It is important for normal muscle growth and turnover and is used to form carnitine, a substance found in most cells in the body. It also helps transport fats through the cells to be burned for energy.
Lysine is a building block of protein. It is an essential amino acid because your body can't produce it, so you have to get it from food.
L-lysine is the form of lysine that your body can use. It is found naturally in foods and is the type used in supplements.
Can protect and treat cold sores
Cold sores or fever blisters are symptoms of an infection, often appearing on the lip or corners of the mouth.
They appear as fluid-filled blisters that can cause discomfort, such as tingling, pain and burning. In addition, they may make you feel uncomfortable about your appearance.
Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1), which can hide in the spine. In times of stress or if your immune system is weakened, HSV-1 can trigger the development of a cold sore .
Lysine supplements can help prevent HSV-1 from replicating and reduce the duration of a cold sore. Lysine is thought to block another amino acid called arginine, which HSV-1 needs to multiply
One study found that a daily supplement of 1,000 mg of lysine caused fewer cold sores in 26 people who were prone to recurrent cold sores.
Interestingly, the study observed a reduction in cold sores when a person's blood lysine measurement was kept above 165 nmol/l. When blood levels fell below this level, cold sore outbreaks increased.
Another study of 30 people found that application of a cream with lysine, herbs, vitamins and zinc cleared cold sores in 40 of the people by day three and in 87 by day six.
Lysine may play a role in reducing anxiety
One study found that it blocked receptors involved in the stress response. Researchers observed that rats treated with lysine had reduced rates of stress-induced loose bowel movements.
A one-week study of 50 healthy people noted that supplementing with 2.64 grams of lysine and arginine reduced stress-induced anxiety and lowered levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
Similarly, adding 4.2 grams of lysine per kilogram (2.2 pounds) of wheat flour in disadvantaged villages in Syria helped reduce anxiety scores in males with very high stress levels.
After three months, consumption of lysine-enriched flour also helped reduce cortisol levels in women (8 Reliable Source).
Lysine may also be able to help people with schizophrenia, a mental disorder that disrupts an individual's perception of the outside world, often resulting in an inability to comprehend reality.
Although research is still in its early stages, lysine may have the potential to improve symptoms of schizophrenia in combination with prescribed medications.
May Improve Calcium Absorption and Retention
Lysine may help your body retain calcium.
Lysine is believed to increase calcium absorption in the intestines and help the kidneys retain the mineral.
A study of 30 women, 15 healthy and 15 with osteoporosis, found that supplementing with calcium and lysine reduced calcium loss in the urine.
Women who were given 3 grams of calcium alone had a progressive increase in urinary calcium. However, women who also received 400 mg of lysine lost less calcium through the urine.
Lysine appears to protect bones and may also play a role in controlling calcium transport in the body.
For example, it has been shown to prevent calcium buildup in blood vessels in rats. This type of buildup is a risk factor for heart disease.
In addition, a test tube study found that cells grown without lysine had increased movement of calcium out of the cell. This increase did not occur in cells that had lysine present.
May promote wound healing by helping to create collagen
Lysine can improve wound healing in your body.
In animal tissue, lysine becomes more active at the site of a wound and helps speed up the repair process.
Lysine is necessary for the formation of collagen, a protein that acts as a scaffold and helps support and give structure to skin and bone.
Lysine itself can also act as a binding agent, thereby increasing the number of new cells in a wound. It may also promote the formation of new blood vessels.
In one animal study, a combination of lysine and the amino acid arginine was able to speed up and improve the healing process of fractures.
In another study of 40 rabbits, it was found that 21 mg per pound (47 mg per kg) body weight of lysine and 23 mg per pound (50 mg per kg) body weight of arginine significantly improved blood flow and overall bone healing .
In fact, rabbits that received lysine and arginine had a reduced healing time of 2 weeks compared to the control group.
Wound healing is a complex process that requires several minerals, vitamins and other factors. Lysine seems to play an invaluable role and without adequate lysine, wound healing is compromised.
To date, studies have only looked at oral supplements on wound healing and it is not known if direct application to wounds can be effective.
However, one study found that applying a lysine-containing gel to an ulcer wound resulted in reduced infection and faster healing time than when no gel was used.