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Fish Oil and Herpes

by
author image Sirah Dubois
Sirah Dubois is currently a PhD student in food science after having completed her master's degree in nutrition at the University of Alberta. She has worked in private practice as a dietitian in Edmonton, Canada and her nutrition-related articles have appeared in The Edmonton Journal newspaper.
Fish Oil and Herpes
Fish oil capsules Photo Credit Hunterann/iStock/Getty Images

Herpes is a viral infection that causes inflammation and pain, usually within the skin and nerves near the lips or genitals. Herpes is extremely difficult if not impossible to get rid of from your body because the viruses live and proliferate within nerve ganglions. Weakened immunity, inadequate nutrition and stress can trigger the release of the viruses from the ganglions, where they travel along subcutaneous nerves and up into the skin, forming infectious blisters or sores. Essential fatty acids found in fish oil display anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties and may help mitigate the symptoms of herpes. Consult with your doctor if you think you’ve contracted herpes.

Herpes Infections

Herpes is a collection of viruses that can infect you and cause considerable pain. The type that affects your mouth and causes cold sores is usually herpes simplex virus type-1, or HSV-1, whereas genital herpes is usually caused by HSV-2, according to “Human Biochemistry and Disease.” Herpes zoster is related to the chicken pox virus and usually affects the skin of your abdomen and back that correspond to the infected nerve pathways. Herpes has no medically recognized cure, and its symptoms are usually treated with antiviral and anti-inflammatory drugs. Herpes infections often look like pimples or fever blisters, except they cause burning pain and are highly contagious.

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Fish Oil

Fish oil is derived from the livers and tissues of certain species of fatty cold-water fish, such as cod, salmon, halibut, tuna and sardines. Fish oils contain polyunsaturated essential fats that are commonly called omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Fish oil also contains all the fat-soluble vitamins, such as A, D, E and K, and it is considered a source of vitamin C. Most of the health benefits derived from consuming fish oil are related to the properties of omega-3 fatty acids.

Properties

Your body cannot make any essential polyunsaturated fatty acids, so you need to acquire them from your diet. Omega-3 fatty acids are known to reduce the inflammation in your body by blocking the production of arachidonic acid and prostaglandins, which is why they are helpful for cardiovascular diseases and some forms of arthritis according to MedlinePlus. Other research has shown that medium-chain saturated fats and long-chain unsaturated fatty acids, such as omega-3 types, are highly active against enveloped viruses such as herpes simplex, according to a study on human milk published in 1987 in “Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy.” Whether omega-3 fatty acids can reduce the incidence of herpes outbreaks or help eradicate the virus from your body is unknown.

Fish Oil for Herpes

Fish oil, either consumed internally or applied topically, is not a medically recognized treatment for any form of herpes virus. The properties of omega-3 fatty acids and other nutrients in fish oil may help reduce the inflammation and pain associated with outbreaks, but no human trials have been undertaken to assess the exact relationship. Fish oil has numerous other well-established health benefits, and supplementing with it is not contraindicated by being infected with herpes. Ask your doctor about the potential benefits and side effects of taking fish oil.

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