Herpes simplex is a virus responsible for recurrent eruptions of small and usually painful blisters. When they appear around the mouth or on the lips, they are often called "cold sores". When they appear on the genital or adjacent areas, they are referred to as "lesions".
The hallmark of a herpes infection is a blister or cluster of blisters that often feels tingly and itchy at first, becoming sore later, eventually crusting over and disappearing.
An initial episode of herpes may produce fever, malaise and enlargement of local lymph nodes. Recurrences are usually milder but may begin with a brief period of general fatigue and a feeling of flu-like symptoms. Once a person has been infected, the virus will live in different areas of the nervous system for life. This sneaky virus actually lives in nerve cells where the immune system cannot find it and becomes re-activated from time to time.
Common triggers of herpes outbreaks are colds and other viral infections, fatigue, sun exposure, physical irritation of the skin and emotional stress. Some people are bothered by outbreaks once a year or less, while others may get them every few weeks.
Common Outbreak Triggers
- Stress (mental, emotional or physical)
- Infections (cold, flu or other infections)
- Excessive sunlight
- Hormone imbalances
- Food allergies
- Immune suppressing medications (anti-cancer drugs, steroids)
- Diets high in refined sugar
- Diets high in arginine rich foods (chocolate, nuts, certain grains and some seeds)
- Diets low in lysine rich foods (vegetables, legumes, fish, turkey and chicken)
- Lack of sleep
- Nutrient deficiencies
How to Prevent Outbreaks
- Avoid the following foods which are high in arginine (an amino acid that causes outbreaks):
o Nuts: almonds, walnuts, cashews and peanuts
o Grains: whole wheat, oats, brown rice and even flour products
o Caffeinated liquids or beverages
- Minimize the consumption of sugars and refined foods (just 3oz of sugar from any form of sugar including sucrose, honey or fruit juices suppresses the immune system by 50% for up to 5 hours!)
- Consume a nutrient dense diet rich in whole and unprocessed foods
- Take a daily good quality multivitamin
- Supplement with immune supporting nutrients like Zinc (30mg-50mg daily), Vitamin D3 (2000iu-5000iu daily), Vitamin C (1000mg-5000mg daily), Vitamin A (10 000iu daily)
- Supplement with Thymus Extracts as they have been shown to be effective in preventing both the number and severity of recurrent infections
- Supplement with Lysine- Studies have shown that doses of 1000mg per day are effective at suppressing the herpes virus and preventing recurrent outbreaks
- Take inventory of the stress in your life and eliminate the stressors that you can
- Quit smoking
- Make sure that you are getting adequate sleep (7-9 hours per night)
- Find out if you have food allergies. ELISA IgG food allergy testing is done through a simple blood test and reveals food allergies that suppress the immune system and lead to recurrent outbreaks
How to Treat Outbreaks
- Increase Lysine to 3000mg per day for 7-10 days
- Increase Vitamin C to 500mg every 2 hours during initial stages of outbreak to halt the replication of the virus
- Apply Lemon balm (Melissa) oil directly to the cold sore or lesion and this reduces healing time by up to 75%
- Glycyrrhetinic acid which is a component of licorice root and it has been shown in clinical studies to reduce healing time and pain associated with both oral and genital herpes lesions
- Ice pack: 10 min on and 5min off for up to three cycles every 4 hours during initial symptoms
- Clothing: Women should wear cotton underpants
- Warm baths with 1 tsp. of Epsom salt added may ease some of the discomfort
Preventative measures are the best way to ensure that recurrent outbreaks don't interrupt your life. It is also important to have the above mentioned natural remedies on hand in case an outbreak does occur and the treatment can be administered immediately!