- Diseases, Disorders & Conditions
Possible Treatments for Herpes
It Won’t Go Away
No matter whether you are suffering from herpes simplex-1 virus or herpes simplex-2 virus, the simple truth is that it won’t go away. It will remain in your body forever. This is because the herpes viral DNA lies dormant by hiding inside nerve cells to avoid the immune system. Even though the body does create antibodies to counter the threat of herpes, they are unable to find them whilst they lie dormant within the nerve cells.
Herpes is a very common infection with 80 per cent of the population suffering from herpes simplex-1 virus or cold sores. This infection is often contracted early in life and can be transmitted by just a simple kiss from an adoring relative. Herpes simplex-2, genital herpes, is common the world over and infects around 500 million people worldwide. The reason herpes is so easily transmitted is because thirty per cent of people who have the virus, never show any symptoms and are therefore totally unaware that they have it.
The primary infection (the first one after being exposed to the herpes virus) usually displays the most severe symptoms starting with a fever and other flu-like symptoms. This is followed by what is known as the prodromal period, which is usually accompanied by a tingling sensation in the skin of the affected area. The prodromal period is a time when the virus is highly contagious. The next stage is the appearance of blisters or sores which eventually heal and crust over. The virus is still highly contagious until the crusting is complete.
Because herpes never goes away, the virus recurs periodically, sometimes displaying the same symptoms as the primary infection, but not always all of them. The world is still waiting for a cure for this virus and so the best we can do at present is manage the condition by reducing the severity and frequency of outbreaks. Generally speaking, recurring outbreaks gradually diminish in severity and sometimes disappear altogether.
Herpes is a painful condition that also has psychological effects because of the stigma attached to it, particularly genital herpes or HSV-2. It is important, therefore, to treat it effectively to reduce the time the outbreak takes to clear up and also to manage the severity of the symptoms.
There are many ways of tackling the symptoms of a herpes outbreak including acyclovir ointment, a good healthy diet and dietary supplements.
1. Acyclovir ointment is effective in managing the symptoms of herpes and also, when taken as a pill, can suppress recurrent outbreaks. As with many medications, there are possible side effects associated with acyclovir including, headaches, nausea and vomiting. Acyclovir is an anti-viral drug and, although it can reduce the symptoms, it doesn’t remove herpes from the body.
2. A good healthy diet is a natural way of looking after the body. A herpes diet will specifically contain those minerals, nutrients and amino acids that will help with the herpes symptoms and could even suppress recurrent outbreaks.
3. Dietary supplements give you more of the substances needed to fight the herpes symptoms over and above what you can take in through diet alone.
What is a Herpes Diet?
Whilst there is no official herpes diet, it is safe to say that a good healthy diet is most beneficial and it is possible to include foods that are good for the skin and also foods that are particularly good in tackling the herpes virus. Therefore, a three-pronged attack can be launched against herpes with foods that help the immune system, foods that help the skin and foods that protect against herpes.
Of course, the typical diet these days is far from healthy, with fast food being king and pre-prepared foods making life much easier at home. A change to the daily diet would be a good thing for many people, particularly as obesity is now becoming a major problem in the western world, but the right choices of food are particularly useful to people suffering from herpes simplex viruses 1 and 2.
The modern fast living diet of burgers, frozen pizzas and pre-packaged food does nothing for a person’s general health and also affects the immune system. Getting back to nature is the best way to clean up your diet and work on improving the immune system. Organic food should be taken on board wherever possible to avoid potentially harmful chemicals such as pesticides and to reduce the intake of additives that have no benefit to the body.
The Mayo diet is a very good diet for improving the immune system and contains very healthy choices such as:
· Plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables
· Lean protein
· Small quantity of healthy fats
A good balance is required for any healthy diet and it is also important not to skip meals. Food is our fuel and we need to take it on board in sufficient quantities to keep our engines running, but we want good quality fuel so that we don’t keep breaking down.
Once we are eating the right food to maintain our immune system, we will be less susceptible to infection and will start to feel much healthier all round.
Foods that are good for promoting healthy skin are those that contain vitamins A and C, collagen, healthy fats and zinc and they include:
1. Vitamin A – Carrots, mangoes, cantaloupe, beef liver, spinach, sweet potatoes and pumpkin
2. Vitamin C – Cantaloupe, citrus fruits, strawberries, tomatoes and broccoli
3. Healthy Fats – Avocados, raw seeds and nuts, Omega-3 rich fish and dairy products
4. Collagen - Gelatin made from animal by-products either by cooking and cooling meat or commercially available powdered gelatin.
5. Zinc – whole grains, nuts, turkey and chicken, legumes, shellfish and lean red meat
The good news is, that if you include the foods already listed in your diet, you will already be eating food that has been clinically proven to help prevent the outbreak of herpes and to reduce the healing time of outbreaks. Foods that specifically target herpes will include Vitamins A and E, Lysine, garlic and lactoferrin
1. Vitamin A – as listed above
2. Vitamin E – nuts and seeds and their associated oils, broccoli, olive oil, spinach and wheat germ oil.
3. Lysine – Lean beef, chicken and pork, cold water fish, legumes, raw nuts, eggs and dairy products.
5. Lactoferrin – Protein found in dairy products and helps boost the immune system.
Some of the foods listed here actually span all three groups in the fight against herpes which makes it even easier to follow a healthy balanced diet.
Is there a Herpes Vaccine available?
Vaccinations are an important part of managing diseases and although vaccinations for hsv have been tried, there isn’t an effective one available. However, a great deal of research is being conducted into a herpes vaccination and past attempts have come quite close. With herpes being a global problem, the large pharmaceutical companies can see the benefits of being the first to develop a vaccine for both HSV-1 and HSV-2. Most research is being directed to HSV-2 vaccines, however, because it is the most virulent strain. The research has also been concentrated on women as they tend to be infected more than men and, although herpes is not fatal to adults, it could have an impact on a foetus.
The development of vaccines for other diseases in the herpes family such as shingles and chicken pox gives great hope for a breakthrough in the search for a vaccine for HSV-1 and HSV-2.
What’s The Verdict?
We know that herpes is incurable at this moment in time and that large pharmaceutical companies are racing to be the first to develop a herpes vaccination to tackle the growing worldwide problem of HSV-1 and HSV-2. There is, however, already a lot that can be done to manage HSV-1 and HSV-2 so that people can get on with their lives and not have to worry too much about recurrent outbreaks.
There are dietary supplements such as L-lysine and L-arginine that help to reduce the severity of outbreaks, reduce the healing time and suppress the frequency of outbreaks. There is medication in the form of acyclovir, an anti-viral drug with the trade name Zovirax. This can be applied as an ointment, taken in pill form or, in some cases, injected intravenously. It is very effective in the treatment of herpes and although there can be side effects they are usually quite mild and include nausea, headaches and vomiting.
A change of diet can be beneficial in the treatment of herpes, whilst also maintaining general good health by boosting the immune system, looking after the skin and preventing herpes outbreaks.
Any one of these methods is helpful in treating herpes, but a combination of these treatments should improve the results in managing herpes outbreaks.