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Most people are aware of the potential risks of STD's that exist when engaging in sexual actions - but, sometimes there is an elephant in the room with the idea of herpes. Even though a huge percentage of the population has this virus (more than 50% has herpes 1 and 15.1% has herpes 2), it still is something people are often hesitant or shy to talk about. So lets dive right in, because I feel this is something that everyone should be aware and not afraid to talk about.

As understood, herpes is a sexually transmitted virus, but it can also be passed on during childbirth and be hereditary. There are two types of herpes 1 and 2, and they can be easily distinguished and understood from one another because herpes 1 is in the form of cold sores and mainly appears on and in the mouth and “above the belt”. Herpes 2 simplex is mainly found in the genital region and consists of flareups that can occur all over the body. Obviously, having an increased amount of sexual partners can increase your odds of contracting the virus, but it can also be contracted by sharing drinks, lip balms, utensils, etc, or even touching surfaces that others with a open lesion have touched. Initial symptoms of herpes virus can be similar to those of a cold or flu, whereas a slight fever, head and body aches, tiredness, etc can occur. On the area where the outbreaks occur, prior to it happening, it is very common to feel uncomfortable and slightly painful tingling. The virus lies dormant in nerve cell endings and when activated, they begin to multiply in the nerve endings and then travel up the nerve fibers where they attack , infect and destroy skin cells. This is why in many individuals it can cause neurological pain, because the virus literally uses these nerves as ways to travel to the skin. The virus is actually quite smart, and it is one that has evolved with humans for millions of years, and that it is so difficult for people to maintain, prevent, and treat.

The virus usually finds a pathway of “weak energy"in the body and occurs in that area. For instance, the only place that I have ever had an outbreak was on my hip bone, which throughout my life has always been an area of weakness - meaning that I seem to hold tension in that area (tight hip flexors, etc). It’s strange because I have never had one on my mouth or in any other area on my body. It just goes to show the virus can be “picky” with where it wants to surface on the body.

My immune system is incredibly strong, but it is also very sensitive. I found out I had herpes 1 when I was in high school, but it wasn’t until years later when I contracted herpes 2, which is because of getting involved in porn. I didn’t get an actual outbreak until years later, and it was very random. I didn’t even know what it was at first - I just remember feeling this uncomfortable and slightly tingling on my hip for a few days and then this weird lesion then formed. I tried scrubbing it and putting alcohol on it and it just didn't go away. Side note - funny enough, during that time, I was eating a lot of plant-based protein bars that were loaded with peanuts (which could have been a big trigger of why I got that outbreak - and I will bring up that food relation later). I finally decided to go to the dermatologist. The doctor did a biopsy and when the results came in and he told me it was the herpes simplex. I was shocked. He explained to me that depending on your body and your immune system, the virus can show up on random spots on the body, depending on how you contracted it and where you may have "points of stress" on the body. So that began my fascination with the food/lifestyle/nutrition connection with herpes.

What are the symptoms and outbreaks like? Are there pharmaceutical drugs available for herpes outbreaks?

The initial set on of herpes can often feel like a painful tingling prior to the actual outbreak. This is actual nerve damage occurring at the site and surfacing on the skin. When the lesions emerge, they look like sores and can have an "ooze" that comes out.

If you are seeking pharmaceutical therapy for herpes outbreaks, the most common drugs prescribed for the virus are acyclovir, famciclovir, and valacyclovir. Be aware that although these drugs may lessen the severity of outbreaks, they have many side effects and can cause more harm than good. I highly recommend trying alternative natural remedies and healthy lifestyle changes to manage herpes instead, which I will start to delve into now..

Now that we have a bit of the medical background of herpes, lets go on to some of the other options and information on herpes that most standard medical sites won't tell you.

Amino Acid Connection/Diet [Lysine Vs. Arginine]

So, a lot of people don't think about how the diet could affect herpes outbreaks, but the connection is actually crucial and can be a big game changer for many people with the virus. It has made a huge impact for me personally. I eat a mainly plant-based diet, and so I often would get larger amounts of arginine than lysine in my diet which I didn't realize was contributing to outbreaks. It wasn't until I did some research where I realized the connection. After an outbreak, I thought about what I was eating during that time and every time I was eating large of nuts/seeds, peanuts and plant-based proteins like sprouted brown rice or pea protein, which are all very high in arginine and low in lysine. After doing some digging on more holistic forums and websites, I realized the connection.

The ratio of lysine and arginine is very crucial to managing herpes. The herpes virus requires the non-essential amino acid arginine to duplicate and grow, so when the diet is higher in arginine than lysine, you are more likely to have a flareup. Arginine is especially high in foods such as chocolate, peanut butter, nuts and seeds, and grains, and also, unfortunately, bone-broth and collagen. It should also be noted that CITRULLINE is also a trigger because it is a precursor to arginine.

The herpes virus is suppressed through the essential amino acid lysine. This is an amino acid that is abundant in animal based proteins, like meat and fish, and especially milk products - yogurt and kefir, which are fermented and easy to digest, are great sources of this amino acid. Fruits and vegetables also have a higher lysine to arginine ratio and are almost all considered safe to eat. In addition to preventing herpes flareups, lysine is also a precursor for collagen and helps maintain elasticity of the skin and mucus membranes.

Simple solutions is to increase your lysine intake. Taking it in supplement form from 2000-3000 mg a day should be sufficient enough to keep the virus at bay. Eating lysine rich foods such as organic yogurt and kefir and organic free-range meats and poultry, and wild caught fish is a great way to increase your lysine intake. Increase the amount of organic fruits and vegetables in your diet.

Limiting the amount of arginine in your diet is also advised - cutting back on chocolate (raw cacao and processed cocoa), nuts, seeds, peanut butter, legumes and grains is recommended, and also keeping clear of work out supplements that contain arginine or citrulline (which is the precursor of arginine).

Supplements/diet to help with herpes

As we were talking about before about the amino acid connection with herpes, it is important to have a diet that will help strengthen your immune system and keep inflammation down. Some of the following supplements I strongly recommend to increase your immune system health which in return will help reduce herpes outbreaks, and in some people, prevent them all together.

1. Lysine - an amino acid that is found abundantly in animal proteins such as dairy, meats, poultry and fish. It prevents the virus from duplicating

2. Vitamins C, B-complex and zinc - all common nutrients that are known to boost the immune system and help to combat infection and viruses.

3. Antiviral herbs such as turmeric/curcumin, echinacea, garlic, astragalus root, wild oregano, licorice root, and elderberry that can also prevent inflammation and prevent viruses from growing.

4. Capyrlic acid (specifically from coconut oil) is a medium-chain fatty acid that is known to have antimicrobial and antiviral properties.

5. Omega 3 fatty acids, (docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)) that can prevent inflammation and have a myriad of health benefits. Specifically getting them from non-contaminated pure sources like krill, cod liver, wild caught fish.

5. Algae such as chlorella and spirulina that are nutrient dense superfoods, are anti-inflammatory, and great for detoxing.

Here are some of my favorite nutrition supplements for combatting herpes that you can get off Amazon.

Quantum Health Super Lysine+ / Advanced Formula Lysine+ Immune Support with Vitamin C, Echinacea, Licorice, Propolis, Odorless Garlic (180 Tablets)

NOW Supplements, Caprylic Acid 600 mg, Medium-Chain Triglycerides, 100 Softgels

NOW Supplements, Oregano Oil with Ginger and Fennel Oil, Enteric Coated, 90 Softgels

Green Foods Organic Chlorella 500 Mg, 120 Count

North American Herb & Spice Oreganol P73, 1 Fl Oz

Bulletproof Omega Krill Complex, Triple Strength Essential Fats with EPA, DHA, GLA and Astaxanthin, 1560mg Omega-3s Per Serving, Lemon Flavored (120 Softgels)

Garden of Life Zinc Vitamin - Vitamin Code Raw Zinc Whole Food Supplement with Vitamin C, Vegan, 60 Capsules

Jarrow Formulas Curcumin 95, Provides Antioxidant Support, 500 mg

Gaia Herbs, Quick Defense, Fast-Acting Immune Support, Echinacea, Ginger Root, Sambucus Black Elderberry, Vegan Liquid Phyto Capsules, 40 Count

HERP RESCUE #1 Best formula to clear skin FAST of Herpes, Cold Sores, and Shingles.- Full 30 Day Supply l Lysine, Zinc, Vitamin C, Oregano Oil, 120 Capsules

Stress Connection

Any time I have had a herpes breakout, it always seemed coincidental that it was during a very stressful time period in my life. Moving houses. Moving out. Fighting. Crazy traveling. Physical issues. There’s no surprise that stress causes a myriad of health issues, mainly because of the increase in cortisol and other stress hormones. This can cause a variety of inflammation in the body, including skin flareups of all types and autoimmune type of disorders. The immune system also becomes impaired and doesn’t work as efficiently during stressful time period, so this will be an opportunity for bacteria and viruses to become stronger or duplicate (case in point, a herpes outbreak). So managing stress is extremely important, and especially if you have a virus. Some of my favorite ways to manage stress are below

1. Get outdoors, especially out in nature! Go hiking, go on a walk at the beach, the park or even your neighborhood. Try to get to mountains, woods, or somewhere a bit more remote to really escape societal pressure and embrace nature. Take in your surroundings, breathe deeply and try to focus on being present in the moment and not the other things going on in your life.

2. Try doing yoga, fascial rolling, or deep stretching. All these benefit the body by releasing tension and helping become more limber. Practice deep breathing while doing them. Try going to a class or do it at home and use a book or at home-video or online instruction for guidance. Get a foam roller and focus on points of tension on the body and stretch in the areas where you feel stressed and tight!

3. Get a massage or use massage tools. The benefits of massage are plentiful. Not only does it release tension and stress in the body but it also helps with circulation and increasing collagen production by stimulating muscle and fascial tissue. It also helps relax the mind and help you get a peaceful sleep.

4. Spend time with friends and family and do fun, engaging activities. Try playing card or board games that stimulate the mind and encourage laughter. Spending quality time with people that create happiness is a beautiful way to relieve stress and develop quality connection with others.

5. Listen to podcasts, music, or audiobooks. Or read a book or watch a documentary! Learning new information is an awesome way to take your mind off of stress and when you learn new information, it makes you feel more productive and to feel better about yourself.

6. Write! The act of writing your thoughts down is almost an immediate way to relieve stress because you are literally articulating what is going on inside you in words and releasing them. Just that action alone helps you feel like you are extricating whats going on inside you in outward expression!

7. Exercise! Obviously, we all know regular exercise is important for being healthy - but it is amazing for managing stress. Compare yourself to a pet - when the pet is caged up all day and not allowed to play or exercise, it often is 'wound up' because it is stressed out from not being able to get its energy out! Getting proper exercise utilizes your body and has a myriad of benefits. It helps you handle stressful situations better and allows you to get healthier sleep.

8. Cook, bake and make healthy meals. The act of preparing meals (especially with other people you care about) is a very fulfilling thing because not only are you creating something from start to finish, you can take pleasure that it is your creation and you can appreciate the meal in its entirety because you know everything that went into making it. Its a good way to connect with food in a healthy way and when you're engaged in activity like this it keeps stress at bay.

9. Take adaptogenic herbs and supplements. I'm going to get in more depth of supplements targeted specifically for herpes. But for stress, adaptogenic herbs and certain supplements are great for helping your body to balance cortisol and stress hormones and to cope with external stimuli. Some of my favorite adaptogenic herbs are reishi mushroom, holy basil or tulsi, ginseng, ashwaganda, and hops extract. Other supplements I enjoy are theanine (which is found naturally in green tea extract), tyrosine, GABA b-complex, and taurine.

10. Decrease your caffeine and stimulants. Caffeine and stimulants naturally raise your cortisol and stress hormones, which in return will only increase your stress levels. In fact, decreasing your caffeine intake can have an almost immediate effect on your stress levels. Try instead replacing your caffeine with ginseng, cordyceps, b-complex, tyrosine and creatine. If you still want to drink caffeine, try matcha (which is rich in theanine and helpful in balancing cortisol), guayusa (which is the cousin of yerba mate "guayaki, and full of polyphenols and antioxidants which have a stabilizing effect on caffeine) or raw cacao, which is lower in caffeine but still has a stimulating effect because of the additional theobromine and other compounds.

Ozone therapy

This is another holistic alternative that uses the power of oxygen to combat herpes, and many other diseases and ailments that are notoriously hard to get rid of. I've included a segment below from Lifeworks Wellness Center which is a wonderful treatment center in Florida that offers a variety of healing treatments. They have described it as "one of the most effective treatments for herpes virus and all viruses is ozone therapy." According to Life Works Wellness Center, ozone therapy works by "improving blood circulation and detoxifies the blood and kills viruses, bacteria and fungi. It improves the uptake of oxygen into the blood and into the cells. It resets the mitochondria so they are able to function better and produce more energy for the body. And lastly, it boosts the immune system when necessary, or calms it down when it is overactive." If it is something that is in your financial budget, I highly recommend adding it to your regimen as not only will it help combat herpes, but also improve your overall quality of health.

Topical treatments

Now I want to talk about my top recommendations for topical treatments. We all know at this point that what you put in your body and your lifestyle can influence herpes outbreaks, but what you put on topically can also help speed up the process of eliminating and healing the lesions once they appear.

One of my favorite and powerful topical treatment that I utilize for outbreaks, and a variety of skin issues is essential oils. Essential oils are the concentrated chemical compounds of raw plant material, (consisting of the flowers, leaves, wood, bark, roots, seeds, or peel), extracted most commonly by the process of distillation. They are highly volatile and powerful, and must be used carefully when applying them to the skin.

The main reason I love to use essential oils for various skin ailments is because they are naturally antiseptic and antimicrobial and are very good for killing bacteria, fungi, and viruses. Individually they can be very potent, but when you combine them then their properties become even more strong. My top favorite essential oils for combatting herpes (and honestly any infectious skin issue) are tea tree oil, eucalyptus oil, sage oil, lemon oil, lemongrass oil, citronella oil, thyme oil, rosemary oil, lavendar oil, peppermint oil, bergamot oil, cedarwood oil, spearmint oil, and ylang ylang oil.

When using them, I recommend you mix a variety of the oils together (if you have only one or a few of them, that is fine too) with a carrier oil like organic raw coconut oil (which is also naturally antiviral), organic extra virgin olive oil, organic hemp seed oil, jojoba oil, or organic castor oil to dilute them a bit. Try to use carrier oils that are organic, raw, and undiluted to get the most benefits from them. To note, I have just used the essential oils straight on my skin, but it can burn and cause irritation, and it may be painful for some people. It does expedite the "killing" process of the outbreak and can cause it to scab up quickly, but like I said, it can be extremely painful and irritating for most people's skin, so mixing it with the carrier oil is probably your safer bet.

From there, take a q-tip or cottonball to apply the oil mixture directly to the skin. Let it sink in as much as possible and then to protect it and let is saturate the area, take a bandage (coat the inside of the bandage with the oil mixture too) and cover the area for as long as possible. Keeping it covered and saturated with the oil mixture will help to kill the virus and clear up the outbreak quickly.

If you don't have essential oils or prefer not to use them, other topical treatments I recommend are witch hazel, vodka, fresh aloe vera gel (directly from the plant), colloidal silver, apple cider vinegar and believe it or not - your URINE! The main point is to keep the lesions disinfected and saturated with compounds that will assist in killing the virus and prevent it from spreading anywhere else on your skin.

Here is a good starter essential oil set you can purchase off Amazon:

So! Now that we've run through herpes and some natural remedies on how to deal with it, I hope that you feel you have gained some insight and knowledge on how you can combat this virus and proudly stride forward in living the best life possible! Take care of your body - it is your vessel in this life!

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