Alternative Treatments for Herpes Offer Real Relief
Article contributed by Michele Picozzi
Herpes has been around since Hippocrates, but it took the sexual revolution of the ’60s to turn it into an epidemic. The New England Journal of Medicine reported that 1 in 5 Americans over the age of 12 (approximately 45 million) have genital herpes, a 30 percent increase since the 1970s. Millions more have facial herpes or cold sores. Fortunately, there are alternative treatments that allow you to prevent and control herpes naturally.
Once contracted, the virus, which has no known cure, never leaves the body. Instead, it lives silently in nerve endings deep within the base of the brain or spinal cord. Current medical therapy consists of a few prescription drugs namely Zovirax (generically known as acyclovir), Valtrex and Famivr. These prescription-only medications suppress replication of the virus to reduce outbreaks. Unfortunately, the drugs aren’t always effective against HSV-1 (cold sores) and about 5 to 10 percent of people with HSV-2 (genital herpes) don’t respond to them.
What causes herpes to recur remains a medical mystery. However, there are several internal and external events that can trigger or wake-up the dormant herpesvirus. The triggers most commonly associated with recurrent herpes infections involve foods high in arginine (peanuts, chocolate, soy, sunflower seeds), exposure to strong sunlight, alcohol, menstruation, and physical and psychological stress.
When herpe svirus becomes active, the body sends internal signals to the soon-to-be affected sight. The most common warning signals or prodromes preceding a herpes outbreak are tingling, itching, stinging, pins-and-needles sensations. Fatigue or swelling of the lymph glands also are known to occur.
To relieve the pain of herpes lesions and speed healing try aloe vera, tea tree oil, melissa (lemon balm), comfrey, myrrh (in tincture form), and eucalyptus. For convenience and portability, there are a handful of topical creams made that contain herbs and amino acids in a soothing base of allantoin, sweet almond oil, or aloe vera.
Homeopathic remedies can help the body overcome a herpes outbreak. There are several, when matched against specific symptoms, that are known to work rapidly and deeply to relieve symptoms. They include natrum muriaticum, rhus toxicodendron, sepia, dulcamara, and hepar sulphuris.
Despite intensive medical research to find a way to halt the spread of herpes, its continues to infect and affect millions everywhere. The wise course of action is to stop herpes before it surfaces. Besides taking care of yourself with a healthful diet, plenty of rest, dealing positively with stress, remember that herpes can be contagious even in its earliest stages. If you feel a recurrence coming on, avoid sexual contact, sharing towels, toothbrushes, clothing, lip balm, and eating utensils. Wash your hands often with soap and hot water. Taking precautions can significantly reduce the spread of the virus to others.
Diet and Supplements for herpes
Many health practitioners, including traditional and alternative, consider the amino acid lysine to be a first line of defense in controlling herpes. Interest in lysine as a treatment for herpes began when laboratory research showed that when lysine is added to a herpes virus culture its growth was inhibited.
There are other dietary supplements that play a key role in controlling herpes as they support immune function. They include: Vitamins A, E, C, B-6, B-12, and the minerals selenium and zinc.
Licorice acts as an overall tonic, and has anti-inflammatory as well as antiviral properties. Burdock and dandelion cleanse the liver and enhance immune system function. Siberian ginseng helps the body deal with stress and improves energy.
Keeping the body pH level in balance is crucial since herpesvirus grows three time faster in an acidic environment.
Foods that foster acidity include most highly processed foods, coffee (including decaf), soft drinks, sugar, alcohol, white vinegar, tomatoes, red meat, fried foods, and white bread. If you have a tendency toward frequent outbreaks, you may want to eliminate these foods from your diet.
Fresh, whole foods particularly green and yellow vegetables, fruits (except citrus), legumes and whole grains, especially millet, yams, green salads and high quality protein such as chicken and fish promote an alkaline state that discourages growth of herpe rvirus.
Impact of Stress and the Immune System
Once contracted, herpes never leaves the body. Its re-occurrence depends largely on the strength of the immune system. Emotional stress has been cited at the number one cause of frequent or repeated herpes outbreaks. Stress prompts the body to create more stomach acid. This is important because herpesvirus thrives in an acidic environment. Stress also diminishes the power of the human glandular system, which exerts a tremendous influence on the workings of the immune system.
While stress is a fact of life, with practice we can control our response to it. It might help to remember that what drives the stress response is fear of loss. If stress is having a negative effective on your well-being, try the following:
- Stop when you’re tired or feeling overwhelmed. Learn to say “no” and mean it.
- Set aside time to eat regular meals that emphasize cooked whole foods and protein over carbohydrates.
- Reduce sugar consumption as it impairs immune function by interfering with white blood cell production and depletes the body of important B vitamins. Instead, snack on whole foods such as hardboiled eggs, rice crackers, soft cheeses, fruits, and vegetables.
- Get adequate rest; 8 hours minimum or more if you need it.
- Exercise regularly. Keep it mild and simple with a brisk walk, bike ride or do a few yoga postures.
- Meditate. Substantial evidence exists that regular mediation supports the immune system by lowering stress. It also fosters a genuine sense of well-being and tranquility and helps with negative states of mind as it affects the autonomic nervous system.
About the Author:
Michele Picozzi is the author of Controlling Herpes Naturally: A Holistic Approach to Prevention and Treatment. In addition to her book, her articles have appeared in Yoga Journal, New Age Journal, Delicious!, Let’s Live and Natural Pet as well as national medical and trade journals. For more information, you may contact the author through the publisher, Southpaw Press.
While most people consider herpes only to be a STD, the term actually refers to a family of highly contagious viruses that can cause a range of illnesses, from the more common cold sores, genital herpes, and chicken pox to less common brain infections (encephalitis) and even certain cancers, depending on what type of herpes virus is present.