Herpes is a virus, but that means no known cure will prevent the symptoms from returning. If we are to believe conventional medicine, there is really no cure yet, just antiviral medications. But do you know that there are effective, powerful, and natural herpes treatment available that you can do at your home? You might not be able to cure the virus that causes herpes, but you can alleviate symptoms and prevent it from coming back.
What is Herpes?
Herpes, whether it’s on the mouth or genitals, is caused by a family of more than 70 related viruses. It causes small, fluid-filled blisters on the skin and mucous membranes. The most common types of herpes simplex viruses are HSV-1 and HSV-2.
HSV-1 usually causes cold sore breakouts around the mouth, which some people describe as fever blisters. A person can become infected with HSV-1 as a child, and then the virus can lay dormant in the body until the immune system is weakened. This type of herpes is transmitted through saliva.
Meanwhile, HSV-2 is commonly known as genital herpes, as it usually causes cold sores around the genitalia. It affects up to 1 in 3 adults, though most who are infected don’t even know it because it has no symptoms. Genital herpes is acquired from direct contact with herpes blisters, genital secretions, and mucosal surfaces. To prevent the contraction of genital herpes, a person must abstain from vaginal, oral, or anal sex with anyone who has the virus.
The herpes virus can live dormant inside a person’s immune system and periodically cause blisters that burst and turn into open cold sores or ulcers before it heals. When it’s left alone, the cold sores last about 10-14 days and are uncomfortable for different reasons – causing redness, burning, pain, and often embarrassment.
Technically, the herpes virus itself (whether on the mouth or genitals) is not yet curable, but there are many natural herpes remedies that can put it into remission. Many people with herpes do not experience any symptoms at all, especially once they learn to manage what triggers the outbreaks.
Risks factors for acquiring herpes include:
- Kissing a person with an active herpes virus
- Sharing personal items that touch the mouth, face, and genitals like toothbrushes, towels, straw, cups/drinks, utensils, lip balm, makeup, etc.
- Spreading through contact with cold sores on the eyes, fingers, or ulcers or sores on buttocks and upper thighs
- Having other illnesses that lower immunity
- Eating a poor diet that causes nutrient deficiencies
- Engaging in any form of unprotected sex
- Having sex with multiple partners
- Smoking cigarettes, abusing drugs, and drinking high amounts of alcohol
Natural Ways to Relieve Herpes
Here are some things you can do to treat herpes naturally. There are foods you can take and products you can use to help reduce symptoms of an outbreak and things you can do at home to prevent it:
1. Boost your nutrient intake by making diet changes
Not everyone who has herpes experiences the breakouts of cold sores throughout his lifetime. However, how often the cold sore outbreak and how contagious one can become after infection, and how long it takes for the sores to heal will depend on the person’s immune response. To improve immune function, you must boost your nutrient intake. These are the foods to include in your regular diet to keep the virus dormant as long as possible:
- Brightly colored vegetables, especially in red and orange, contain higher vitamin C levels, carotenoids, and bioflavonoids that can raise overall immunity.
- Clean and lean proteins – these help the body to heal. These include pasture-raised poultry, grass-fed beef, wild-caught fish, eggs, and oats.
- L-lysine-rich foods – examples are vegetables, fish, turkey, legumes, and chicken. L-lysine-rich foods are known to prevent the replication of viruses.
- Zinc-rich foods – help the body fight infection. These include nuts and seeds, wheat germ, chickpeas, spinach, and organ meats like liver.
- Coconut oil – it has antiviral and antimicrobial properties.
- Antioxidant-rich veggies – help minimize inflammation. These include tomatoes, kale, spinach, and cauliflower.
- Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids – help the immune system fight inflammation. These foods include wild-caught fish like salmon and mackerel, flaxseed, and chia seeds.
- Vitamin B-rich foods – can boost your immune response. You can get this vitamin from eggs, green beans, spinach, and broccoli.
2. Avoid inflammatory foods
Certain foods can make herpes worse, so avoid these kinds of foods:
- Acidic foods – these may break open cold sores before they are healed. Limit your intake of beer, sodas, fruit juice, and processed foods.
- Added sugar – The sugars in the body are converted into acid. Choose naturally sweet foods like bananas and berries instead of foods high in sugar if you need a sugar fix.
- Alcohol – High amounts of alcohol and other drugs suppress immune function, making symptoms like skin inflammation, fatigue, and aches worse.
- Foods rich in L-arginine – these foods contain acids that can stimulate the replication of the herpes virus. It includes those foods with refined carbohydrates and chocolate.
3. Try topical solutions and essential oils
When used correctly, some topicals and oils can help speed up healing, numb discomfort, and relieve itch. Some topicals need to be diluted with a carrier oil, especially essential oils, while some can be applied directly to the affected area. Here are some solutions you can use to help treat the onset of sores in herpes:
- Essential oils – Some essential oils like clove oil, tea tree oil, myrrh oil, chamomile oil, ginger oil, eucalyptus oil, lemon balm oil, Greek sage oil, and thyme oil can be applied on the skin where a cold sore is present. These oils either have antiviral, antibacterial, soothing and virus-fighting abilities. These essential oils must be used in a tiny amount (only one to three drops) and mixed with a carrier oil like jojoba and coconut oil to dilute their strength. Essential oils can burn through your skin barrier if they are not diluted. You must also do a patch test before applying it fully to the already sensitive area.
- Aloe vera – Aloe vera accelerates the healing of wounds, and it can soothe and heal herpes lesions. Since it’s naturally mild and soothing, aloe vera doesn’t need to be diluted.
- Licorice root – Its active ingredient has antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties, making it a promising treatment for outbreaks. These can be applied directly to the skin without dilution.
- Echinacea extract – It can be an effective antiviral natural treatment against both strains of herpes simplex. It’s also anti-inflammatory, which can soothe existing outbreaks.
- Witch hazel – Witch hazel has antiviral properties that can help combat the herpes virus. Some people use it in pure form without experiencing irritation, while for others, it stings. If you have sensitive skin, use a diluted solution.
- Wild oregano oil – Oregano might be a condiment when dried, but when the oil is extracted from the plant, it’s a medicine. It has germ-killing agents and can also manage inflammation and irritation. Try using wild oregano oil for genital herpes, but make sure to dilute it to prevent it from stinging your genitals. Dilute 2-3 drops of oregano oil with one teaspoon of olive oil.
4. Try some tried-and-tested home remedies
You can do some home remedies that can help ease outbreak-related itching, stinging, and swelling. You probably already have these things in your medicine cabinet or kitchen.
- Warm compress – If you feel there’s a sore forming, apply heat as soon as possible. If it has already formed, the heat helps minimize the pain and swelling.
- Cold compress – You can also use this to reduce swelling. An ice pack or a clean and soft washcloth filled with ice can help soothe the affected area.
- Apple cider vinegar – ACV is known for its antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties. To reap this benefit, mix one part of ACV with three parts warm water, then apply it to the sore area.
- Topical garlic – Crush up a fresh clove of garlic and dilute it with olive oil. Apply this mixture to a sore three times a day. Garlic has antiviral properties that can be used to fight both strains of herpes.
- Cornstarch paste – Cornstarch paste can help dry out lesions and relieve itching. Dip a wet cotton ball to a small amount of cornstarch, then apply it to the affected area.
5. Remember these general do’s and don’ts
If you develop cold sores on your mouth or genitals due to herpes, here are some ways to improve healing, lower pain, and prevent transmission:
If you have a cold sore,
- Do use natural, mild soap and warm water on your sores.
- Do throw out your old toothbrush and use a new one.
- Do press a warm towel against the affected area to decrease pain. Sitting in a warm bath or taking a warm shower can also be soothing.
- Do load up on vitamin C and eat a healthy diet.
- Do use a hypoallergenic lip balm to protect your skin.
- Don’t share cups, drinks, towels, lipstick, or any personal item that touches your mouth and skin during the outbreak.
- Don’t try to pop, rub, or drain the cold sore while it’s healing.
- Don’t kiss someone if you have an open sore.
- Don’t touch any open sores. If you can’t avoid it, wash your hands each time you do.
- Don’t apply store-bought anti-itch creams or salves as it may worsen swelling.
If you have a genital herpes outbreak,
- Do wear cotton underwear and loose clothing.
- Do take long and warm showers to soothe the sore.
- Don’t soak in hot tubs or baths.
- Don’t share bath towels, and be careful to use a separate towel on your genitals.
- Don’t have sex. The virus might still be transmitted even if you use a condom.