Red marine algae have been used for a variety of purposes in Asia for more years than have been recorded. Originally probably, used as a food, it then found many medicinal applications for a wide variety of conditions depending upon the species of algae. In fact, one of the earliest written records from China dating to 600 BC mentions algae as being a food suitable for a king.
In Chinese medicine red marine algae have been looked upon as allowing the flow of qi by removing obstructions to this flow caused by wetness and heat. By maximizing qi we attain a maximum feeling of well being and energy. The algae, then, have been used by the Chinese since ancient times as a general medicine or tonic.
Red marine algae have long been known to assist the body's immune system to respond to virus attacks, and a regular intake can reduce the number of viral attacks and their severity. It has been used traditionally for many ailments, including boils, urinary infections, asthma, goiter and stomach problems, and also for ulcers and tumors with varying degrees of success. The scientific basis for these applications is varied, but it is the topical use to eradicate cold sores that it best known for in the West, though it has been claimed to be an effective means of reducing the cholesterol levels in the blood.
At one time, those who suffered chronically from cold sores had no long term relief. In fact frequently the short term relief was sleep! It is not so much the pain that causes the distress of a cold sore, but the constant irritation, much like a painful itch. Temporary relief could be obtained by the use of some herbal remedies, such as chamomile and licorice root, although they were not genuine remedies in that they did not cure the condition, but provided relief from the symptoms for a short time.
However, St. John's Wort and lemon balm were real remedies in that they killed the virus, and were likely the best antiviral remedies available other than red marine algae. The virus killed, however, were only the active 'soldiers' while the main body remained dormant deep within the nerve cells ready to become activated at some future date.
Herpes I, or cold sores, are not nice viruses because they can lie dormant for years and then be activated by one trigger or another. These triggers include menopause, stress, dental work (so probably stress!), other infections, sunburn and fatigue caused by overwork. It starts of as a small blister, perhaps one or two, with a slight burning sensation. You don't take much notice of it but suddenly it expands and becomes very painful. Like an itch on your skin, you can't keep your tongue or your teeth off it, and it simply gets worse.
Many people confuse a cold sore with a canker sore, but the latter is a mouth ulcer, and is always inside your mouth while a cold sore is always on your lip or very close to it. This is because the virus that causes them affects the nerve endings that are on your lip or adjacent areas. They can also occur inside the mouth, but only slightly inside, and then only if the nerves targeted are those just on the inside of the lip.
Although the cold sore virus is extremely contagious, it is possible for you to get the virus by kissing your boy friend or girl friend. The reason for that is due to the fact that it is so contagious. Normally you will get it in childhood from a kiss form a relative or your parents. If not them, then by coming into contact with toys that are infected with the saliva of other infected children. Children need not show the symptoms themselves to be carriers of the virus, and the same is true of adults. Once you have the virus, you will suffer a dose of cold sores, but once it dies down the virus will not be eliminated.
The virus will live on in your nerve endings until the trigger previously mentioned activates it. Although most people develop antibodies against it, about 40% are said to get repeat infections. This seems a low figure since everybody I know gets cold sores now and again. However, the main point made is that the virus never really gets killed off.
There are many species of red algae used in China, Japan and the Pacific region in generally, though the family Dumontiaceae has been particularly useful in the treatment of herpes I and II. Herpes I is cold sores and Herpes II is genital herpes. It has been proved unequivocally to alleviate the symptoms of herpes topically and to prevent a recurrence by oral administration.
The active agent of red algae are carrageenans, a family of sulfated polysaccharides that in 2006 were found to be very effective against the sexually transmitted diseases HIV and genital herpes. In fact it is already being used in some condom lubricants where it has been found to inhibit HPV, human papilloviruses that cause genital warts. Carrageenans seem to be able to identify unfriendly proteins such as viruses and prevent them binding to human cell surfaces.
The polysaccharides are thought to stimulate the production of interferons, which work with the immune system as antiviral agents. They also improve the activity of T-cells and B-cells that destroy virus-infected cells in our body. These polysaccharides are generally contained within the tough cell walls of the Dumontiaceae that also bind with heavy metals, carcinogens and other harmful impurities and remove them from the body before they can do any damage. It is a very useful seaweed!
In fact the sulfonated carregeenans of red marine algae are now thought to be natural antiviral agents superior in effect to acyclovir, and to effectively cure herpes zoster (shingles) infections which is a definite breakthrough in the treatment of viral infections and the understanding of the immune system. The effect of extracts from dumonticeae delivered orally on other viral infections such as Candida have been very encouraging, resulting in very rapid improvement in the condition
Acyclovir can create immunity if used frequently, in much the same way that antibiotics do, but red marine algae do not appear to. The full benefits of this supplement, used by the Chinese and Japanese for thousands of years, have yet to be determined, but it is thought to be of more value to those that suffer regularly from cold sores than Acyclovir, which chemically is a glycosamine named acycloguanosine.