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Solutions for Herpes Simplex Type 2

Updated January 7, 2013

The first time someone catches herpes the infection may go completely unnoticed or be asymptomatic. Equally as common however is an incredibly challenging crop of painful blisters. The symptoms grab your attention with the force of a lightning bolt. Pain might be burning, aching, shooting, or cramping and cannot be ignored. Genital herpes' little blisters become bigger, and eventually break to leave ulcers, scabs, and sores that heal slowly over days to weeks.

Signs of a recurrent herpes episode might include a little tingling sensation, or perhaps flu-like symptoms with fever and swollen lymph nodes. These are followed by a cluster of small fluid-filled blisters that break and leave painful crusted ulcers that seem to heal agonizingly slowly, even if it's only several days. Highly contagious and likely to recur, herpes outbreaks are tormenting.

What Is Known About Herpes Simplex Type 2

The herpes virus comes in many forms and the type that usually causes genital sores is called herpes simplex virus, most frequently type 2 (HSV-2).

The initial exposure to herpes may be asymptomatic and precede the eruption by months to years. The herpes virus has the unfortunate capacity to live dormant in our system and reappear when it gets a chance as an oral, facial, or genital cold sore. Outbreaks almost always recur in the same location for a given individual.

It has long been thought that oral and facial lesions are caused by type 1 herpes (HSV-1) and genital lesions by type 2. We now know the herpes neighborhoods are not truly exclusive, and either type can appear as a lesion in either area.

Typically, however, HSV-2 lesions are somewhere around the genital area. The sores may be anywhere from the lower abdomen to the mid thigh, front, back and between the legs, for men or women.

The severity of herpes eruptions varies tremendously among individuals and often represents a relative weakness of the immune system in the face of an emerging expression of the virus. Alternative herpes treatments are aimed at enhancing the immune response rather than disabling the viral expression, and are similar for either type of herpes virus in any location.

Healthy Steps: Herpes Simplex Type 2—First Steps

For the greatest improvement of your herpes symptoms with the fewest steps, do the following:

  • Thorne Research L-Lysine. Take two 500 mg capsules three times daily for an acute outbreak. Continue taking 1 capsule daily for at least three months, and possibly for years, to prevent recurrences.
  • Barleans Omega 3 Swirls are delicious ways to get the essential omega-3 fatty acids: take 1000 mg daily.
  • A moistened black tea bag applied for five minutes twice daily has anesthetic and anti-viral properties.

Healthy Steps: Herpes Simplex Type 2—Full Program
A comprehensive program involves many areas in which action steps can be taken, gradually or all at once. Start by following our basic nutrition and healthy lifestyle guidelines, with the following modifications:

Savor Helpful Foods

  • Eat highly nutritious foods during a herpes outbreak as you would for any viral infection: grass fed meats, wild salmon and other fish, pastured-raised eggs, and dairy from pastured cows.
  • Eat coconut oil and milk for lauric acid (defends against virus).
  • Eat foods rich in lysine. Fish, chicken, beef, lamb, milk, cheese, beans, brewer's yeast, mung bean sprouts, and most fruits and vegetables have more lysine than arginine, except for peas. (Arginine competes with lysine for absorption; herpes virus loves arginine and is thwarted by lysine! Tipping your diet away from arginine and towards lysine helps your body resist or overcome the virus.)

Note: Coconut is controversial. The helpful extract Monolaurin in coconut oil might act in opposition to the arginine-rich coconut meat. Coconut milk might be made from either meat or oil. If coconut is important to your diet, test it on yourself to see its personal effect on your tendency to herpes.

Avoid Problematic Foods

  • Avoid immune stressors, starting with ALL SWEETS and ALL GRAINS. As you would during any viral infection, avoid immune stressors such as alcohol, processed foods, sodas, white flour products, sugar and other refined carbohydrates, and excessive caffeine, all of which can interfere with immune function. Stay off these foods for two months. If you are symptom-free, re-introduce foods one at a time to identify which foods might need a permanent boot off your plate!
  • Avoid foods rich in arginine: gelatin, chocolate, carob, coconut meat, oats, whole wheat, white flour, peanuts, soybeans, wheat germ, walnuts, almonds, cashews, pecans, and sesame seeds.
  • Avoid all foods suspected to be allergens. If you crave a certain food, question whether it might be an allergen to be avoided.

Supplements can Help

The following can be helpful in shortening an acute herpes attack, or interrupting a pattern of recurring attacks.

  • Barlean's Omega 3 Swirl are delicious ways to start a habit of taking omega 3 fatty acids.
  • Thorne Research L-Lysine. Start with 2 capsules (500 mg each) three times daily during the outbreak and continue taking 1 capsule daily for three months or even years to prevent recurrences.
  • Thorne Research Zinc Picolinate. Take 30-60 mg/day to prevent outbreaks. If one does this long term must balance with Copper 2 mg daily to avoid a deficiency. (Thorne Research Copper Picolinate 2 mg. daily)
  • Thorne Research Vitamin C: Take 1-2 capsules three times daily. 
  • Lauricidin. Monolaurin is the key ingredient sold under the brand name Lauricidin®. Monolaurin, found naturally in coconut oil and breast milk, has anti-viral effects against all types of herpes viruses. It is best to start with a very small dose: 1.5 grams one to two times daily taken with food or water, but not hot liquids, for one or two weeks. The dose can be increased gradually to 3.0 grams one to three times daily thereafter. A maintenance dose may be 3.0 grams two or three times a day.

Daily Life Activities

  • Mind/Body Medicine for Herpes. Emotional stress may trigger an outbreak of symptoms. To alleviate stress, relaxing therapies such as meditation and guided imagery are recommended. Support groups may also be very useful.
  • Shower. Don't soak in or sit near a tub, bath, or hot tub. Shedding virus can survive in bath water and theoretically spread to someone else.

Notes on contagion: open herpes sores are contagious. That same area is likely to be contagious before there are open sores, perhaps even as early as when there is just tingling. Open herpes sores inside the vagina are often silent and painless; sores on the cervix are often painless.

Topical Applications

Many natural applications may shorten a herpes attack:

  • Lactobacillus acidophilus. The living culture present in yogurt, is reported to help alleviate the symptoms of a herpes outbreak. It also has preventive capacity against further outbreaks.
  • Propolis ointment. One study showed that sores healed faster for people using the ointment containing propolis than in those using ointments containing the antiviral drug acyclovir or a placebo. Apply to herpes sores four times a day. Find propolis in Herb Pharm's Original Salve, apply as often as it helps.
  • Lysine ointment and lemon balm cream have both proved effective in clinical trials. Both can be found as an ointment in health food stores and may be applied three times daily.
  • A moistened black tea bag applied for five minutes twice daily has anesthetic and anti-viral properties.
  • Milk, raw if possible, for pain relief and to promote healing. Soak cotton balls in milk and apply to the area.
  • Ice (crushed in a bag, or packaged frozen vegetables) can reduce pain and itching. Protect from the skin with thin cloth and apply for 10-15 minutes several times daily. Avoid prolonged exposure that might harm delicate skin around the herpes sores.
  • Honey, aloe vera gel, or calendula ointment can all aid the softening and healing of a crusted lesion.

Be sure to use disposable gloves to separate the tissues if urination over an open lesion is unbearable. Epsom salt baths daily can be very soothing for genital herpes. For extremely painful initial outbreak unresponsive to above measures, one may wish to use an analgesic topically such as lidocaine gel, which requires a prescription.

Homeopathic Treatment

Herpes is best treated with a constitutional remedy in consultation with a professional homeopath.

Herpes Prevention

Avoid contracting herpes by being meticulous with sexual contact. Avoiding contact with the skin or membranes at or around the outbreak area is the only sure protection whether that is from refraining from touch or inserting a barrier (condom) between yourself and the lesion.

Keeping a strong immune system is an excellent form of herpes protection. Many exposures do not result in herpes transmission, when the outbreak is minor and the unaffected person's immune system is strong and able to respond vigorously to the herpes virus.

From Dr. Deborah's Desk

Lysine can be as miraculous in alternative practice as prescription anti-virals have been for conventional medicine. I first learned about using lysine from a patient, close to 20 years ago, when homeopathic treatment had lessened the intensity and frequency of the herpes outbreaks but not eradicated them. Lysine ointment at the spot of the “tingle” and oral capsules in high doses are often adequate to reverse an emerging herpes outbreak.

I love learning about new solutions from patients. Is there a health tip - for herpes or anything else - that you've always wanted to share with your physician? I'd love to hear about it, please leave me a comment

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