A major study has found that a native kānuka honey product is just as effective for treating cold sores as standard pharmaceutical anti-viral treatment.
The Medical Research Institute found that a formula of 90 percent kānuka honey and 10 percent glycerin was as effective for healing the cold sores as well-known products such as Zovirax and Viraban.
The results have been published in the British Medical Journal Open and one of the leading researchers, Dr Alex Semprini said this provided consumers with an alternative, evidence-based option.
"This means that patients with a preference for natural and alternative medicines, as well as pharmacists who sell these treatments, can have confidence in the effectiveness of this kanuka honey formulation as a further treatment option for cold sores," he said.
A total of 952 patients agreed to take part in the two-year trial that began in 2015.
They were randomly assigned either Viraban or the kānuka honey cream, named Honevo, and asked to apply it daily and told to self-record the improvements.
Results showed that the average time for healing was up to nine days for both products.
The Health Research Council said the new remedy using a native plant should have commercial potential.
Around 30 percent of people suffer from recurrent cases of cold sores, a blistering infection around the lip.