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Botanical treatments for Herpes (HSV1 and HSV2)

OVERVIEW

Herpes simplex virus (HSV) belongs to the human herpes virus group that includes HSV-1, HSV-2, and Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) among others.

HSV is a recurrent viral infection that remains dormant in the nervous system with periods of reactivation characterized by individual or multiple clusters of fluid-filled vesicles at specifically affected sites.

HSV-1 typically manifests above the waist and is referred to as Herpes labialis because of it primarily appearing on the lips in the form of “cold sores”. HSV-2, Herpes genitalis, typically appears on the genitals, although it also produces skin lesions.

Orogenital sex can lead to cross-contamination of these sites, with oral herpes being more likely transmitted to the genitals than the other way around. The incubation period for HSV-1 is 3 to 7 days and 3 to 5 days for HSV-2.



SYMPTOMS

The first episode of herpes after initial infection is known as the primary outbreak, characteristically appearing with flu-like symptoms such as fever, headache, and swollen
lymph glands in the groin. These may can last 2 to 3 weeks.

Recurrent outbreaks are characterized by tingling or itching in the genital area or around the mouth. The prodromal phase lasts 1 to 3 days followed by vesicles, lesions and scabbing lasting for up to 10 days before completely healed. The virus is already present in the prodromal phase and therefore transferable to others even without the lesions being present.

CONVENTIONAL TREATMENTS

Antiviral therapy with drugs that selectively inhibit viral replication including acyclovir, famciclovir (Famvir), and valacyclovir (Valtrex) is the standard treatment. Acyclovir has a track record of 20 years and a reasonable safety profile and may be taken during pregnancy.

BOTANICAL RESOURCES TO AID HEALING HERPES SIMPLEX OUTBREAKS

Botanicals represent a promising area for research, unfortunately there are only a few well-designed human clinical trials looking at the effects of herbs on HSV.
To lengthen the period between outbreaks and the length of an episode, there are different approaches that may work together. A number of herbs are available that have been show to have beneficial effects in supporting and enhancing immunity. Additionally, herbs that improve the stress response and relieve stress are significant, because stress is both a factor for outbreaks and supressive of immune function.

Antivirals

Analgesics help with the pain associated with the herpes lesions.
Aloe, Cat’s Claw, Echinacea, Lemon Balm, Licorice, Reishi, St Johns Wort, Tea Tree

Immunomodulators

Immunomodulators stimulate/enhance the immune system
Andrographis, Eleuthero, Reishi

Nervines

Nervines help to reduce stress, ease nervous tension, anxiety.
California Poppy, Damiana, Lavender, Lemon Balm, Milky Oats, Motherwort, Passionflower, Skullcap

Vulneraries and Anti-inflammatories

Vulneraries are herbs used to promote wound healing.
Aloe, lemon balm, St. John’s wort, sage, calendula and comfrey root are outstanding ones.

Analgesics

100% geranium oil, Peppermint oil, Kava Kava, St. Johns Wort

Astringents

Witch Hazel, White oak bark tincture

OTHER CONSIDERATIONS FOR HERPES TREATMENT

Reduce Arginine (Chocolate, Brown Rice, Wheat, Oatmeal, Gelatin, Brazil nuts, Hazel nuts, Peanuts, Walnuts, Almonds, Chashews, Sunflower seeds, peanut butter) and Increase L-Lysine (fish, chicken, turkey, milk, beef, cooked beans, eggs, cheese, soybeans).

Supplementation with 25mg of Zinc has been shown to inhibit HSV replication.
Topical use of zinc sulfate solutions (0.01 to 0.025%) improves healing and prevents recurrence. Internal use of zinc is not recommended during pregnancy.

Vitamin C – Supplementation with 1000mg vitamin C with bioflavonoids daily during the prodormal phase and then 5000mg divided into 5 doses daily for 3 days after the onset of symptoms.

Vitamin E shortens healing time in lesions associated with HSV-1, apply twice daily with a cotton swab.

WHAT AND HOW TO USE

TOPICAL ANTIVIRAL TREATMENT
A combination of St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum), Thuja (Thuja occidentalis), Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis), Calendula (Calendula officinalis) tintures may speed up healing.
Apply using a cottons swab 2 to 4 times a day.

PAIN RELIEF
Kava, Licorice tincture combined with Geranium or Peppermint oil. Shake before applying and use a cotton swab. Use 2-4 times a day.

FOR WEEPING LESIONS
Powdered myrrh, goldenseal or licorice in powder form applied several times a day, or alternatively you may also apply witch hazel onto weeping ulcers using a cotton swab.

TISSUE HEALING
Once sores have started to crust over use skin healing herbs like comfrey and calendula.

If you need any help with your botanical preparations, contact me with questions. I am also happy offer my help in creating the products tailored to your specific needs.

References

A. Romm: BOTANICAL MEDICINE FOR WOMEN’S HEALTH
Class Notes from “Botanical Medicine for Women”
Jill Hoppe: Melissa: Lemon balm as a topical treatment for herpes simplex virus
Wolbling RH, Leonhardt K. Local therapy of herpes simplex with dried extract from Melissa officinalis
Liang-Tzung Lin,1 Wen-Chan Hsu,2 and Chun-Ching Lin2: Antiviral Natural Products and Herbal Medicines

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