Are There Legitimate Natural Treatments for Herpes?

Yes, there are some natural remedies that can help to lessen the severity and frequency of herpes outbreaks.

The herpes simplex virus (HSV) is an infection that can cause cold sores near the mouth or sores in the genital area, and it has no cure. It is extremely common, and over 4 billion people around the world have a form of herpes, the World Health Organization (WHO) publishes.

Antiviral medications can help to minimize and shorten outbreaks. They can even potentially suppress outbreaks, but they do have side effects.

Some natural remedies that may be able to control herpes outbreaks include managing your diet, getting enough sleep, and keeping your stress levels low. (Learn More) Natural treatments can be used to lessen pain during an active herpes outbreak. For example, cold and hot compresses and some topical treatments can reduce discomfort. (Learn More)

Medicinal and some natural treatments can help to suppress and potentially even prevent herpes outbreaks from occurring. (Learn More) Natural remedies are not always proven to work, and their effectiveness may differ from person to person. Medications, however, can come with side effects.(Learn More)

Herpes can impact everyone differently. It is best to find what works for you and your body individually. Your ideal care plan may include both medicinal and natural treatments.

Natural Treatments for Herpes

Herpes is a disease that doesn’t have a cure, although there can be long stretches where there are no symptoms and the virus can lie dormant.

A herpes outbreak can cause sores around the mouth like cold sores (HSV-1) or the genitals (HSV-2). During a herpes simplex virus (HSV) outbreak, the sores can be irritating, itchy, and uncomfortable. You may feel lethargic, or you may have a fever, muscle aches, and pain when urinating.

There are two main ways to manage herpes:

  • By suppressing and trying to minimize outbreaks
  • By treating and managing the symptoms during outbreaks

Both medicinal and natural remedies can be used for these purposes.

The following are some natural ways to control and manage herpes:

  • Herbs and supplements
  • Healthy lifestyle changes involving diet
  • Maintaining emotional balance
  • Getting sufficient sleep

None of these methods are going to make herpes go away, but they may help to control and minimize outbreaks and decrease discomfort.

Managing Discomfort During Outbreaks

ice pack

During an active outbreak, the sores can be uncomfortable. You may want to use topical antiviral antibiotics to help clear them up.

There are some natural ways to ease the pain and itching as well.

  • Use ice packs and cool compresses to minimize swelling.
  • Try warm compresses to alleviate pain and itching.
  • Keep the area clean, and use a hydrogen peroxide rinse to disinfect the area.
  • Rub garlic on the area. Garlic has antiviral properties, and it may help to reduce inflammation.
  • Apply apple cider vinegar directly to the sores. It is both a disinfectant and an antiviral agent that may also reduce inflammation during an active infection.
  • Put a licorice root paste on the sores. This can help them dissipate due to anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and immune-boosting properties.
  • Apply lemon balm. This is an antibacterial, anti-inflammatory agent, and it can also act as a pain reliever.
  • Use tea tree oil and peppermint oil. These can be used alone or in tandem to reduce pain and inflammation. They can also help to minimize an active herpes outbreak.
  • Try aloe vera gel. It can be applied to the affected area to help heal the sores, reduce pain, and relieve inflammation.
  • Consume coconut oil. Taking it several times a day can help to manage symptoms of herpes and minimize the outbreak faster.
  • Apply cornstarch paste to the affected area to relieve irritation and itching.
  • Use over-the-counter ointment containing propolis to help heal herpes

One of the best things you can do to control an outbreak of herpes is to keep the area as clean and dry as possible. Avoid sexual intercourse or intimate contact to prevent transmission to a partner.

Suppressing Outbreaks

Herpes outbreaks can cause irritating, itchy, and painful sores around the mouth and/or genitals. One of the ways to manage the virus is to keep outbreaks and active infections to a minimum.

There are several ways this can be accomplished. You will have to find what works best for your body. What causes an outbreak in one person may not be the same for the next person.

There are both medicinal and natural ways to help suppress a herpes outbreak.

  • Medicinal suppression of herpes: Medicinal prevention and suppression of a herpes outbreak will usually include antiviral medications that can be taken daily. They can reduce herpes outbreaks by as much as 75 percent.
    These medications include:

All of these medications can be taken at the first sign of an outbreak to potentially shorten and minimize the severity of the infection. This type of treatment is called episodic medicinal treatment. This means that you will only take medicine for a few days during an episode to help it clear up faster.

Suppressive medicinal therapy involves taking a pill every day to keep herpes outbreaks from coming back. If you suffer from six or more outbreaks in one year, you may want to consider medicinal suppressive therapy.

  • Natural remedies for herpes suppression: Lifestyle changes can help to decrease herpes outbreaks. Getting enough sleep and keeping your stress levels down can help. High emotional and/or physical stress may actually cause a herpes outbreak as your system can go into overdrive.

Avoid extended exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light. Steroids, such as asthma medications, can trigger a herpes outbreak as can physical friction. Be sure to keep your skin clean and dry too.

Exercise and staying active can help to reduce herpes outbreaks for some people. Things like surgical trauma may instigate an outbreak.

Eating healthy and balanced meals is important. Foods that are rich in antibodies are good for keeping your immune system in top shape.

Supplements like lysine can helpful too. Lysine is an essential amino acid that has been shown to prevent and minimize herpes outbreaks. It can be taken as a dietary supplement.

Avoiding foods that contain high amounts of arginine, such as red meat, dairy products, poultry, fish, grains, legumes, chocolate, seeds, and nuts, can help to keep herpes outbreaks from recurring. It is likely not possible to quit consuming any arginine, but it can be helpful to reduce the amount of it you take in.

Pros and Cons of Different Treatments

It is important to find what works for you to manage your herpes. It can vary from person to person quite a bit.

Medications may work best; you may be able to manage outbreaks naturally; or a combination approach may be optimal.

Antiviral medications can have side effects, including nausea, vertigo, stomach upset, constipation, fatigue, dizziness, pain, vision problems, behavior changes, diarrhea, and hair loss. Taking a medication long term can create more serious issues and may not be ideal. Talk to your doctor about any negative issues that come up when taking medication.

High doses of lysine or other supplements can throw your body chemistry off and may have additional medical consequences. Talk to your medical provider before making significant diet changes or taking supplements. Most of the time, natural remedies like positive lifestyle changes are relatively risk-free.

It may take trial and error to work out what will be the best way for you to manage and minimize herpes outbreaks, and your treatment plan may need to change over time. Discuss your overall approach with your health care provider.

References

Herpes Simplex Virus. (January 2017). World Health Organization (WHO).

Herpes Simplex. (2018). American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) Association.

10 Home Remedies for Herpes. (March 2019). Natural Food Series.

Alternative Treatments for Genital Herpes. (November 2018). WebMD.

Herpes Treatment. (2019). American Sexual Health Association (ASHA).

Lysine and Herpes Reoccurrence. (2019). International Council on Amino Acid Science.

Arginine and Its Effects on Viral Replication. (April 2017). BioCeuticals.

Acyclovir. (June 2017). U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM).