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Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted disease caused by the herpes simplex virus. There are two types of herpes viruses, HSV-1 and HSV-2. Symptoms of herpes include cold sores and blisters around the genitals and/or rectum. Forty percent of herpes victims only experience one outbreak, but the majority deal with these painful sores five or more times per year. Herpes outbreaks can be prevented by controlling lifestyle and diet and by taking extra vitamins, minerals and herbs.
The herpes virus lies dormant in the nerve cells near the spine most of the time, but when it reappears, it brings blisters that fill with fluid and remain on the victim for around two weeks at a time. Stress and fatigue can bring about outbreaks, so regular exercise, including walking, running and biking, can be employed to prevent them. Foods with a lot of the amino acid lysine, such as fish, chicken and vegetables, should be consumed to ward off the sores. Foods like chocolate, nuts, and seeds are high in another amino acid called arginine, which brings on the outbreaks, so these should be avoided.
Stress-relieving herbs, vitamins and minerals can also provide extra nutrients that build up the immune system against herpes outbreaks. When too much stress weakens the immune system, the body’s defenses are lowered, and the patient becomes susceptible to more outbreaks. The herb Siberian ginseng helps the body fight against stress by contributing to the health of the adrenal glands, which produce the stress hormones. This herb also provides more energy and durability.
Supplements that contain a bovine thymus gland extract can lead to fewer and milder herpes outbreaks because the outbreaks are caused by the thymus gland failing to produce the blood cells that fight viruses. These supplements can be purchased in health food stores. Echinacea, another herb that helps prevent herpes outbreaks, contains antiviral ingredients that produce more white blood cells and properdin, a chemical that helps destroy viruses in the immune system. Echinacea also increases the amount of interferon in the body, which stops the herpes virus proteins from multiplying. The herb licorice also increases the body’s levels of interferon and strengthens immunity to the herpes virus by halting the process of viral replication.
Zinc and vitamin C are additional supplements that strengthen the immune system and speed the healing of the blisters resulting from herpes outbreaks. Vitamin A addresses the symptoms of the blisters and eases the pain. Vitamin E safeguards the white blood cells from other viruses and hastens the healing process. These vitamins, combined with herbs, the proper diet and a healthy amount of exercise, can prevent and/or shorten herpes outbreaks and hasten the healing process of the blisters and cold sores.