Neem Oil and Herpes

Herpes is an oral or genital infection caused by herpes simplex virus. Oral herpes infections are defined by cold sores around the mouth and face, and are generally caused by HSV-1. Another type of herpes virus called the HSV-2 causes genital herpes that is transmitted sexually and leads to itchy, painful blisters on the genitals and buttocks. Multiple sexual partners increase the risk of HSV infections, while newborn babies may get the infection from their mothers. Antiviral medications can treat the condition. Certain natural supplements such as neem oil may also help manage the herpes.

Neem Tree boiled
Neem oil may help treat herpes lesions. (Image: rukawajung/iStock/Getty Images)

About Neem Oil

Neem, or Azadirachta indica, is a large evergreen plant native to the Indian subcontinent. The stem, root bark, young fruits and leaves of the plant have been used traditionally to treat a variety of conditions including infections, cancer, heart disease, diabetes and contraception. A yellow, bitter oil with garlic-like odor is extracted from the seed kernels of the neem plant. The neem oil contains chemicals such as azadirachtin, azadiradione and azadirone that are responsible for its biological activity. It is used as a base for several herbal cosmetic creams and as a male contraceptive. The dose and mode of application depends on the age and condition of the patient.

Link Between Neem Oil and Herpes

John Conrick, author of the book “Neem: The Ultimate Herb,” states that application of neem oil on genital herpes lesions can reduce the severity of the condition and lower the number of eruptions. Neem-based cream, when used as a lubricant during intercourse, may also prevent the spread of genital herpes. Another study in the August 2010 issue of the journal “Phytotherapy Research” reveals that neem bark extracts inhibit the entry of HSV-1 into the target cells in the laboratory and may help prevent or treat herpes infections.

Side Effects

Neem oil is generally safe to use, although Drugs.com states that genital or vaginal itching may also occur in some cases. Allergic reactions characterized by skin rash, hives and shortness of breath are rare but may be life threatening. Seek emergency medical help if you experience these symptoms. A case study published in the January 2008 issue of the journal “Indian Pediatrics” also reported seizures and visual and auditory disturbances on exposure to neem oil.

Precautions

The efficacy and safety of neem oil has not been demonstrated in actual clinical cases; hence, always talk to a doctor before using it to avoid complications. Also remember that the Food and Drug Administration does not regulate the production of neem oil supplements in the United States, so try your best to ensure the safety and quality of the product.

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