Comprehensive Guide to L-Lysine

L-LysineDr. James Meschino DC, MS, ND
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General Features
Lysine is an essential amino acid, which implies that it cannot be synthesized by the body. All essential amino acids must be supplied by the diet or supplements in order to avoid a deficiency state.1 Lysine deficiency is rare in developed countries.
At supplemental levels of intake lysine interferes with replication of herpes viruses. A review of the research trials investigating the benefits of lysine supplementation for people with cold sores (herpes type I) or genital herpes (herpes type II) generally supports its use for these conditions.1,2
Herpes viruses tend to extract the amino acid arginine from the bloodstream in order to synthesize proteins they require. L-Lysine appears to block the uptake of arginine or substitutes for it, inhibiting the herpes virus from accessing the arginine it requires to thrive.2,3 Foods high in arginine content include chocolate, peanuts, seeds, almonds and other nuts. It is though that these foods should be restricted in patients with herpes viruses to help minimize or contain outbreaks.
Foods high in lysine include most vegetables, peas, beans, fish, turkey and chicken
Supplementation Studies and Clinical Applications
1. Herpes I and II
At the first sign of an outbreak, 1,000 mg L-Lysine, three times daily has been shown to help contain the episode. Taking 1,000-3,000 mg per day may also help to reduce the number of outbreaks as a prophylactic measure.5
2. Growth Hormones
L-lysine supplementation has been shown to increase the release of growth hormones and thus may be used to support lean mass and an anti-aging intervention by some individuals.
Dosage Ranges
1. Herpes Simplex: 1,000-3,000 mg per day is the usual daily dosage in the treatment or prevention of herpes I and II.
2. Growth Hormone Release: 1,000 – 2,000 mg taken just prior to bedtime, usually in conjunction with 1,000 – 2,000 mg of arginine pyroglutamate
Adverse Side Effects and Toxicity
At supplemental amounts (1,000-3,000 mg per day) no consistent adverse effects have been reported in humans. Abdominal cramps and transient diarrhea have been reported at doses of 15-40 gms per day.1 Note that during a herpes outbreak some patients my take more than 10 gm per day to block the replication of the virus.

Drug-Nutrient Interactions
There are no well known drug interactions with L-Lysine.
1. Flodin NW. The metabolic roles, pharmacology and toxicology of lysine. J Am Coll Nutr 1997;16:7-21.
2. Griffith R, DeLong D, Nelson J. Relation of arginine-lysine antagonism to herpes simplex growth in tissue culture. Chemotherapy 1981;27:209-13.
3. DiGiovanna JJ, Blank H. Failure of lysine in frequently recurrent herpes simplex infection. Arch Dermatology 1984;120:48-51.
4. Murray M, Pizzorno J. Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine. Revised 2nd Edition. Rocklin, CA: Prima Publishing, 1998. p. 521-2.
5. Griffith RS, Walsh DE, Myrmel KH. Success of L-lysine therapy in frequently recurrent herpes simplex infection. Treatment and prophylaxis. Dermatoliga 1987;175:183-90.
6. Healthnotes online. Healthnotes 2000, Inc: Lysine.
7. Klatz R. Grow young with HGH. New York: Harper Perrenial Publishers; 1997. p. 204-5.