The herpes family of viruses includes more than seventy known members. The most common ones that humans encounter include herpes simplex 1 and 2, Epstein-Barr virus, varicella zoster, and cytomegalovirus. This section contains information on herpes simplex 1 (HSV-1) and herpes simplex 2 (HSV-2).
Both of the herpes simplex viruses cause small, irritating, fluid-filled blisters or eruptions on the skin and the mucous membranes. Herpes simplex virus 1 is often at the root of cold sores, also know as fever blisters, since sun exposure can bring on an outbreak.
The initial symptoms of a cold sore include burning and tingling sensations around the edges of the lips and the nose, where itchy, painful blisters and/or small, red pimples will form within a few hours and last a few days. They usually dry up and crust over in eight to twelve hours after onset, although natural and conventional therapy can often greatly reduce the healing time. A person may complain of localized pain, as well as have a mild fever and swollen lymph nodes in the neck.
Herpes simplex virus 2 causes blisters on the genitals and is typically spread through sexual contact (although herpes simplex virus 1 can also cause genital herpes and vice versa). The burning and tingling sensation surrounding the genital areas are initial symptoms. The moist linings surrounding the sex organs will soon become the sites of blisters that later turn into sores or lesions that can easily become infected and irritating. It should be noted that a pregnant woman carrying the herpes simplex virus 2 may pass it along to her baby during birth, allowing the baby to form lesions from contact, as well as problems with its nervous systems, such as seizures and mental retardation. Women are screened for this infection during their pregnancy and cesarean section birthing can prevent the transfer of herpes simplex 2.
Herpes simplex virus 1 and 2 are extremely common. Once they enter the body, herpes viruses can remain dormant in the nervous system for several years of life. Their outbreak is more likely when the immune system is under stress, such as during infectious illness (common cold), when under physical or emotional stress, from excessive exposure to sunlight, and from nutritional deficiencies and allergies to food or drugs.
Conventional treatment for a cold sore is to let it run its course, apply antiviral topical solutions, or use pain-relieving medications. The antiviral drug acyclovir (Zovirax) is used to suppress outbreaks of oral and genital herpes. Antibiotics may be given for secondary skin infections.
Natural therapy focuses on enhancing the immune system so that one is not as susceptible to a herpes outbreak. In addition, this section discusses some natural remedies that have direct antiviral effects. It has been estimated that 90 percent of the population has one or both herpes viruses. The key is to have a resilient immune system that can fight off and contain the herpes virus. In the case of genital herpes, the best approach is prevention through avoidance of casual sexual contact. However, natural therapies can make a dramatic impact in reducing outbreak recurrence and severity for people with genital herpes.
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All of these prescriptions below have been proven effective; level of
effectiveness depends on the individual. Please consult your doctor when taking
any and all supplements.
The top 7 vitamins and supplements have shown to help Herpes:
Prescription for Natural
Cures by James F. Balch, M.D. and Mark Stengler, N.M.D.
Prescription #1 L-Lysine - LifeSource Product Take 1,000 mg three times daily between meals for an acute outbreak. For preventative purposes,
take 500 mg two to three times daily between meals. This supplement has been shown in some studies to help treat acute outbreaks and may reduce recurrence.
Prescription # 2 Lemon balm extract (Melissa officinalis) Apply
a lemon balm topical cream four times daily to the affected area. It has
mainly been studied for healing cold sores.
Prescription #3 Lomatium root (Lomatium dissectum) Take
1 ml or 500 mg four times daily for acute outbreaks. Lomatium root has immune-enhancing and antiviral properties.
Prescription #4 Propolis Apply propolis tincture or ointment four times daily to the affected area. Propolis has been shown to heal genital
herpes and most likely helps cold sores.
Prescription # 5 Vitamin C - LifeSource Products - See All of our Vitamin C Products. Take 1,000 mg, along with 500 mg of
bioflavonoids, three times daily. Vitamin C improves immune function and reduces the duration of the infection.
Prescription #6 Zinc Picolinate - LifeSource
Product Take 30 mg twice daily, along with 3 mg of
copper. Zinc supports immune function and has been shown in studies to reduce
the frequency, the severity, and the duration of a herpes outbreak. Topical
application of zinc sulfate has been shown to reduce the recurrence of herpes
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- A burning, tingling sensation on reddened skin, accompanied by one or more clusters of small, fluid-filled vesicles
- Sexual contact
- Immune system suppression
- Nutritional deficiencies
Consume foods that are rich in the amino acid L-lysine, as they may inhibit herpes virus replication. These include legumes, fish, turkey, chicken, and most vegetables.
Bell peppers, brussels sprouts, broccoli, potatoes, and other brightly colored vegetables and fruits provide vitamin C and bioflavonoids that help heal the skin.
Fish such as salmon, nuts like walnuts, and seeds such as flax seeds provide essential fatty acids that are necessary for tissue repair.
Foods to Avoid
Avoid foods that are high in the amino acid L-arginine, as it may stimulate HSV replication. These foods include peanuts, almonds, and other nuts, as well as whole wheat and chocolate.
Reduce or eliminate sugars, as they interrupt the healing of tissue and suppress immune function.
Acidic foods, such as grapefruit, tomatoes, oranges, and other citrus fruits, may aggravate cold sores and should be avoided during an outbreak.
- Acupuncture is helpful for some people with recurrent herpes. See a qualified practitioner for treatment.
- Magnet therapy can be effective in reducing pain and stimulating skin healing. Use under the guidance of a knowledgeable practitioner.
- Applying ice to a cold sore at the first signs of symptoms can help prevent a full-blown outbreak. Apply for ten minutes and then stop. Repeat every hour. An adult should apply it to the lesion of a young child to prevent damaging the skin.
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