Natural Ways To Reduce Herpes Outbreaks

Monday, December 18, 2006 - 10:52am

By Wendy Hodsdon, ND

If you suffer from herpes outbreaks, you are not alone. Studies suggest that as much as 90% of the U.S. population is infected with at least one of the herpes simplex viruses (HSV).

What is herpes?

The two types of herpes simplex virus are HSV-1 (which often manifests as a cold sore) and HSV-2 (which causes genital lesions). Herpes usually manifests as small, painful blisters that eventually burst, causing an open and painful sore. After the initial herpes infection, the virus becomes dormant in the nerve cells. It can be reactivated by trauma, stress, minor infections, or sun exposure.

A healthy lifestyle leads to faster recovery of herpes

The immune system is very effective at eliminating viral infections during an active outbreak. But while a virus is dormant in the nerve cells, it evades immune system detection quite effectively. Supporting the immune system can help the body recognize the virus more quickly during an outbreak and, hence, recover faster.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is critical to keeping your immune system in top shape.

  • Eat a diet high in whole, unprocessed foods (e.g. vegetables, fruits, lean meats, beans)
  • Have regular meals
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Get plenty of sleep
  • Exercise regularly
  • Don’t smoke

Helpful supplements to fight off viruses (herpes)

Supplements that enhance your body’s ability to fight off viruses include:

  • Zinc. This supplement has been shown to inhibit the virus’s replication and enhance immune cell functioning.
  • Vitamin C. When applied topically to herpes ulcers and taken orally with bioflavonoids, vitamin C increases the rate of healing.
  • Vitamin A. Vitamin A fights viral infections by increasing the activity in the thymus gland. (High doses of vitamin A can be dangerous, while beta-carotene is a safer form.)
  • Melissa officinalis (lemon balm) or solid licorice extract. Topical use on herpes lesions helps them heal more quickly and reduces recurrent infections.

Herpes: the arginine and lysine connection

The herpes virus requires Arginine to replicate. Lysine is an amino acid shown to have anti-viral properties. If you avoid foods that are high in arginine while increasing foods high in lysine, you can slow-down the rate of the virus’s replication—and speed your healing time. Lysine supplements can also reduce the severity of a herpes outbreak. The following chart shows high arginine and lysine foods.


Avoid foods high in Arginine

Increase foods high in Lysine









Most Nuts



Simple precautions and lifestyle changes can decrease your herpes outbreaks and make them less severe. Remember, your body fights viruses more effectively when you eat a good diet, drink enough water, take immune-enhancing supplements (when you’re run-down), and decrease your stress.