I’ve had herpes for four years now. I take daily suppressive medication (Acyclovir) and that helps to keep outbreaks at bay. Early on, I didn’t have health insurance. I had to find more holistic remedies that didn’t cost me $50 per month. Below are the top herpes treatments that I’ve found and that work for me. There are plenty of others that you can find online, but I can’t speak to their efficacy.
Tea Tree Oil and Eucalyptus Oil are essential oils that have antiviral properties when applied directly to a herpes blister. The positive effects of tea tree oil and eucalyptus oil were reviewed in a 2001 study done in Germany. They each help to dry out the blister and speed healing, as well as provide some soothing relief of the pain and burning accompanied by an outbreak. The major con is that there is a very strong odor associated with both tea tree oil and eucalyptus oil, which can be slightly off putting, unless you like the smell. They are both effective, but I prefer tea tree oil. There is no need to use both, using one is sufficient. Make sure to wash your hands before and after application of the oil. I use Q-tips to apply the oil and throw away each Q-tip after use. NEVER dip a used Q-tip back into your bottle of essential oil. I’ve found that using tea tree oil shortens the duration of my outbreaks and helps the sores heal more quickly.
L-Lysine is an essential amino acid that promotes membrane health. When taken orally (approximately 1000-1200mg daily) it can help to inhibit viral shedding and prevent outbreaks. L-Lysine has antiviral properties and also helps inhibit the effects of L-Argenine, which speeds up viral production. L-Arganine is found in foods like chocolate, red meat, fish, poultry, wheat germ, grains, nuts and seeds, and dairy products. Since L-Arganine is found in so many foods, as well as being produced naturally by the body,L-Lysine is important to take as a daily supplement. L-Lysine is available over the counter at most grocery stores, vitamin shops, or pharmacies. It is often available as an “immune booster” formulary with things like Echinacea or Garlic, which are perfectly fine.
[Added by Adrial]
One of the main conversations about how aspects of your diet can affect herpes outbreaks is that of Lysine vs. Arginine. It is said that eating a diet high in lysine and low in arginine prevents herpes outbreaks. Lysine inhibits the herpes virus from reproducing, while arginine is a favorite nutrient of herpes and encourages the virus to grow and replicate, according to John W. Hill, author of the book “Natural Treatments for Genital Herpes, Cold Sores and Shingles.” Lysine also inhibits the herpes virus from being able to use arginine, thereby slowing its reproduction rate.
So if you want to follow this, choose foods high in lysine (fish, chicken, beef, lamb, milk, cheese, beans, brewer’s yeast, mung bean sprouts, and fruits and vegetables) and avoid foods high in arginine (gelatin, chocolate, carob, coconut, oats, wheat flour and wheat germ, peanuts and soybeans).
How much Lysine to take? There haven’t been many recent studies on lysine and herpes, but a study from 1984 says that taking 1,248 mg a day of L-Lysine monohydrochloride showed evidence of decreasing the recurrence rate of herpes simplex attacks in nonimmunocompromised hosts. Anything less than that wasn’t effective, though.
And when all is said and done, do what feels healthy to you. I’m not a big fan of totally restricting your diet in order to avoid a simple herpes outbreak. It’s simply a lifestyle choice. If chocolate makes you happy, then eat chocolate. This lysine-arginine conversation is just something to be aware of.
Stress Management is probably the most important of the techniques. In a 2001 scholarly article by JH Gruzelier, a study was cited in which participants in a 6-week self-hypnosis training saw a 50% decrease in herpes outbreaks. Increased stress leads to increased outbreaks. Use of stress management techniques such as self hypnosis, guided imagery, exercise, or deep breathing can help to reduce outbreaks. Things like cigarette smoking should be avoided because nicotine actually triggers the body’s stress response. If you don’t know how to practice self-hypnosis, find a hypnotist in your area and schedule a session. Meditation is also helpful, so a yoga class would be a great alternative. The most important thing is to keep emotional stressors to a minimum and to manage stress as it comes rather than letting it build to an explosive level.
This is by no means a comprehensive list. These are just things that have worked for me over the last four years. If you have another holistic remedy that worked well for you, I encourage you to comment or share it on the Herpes Opportunity forums. The more we can learn from each other, the more we can help each other be the healthiest and happiest we can be.
If you do some google searches, you’ll find thousands (if not millions) of people who claim to have success with many different natural remedies. None have been okayed by the FDA, but you make your own decisions on what you think will work. It’s your body and your health!
From our herpes forum:
And from the National HELP Group:
1 tube Abreva
1 tube Anbesol
1 tsp Aveeno
1 tsp Aloe Vera 100% gel
3 sprays Hydrogen Peroxide
Mix together well. Apply 2-3 times daily to irritated area. I use this during an OB and apply 2-3 times daily. My OB’s usually clear in less than two days. This can be used on your nether regions or on your lips.
Ultimately we should take care of our health regardless — our bodies are our temples, after all, right? And if you haven’t been taking care of yourself, herpes may be one of those wakeup calls that motivate you to hit the gym and eat right. The healthier we are, the better we treat our bodies and our minds, the more we have available to keep the herpes virus suppressed. And aside from that, you just feel better overall when you take better care of yourself. Stress to the body, whether it be polluting ourselves with greasy burgers or polluting our heads with nasty thoughts, is one of the main initiators of a herpes outbreak. So use herpes as a great excuse to just take care of yourself across the board.
To continue the health discussion a bit more, you can think of a herpes outbreak not as something disgusting and shameful, but instead as a signal to take great care of yourself. You can look at a herpes outbreak as a body barometer that signals there is something off. That mental shift can take a lot of unnecessary suffering out of the equation. Feeling a herpes outbreak coming on could mean you stop what you’re doing and go get a massage, go outside in the hammock and read your favorite book. Use your herpes outbreaks as a physical sign to destress your life.