Herpes simplex is a common virus. Specific food choices as well as herbs and supplements can inhibit the herpes virus, preventing future outbreaks. A comprehensive treatment plan for herpes simplex virus (HSV) includes dietary modifications, measures to enhance immune function to prevent viral infections, and decreasing stress or triggers that initiate outbreaks.
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Herpes simplex is a virus that requires the amino acid arginine to replicate and multiply within the body. According to Pizzorno in his Natural Medicine Handbook, lysine is an amino acid that opposes some of the effects of arginine and can prevent replication.
During an acute outbreak of herpes simplex, foods higher in lysine will inhibit the replication of HSV. These foods should be emphasized in your diet, and include fermented products like yogurt, kefir, cheese, sour cream, eggs, fish, chicken, turkey, lamb, pork, organ meats, potatoes, lima beans, shrimp, mung bean sprouts, cottage cheese, watermelon, black bass, rye, avocados, sea vegetables, whey, apple, cucumber, millet, rice polishings, rice bran, sprouts, daikon radishes, carrots and brewer’s yeast.
A simple diet of fresh, organic fruits, vegetables and meats that are preservative free is recommended. Foods to be avoided as they have high levels of the amino acid arginine include chocolate, peanuts, almonds, cashews, walnuts, filberts, pecans, brazil nuts, sesame and sunflower seeds, coconut, gelatin, buckwheat, seeds, wheat germ and granola. Additional foods to avoid as they will exacerbate an existing outbreak and/or can induce the onset of one are alcohol, coffee, black tea, sugar, simple carbohydrates (e.g., baked goods made with white flour), chickpeas, lentils, wheat, oats, barley, carob, cocoa, eggplant, tomatoes and hot sauces.
Dr. Hudson, N.D., in her book "The Women's Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine," recommends specific herbs for their antimicrobial and immune stimulating effects: Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) is a great antiviral that can be applied topically for acute outbreaks or taken as a botanical tincture for prevention. Lemon balm also can reduce pain involved with an acute outbreak. Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) is an antimicrobial that can increase healing time of the outbreak and reduce symptom discomfort. Echinacea and goldenseal will act together to increase immune response, decrease inflammation and heal sores faster. Astragalus can be used long term as a powerful antiviral to reduce the occurrence of outbreaks.
Lysine supplementation can significantly reduce outbreaks and increase healing time in acute cases. B vitamin complexes can help reduce nerve system stress and increase healing time. The HSV lays dormant in the nerve root ganglia and when triggered, the virus activates in a repeated location on the body. B vitamins can help reduce this repeated occurrence especially if associated with life stressors and anxiety. Vitamin C, oral and topical, increases the rate of healing active lesions. Zinc supplementation can reduce frequency, duration and severity of an acute outbreak. Vitamin E applied topically can provide pain relief to an active lesion.