It is estimated that about 80% percent of the American population has been exposed to the Herpes simplex virus, the virus that causes cold sores (also known as fever blisters). While not all that have been exposed ever show any signs of having the virus, there are myriad reasons why those that do experience “flair ups” may get them.
Common reasons why folks get flair ups include high levels of stress (such as dealing with an unstable economy), extreme temperature changes (going from chilly weather outside to dry, heated air inside) and even exposure to another illness (everyone got the H1N1 vaccine, I hope!). These being noted, it is no surprise that this time of the year is when many cold sores rear their ugly heads.
“Traditional treatments” mentioned in many home remedy guides run the gamut from slathering the sore with aloe to rubbing with yogurt. However, one of the most prevalent “cures” found in almost every anthology is the 30-minute application of a simple teabag.
While I appreciate the fact that those crusty, old commercial dustbags will finally get some use, there is a general lack of “why” these would possibly be of some service. A quick google search will lead you to believe that these curative properties are due to the tannic acid in black tea burning the cold sores into submission. However, as we’ve mentioned before, this theory is seriously flawed (in that tea doesn’t contain tannic acid).
What may be the cause of the speedy recovery are the polyphenols found abundantly in tea, which provide the majority of the countless health benefits of the beverage, including some possible anti-viral aid.
All of this being said, without any serious scientific documentation, this Tea Sommelier is not altogether sold on the treatment. However, several friends who suffer from cold sores swear by it, and using teabags as treatment would unlikely do any real harm. So if it works for you, go for it!