Q I have had negative experiences in the past and have read studies that have advised against taking arginine products without lysine to balance the ratio—otherwise one is more prone to herpes viral outbreaks, as I believe is true. Your InnerPower arginine formulations do not contain lysine. Could you comment?
PATTI, Alexandria, VA

A Of nine papers published in the 1980s (and none since) that tested whether lysine could reduce the incidence and intensity of herpes outbreaks, only one small study showed clear results, albeit at relatively high levels (3 g/day for 6 months).1

A second issue (one that you didn’t raise) has to do with the belief that lysine in combination with arginine can act as a superior growth hormone (GH) releaser, but only one paper has ever been published showing that, and the study involved teenagers.2 Neither amino acid alone caused GH release, but together there was a 7-fold increase! These results have never been duplicated. One wag commented that the mere sight of a needle could cause GH release in teenagers. BHT, a preservative used in cooking oils, has been found to be useful for lipid-envelope viruses, such as herpes.3,4


  1. Griffith RS, Walsh DE, Myrmel KH, Thompson RW, Behforooz A. Success of L-lysine therapy in frequently recurrent herpes simplex infection. Treatment and prophylaxis. Dermatologica 1987;175(4):183-90.
  2. Isidori A, Lo Monaco A, Cappa M. A study of growth hormone release in man after oral administration of amino acids. Curr Med Res Opin 1981; 7(7):475-81.
  3. Freeman DJ, Wenerstrom G, Spruance SL. Treatment of recurrent herpes simplex labialis with topical butylated hydroxytoluene. Clin Pharmacol Ther 1985;38(1):56-9.
  4. Fowkes S. Wipe out Herpes with BHT. MegaHealth Society, Manhattan Beach, CA, 1983.

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