Herpes Simplex

What is Herpes Simplex?

The virus herpes simplex rose to national prominence as a cause of the sexually transmitted disease known as "herpes" in the mid 1970s and, in the pre-AIDS era, became the scourge of the burgeoning sexual revolution in America.

The herpes simplex virus—one member of a whole group of herpes-type viruses that cause such diseases as chicken pox and mononucleosis—enters the body through broken skin, makes its way up the coverings of nerves supplying that area of skin, and sets up housekeeping in the ganglion of that nerve near the spinal cord or in the brain itself, where it "rests." When the virus enters the skin of the lips, nose, or face, it resides in the brain. When it enters skin of the body (usually the exposed genital organs), it "rests" near the spinal cord in the back. From this rest area, the virus can intermittently reactivate, cause recurrent outbreaks of blisters, and place you at risk for infecting others with herpes during these outbreaks.

Herpes SimplexThere are two types of herpes simplex: type we (HSV-1) and type 11 (HSV-2). HSV-1 causes cold sores and skin eruptions. Between 20% and 40% of the American population has cold sores caused by HSV-1. Twice that number are infected but never have physical symptoms. In all, 40% to 80% of the population carries this virus. HSV-2 affects more than 30 million Americans, though more than half never develop serious symptoms.

The initial infection with virus may be so mild as to go unnoticed, but usually there will be a few tender blisters in the area. Once the virus establishes a home for itself in the brain or near the spinal cord, it lays in wait for something to stimulate its reactivation.

In herpes simplex infections on your lips, that something could be a sunburn or windburn, fever, other illness such as a cold or flu, trauma to your lips, or severe physical or emotional stress. In the herpes infections of the genital area, that something could be the monthly menstrual cycle in women, minor injury to the genitalia from vigorous sexual intercourse, infections that drain your immune defenses, or severe physical or emotional stress.

When the virus becomes active, the area of skin destined to "break out" will begin to itch, tingle, burn, ache, or in some way not feel "right." This sensation means the viruses have begun to make their way back down the nerve coverings from their rest area to the skin surface where they will produce a cluster of painful blisters that trouble you for a week or two, then heal and disappear, usually to return another day. Your physician can prescribe medication designed to kill the herpes simplex virus in the skin tissues when outbreaks occur; however, even these medications do not kill the virus in its rest area in the brain. Is there anything that nutrition can do to help? Yes.

Herpes Simplex diet

What helps Herpes Simplex?

• See Cold Sores.

•  Vitamin A is important for healing and prevents the infection from spreading. Recommendation: Supplement with 50,000 IU daily. Use emulsion form for easier assimilation and greater safety at higher doses. Please read the vitamin A discussion in the A-to-Z Nutrient listings.

• In genital herpes outbreaks, a solution of zinc, applied to the skin with a cotton ball or cotton-tipped applicator, soothes the itching, burning, and stinging pain of the blisters in 2 to 3 hours. Recommendation: Ask your pharmacist to compound a 0.25% saturated solution of zinc sulfate in camphor water. Apply this solution to the genital sores hourly, beginning within 24 hours of their appearance and continuing for 3 to 6 days. Regular once-a-day application to the area that breaks out may help to prevent recurrences, as well.

Herpes Simplex Herbal remedies

•  See Cold Sores.

What makes Herpes Simplex worse?

•  See Cold Sores.

•  During outbreaks, eat the following in moderation: almonds, barley, cashews, grains, chicken, chocolate, corn, dairy products, meat, nuts and seeds, oats, and peanuts. These contain L-arginine, an amino acid that suppresses l-kysine, which retards virus growth.

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