pan and into the fire. It might be wiser to combine moderate lysine supplements with a wide range of antiviral substances - many herbs may be relevant - and perhaps a homeopathic treatment. This will be a more balanced kind of therapy and this is probably to be preferred.
Osteoporosis - brittleness of the bones - is a disease that mainly attacks elderly people and especially women, even though young people have been known to get the disease. The disease has many causes. One of them appears to be lysine deficiency. Research has shown that these patients in general have low lysine values, and it has also been proved that lysine supplements as part of a wide-ranging treatment programme combined with a reorganization of one's life style can in some cases give positive results. Another possible cause of osteoporosis is lead poisoning.
The famous Nobel Prize winner Linus Pauling discovered that lysine combined with vitamin C prevents lipoprotein A from forming arteriosclerotic plaques, and this discovery may be of revolutionary importance to the treatment of cardiovascular disease.
Lysine improves concentration. Deficiency symptoms include tiredness and dizzines. It also promotes the catabolization of fatty acids in the body and increases the production of energy, promotes the production of some hormones, enzymes and antibodies. Vegetarians who mostly eat grain products such as wheat and maize which are low in lysine, often lack this amino acid. Many elderly people, particularly men, also suffer from lysine deficiency.
If you have trouble concentrating or are you are dizzy and nauseous you might suffer from a lysine deficiency. See a health professional if in doubt. Lysine also counteracts stomach cramps. Together with vitamin C, lysine is transformed into carnitine. Grain products contain little lysine and this can lead to lysine deficiency in people who practice some kinds of vegetarianism and veganism where mainly grain products are consumed.
Marasmus and kwashiorkor are protein-deficiency diseases that are known in the areas of the Third World. Food that contains lysine speeds up the cure of many of these deficiency conditions, and this has been seen in connection with the many hunger catastrophes. International experts are considering introducing lysine-enriched cereals in the parts of the world where the diet consist mainly of grain, and especially wheat.
Sedentary stress leads to loss of lysine, hard physical training does not. The American air force completed a study where a group of people went through 2 days of pilot training in a simulator. At the end of the period, the participants had lost considerable amounts of lysine besides other amino acids.
In international literature doses of 8 g. daily against out-breaks of herpes manifested as cold sores are mentioned. Even though it can be profitable to start out with a shock dose, low doses are often sufficient.
Many people will find that they can manage on a maintenance supply of 1½ - 3 g. a day. Linus Pauling recommended a dose of 500 mg. lysine a day with no less than 2 g. of vitamin C for the prevention of cardiovascular diseases.
During pregnancy or while breast-feeding: No more than 400 mg. a day.
To be taken together with vitamin C, vitamin B6, selenium, and zinc.