The cold sore virus – for a long time it was largely thought to simply result in an unsightly, albeit painful, inconvenience. But now the public are at last beginning to become better educated about the true extent and potential implications of the virus.

Now, and partly because of media coverage of tragic cases, people are beginning to understand that in young children, first-time sufferers and those with weakened immune systems something as commonplace as the herpes virus can result in serious consequences, even death. And the medical community has begun to wise-up too.

But that is not all, in a recent editorial in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, 31 of the world’s most respected scientists and medical professionals claimed that for too long their peers have neglected to properly take account of the large body of evidence suggesting that the cold sore virus may be a significant cause of dementia.

“We can’t continue to ignore the evidence,” they said. However, it will take some time for the scientists to overturn the prevailing consensus that dementia is caused by accumulation of proteins in the brain.

cold sore virus

However, it is hard to ignore their finding that microbes from the herpes virus are found in the brains of Alzheimer’s sufferers in much higher rates and quantities than in other members of the population. This finding would tally with previous studies which have found the cold sore virus to cause dementia-like cognitive symptoms in people infected with the virus.

And, according to the scientists, “These agents can undergo reactivation in the brain during ageing, as the immune system declines, and during different types of stress.”

Furthermore, says Professor Douglas Kell, one of those who lent his signature to the letter, “There is incontrovertible evidence that Alzheimer’s disease has a dormant microbial component.”

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Advances in cold sore treatments

Humans have been infected with the cold sore virus for thousands of years. In fact, Roman Emperor Tiberius is reported to have introduced a moratorium on kissing because of concerns regarding cold sore contagion. The commonplace nature of the virus throughout history is further underlined by the fact that it is mentioned in Shakespeare’s romantic tragedy Romeo and Juliet.

So we should pity all those who came before us, whether ancient Romans, Elizabethans or Jacobeans, because the reality is, they didn’t have what we have now: an effective cold sore remedies.

From Roman times so many things have been tried including chamomile (a particular favourite of the Romans), witch hazel, tea bag compresses, vodka baths, camphol, menthol, cabbages and more.

Really, this is good news for us twenty-first centurions: we don’t need to sneak into the office with a cabbage leaf or a tea bag fixed to our face or, worse, a suspicious whiff of vodka emanating from our mouths; instead we are in the privileged position of being able to review the important science – we know that propolis works in helping cold sores heal faster. We can go online and buy a tube of cold sore ointment; our long gone cold sore afflicted forbears cannot.