Herpes: Natural Remedies and Essential Oils

Herpes is a very common viral disease. The CDC reports that “Nationwide, 16.2%, or about one out of six, people 14 to 49 years of age have genital HSV-2 infection.” Although, there are other reports that state that the infection rate is much higher.

Herpes is caused by the Herpes Simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) and type 2 (HSV-2). Type I, or “oral herpes” generally occurs around the mouth. It is often referred to as cold sores or fever blisters. Genital Herpes (Type II) is the second most common form of herpes and occurs around and on the genitals. Quite often, people can be infected while showing no outward signs of infection.

Herpes is spread through direct contact with a person who has the virus. The virus does not live for long outside the body, so it is very unlikely to “catch” the virus by sharing showers or toilets. There is no cure for herpes. Once infected, a person will always retain the virus, although he/she may not experience any outbreaks. The virus may lie dormant in the body for years. Unfortunately, it is still possible to spread the infection.

It is not known exactly what causes recurrent outbreaks, but some triggers have been identified, including immuno-suppressant drugs, alcohol, processed foods, colas, white flour products, sugar, refined carbohydrates, coffee and drugs. Outbreaks may occur during times of stress or when the immune system is compromised. Fortunately, over time, episodes of active disease generally reduce in frequency and severity.

There are medications available to reduce the occurrence, severity, or length of outbreaks. But these medications often come with unwanted side-effects, including: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and headaches. Alopecia and kidney issues have also been reported. Use of these drugs has also produced resistant strains of the viruses.

There are many natural remedies that are available and they are inexpensive as well as healthful:

  •  5,000 to 10,000 mg of vitamin C daily may prevent and inhibit the growth of the virus.
  • Oral supplements of zinc (50 mg/day) have been beneficial in clinical studies.
  • 300 to 1,200 mg daily of lysine, together with a diet low in its contrasting amino acid arginine (avoid peanuts, chocolate, seeds, and cereals). The amino acid lysine prohibits growth of H. simplex virus while arginine stimulates its growth.
  •  Avoid alcohol, processed foods, colas, white flour products, sugar, refined carbohydrates, coffee and drugs.

Do not consume citrus fruits and juices while the virus is active.

Herbs:

  • Herbal treatments should include: Echinacea, goldenseal, myrrh, and red clover.
  • Melissa herbal extract and licorice root have topical antiviral activity and inhibit the growth and cell-damaging effects of H. simplex.

Get plenty of rest and reduce stress.

Essential oils have been used for centuries for their antiviral as well as their immunos-timulating properties. Among those that have been found to be most effective with the Herpes Simplex viruses are:

  • Melissa (lemon balm)
  • lavender
  • peppermint
  • geranium
  • tea tree
  • star anise
  • eucalyptus
  • chamomile

Adding 1 drop of an individual oil or a combination of oils to the affected area 3-4 times a day has been shown to ease pain, and reduce the severity and length of the outbreak.

One study on the “Efficacy of plant products against herpetic infections” conducted at Heidelberg University in Germany showed the effectiveness of Melissa (lemon balm), tea tree, and peppermint oil in treating genital herpes:

“Essential oils from various aromatic medicinal plants are highly active against some viral infections, e.g. labial herpes caused by herpes simplex virus type 1. Balm oil, tea tree oil and peppermint oil demonstrate in vitro a significant antiherpetic activity, mainly related to a direct drug-virus particle interaction, some essential oils also act directly virucidal. Interestingly, these essential oils are also highly active against acyclovir-resistant herpes simplex virus strains. In clinical studies, tea tree oil has been shown to possess antiherpetic, anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties, as well as to accelerate the healing process of herpes labialis. Applying diluted essential oils three to four times daily for the antiherpetic treatment of affected areas is recommended. Some companies have marketed plant products, e.g. from Melissa, for the treatment of recurrent herpetic infections.” 1

A second study from the same department shows the effectiveness of essential oils against Acyclovir-resistant strains of the herpes virus.

“Acyclovir-resistant clinical isolates of herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) were analyzed in vitro for their susceptibilities to essential oils of ginger, thyme, hyssop, and sandalwood. All essential oils exhibited high levels of virucidal activity against acyclovir-sensitive strain KOS and acyclovir-resistant HSV-1 clinical isolates and reduced plaque formation significantly.” 2

 

Many noted experts on essential oils recommend essential oils for herpes outbreaks:

Valerie Worwood recommends: Geranium, tea tree, lavender, thyme, lemon, chamomile, rose, hyssop.

Julia Lawless recommends: Bergamot, eucalyptus (blue gum), lemon, and tea tree.

Davis recommends combining 6 drops of each: bergamot, tea tree, and eucalyptus in 5 mL of alcohol. Dab as soon as first signs appear to stop development of blisters.

Salvatore Battaglia recommends: Bergamot, cajeput, geranium, lemon, Melissa, niaouli, ravensara, rose otto, tea tree.

Wabner suggests three applications of undiluted Melissa oil directly onto the blister for one day. The herpes usually disappears within 24 hours. Apply only to blister as irritation may be caused to surrounding skin.

Although it is not possible to rid the body of the herpes virus, we are able to make living with it an easier task.

Recipes

ACHS Herpes Application

2 oz distilled water

Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens)½ oz

Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus) ¼ oz

Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)¼ oz

Apply to the affected area several times per day. Shake well before using.

Worwood Recipe:

8 drops Geranium

3 drops Lemon

6 drops German Chamomile

8 drops Tea tree

5 drops Lavender

Combine all oils. Wet a cotton ball and ad 1 drop of the blend and apply to the cold sore once a day.

References:
1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21607799
2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17353250
TISSERAND, R, BALACS T, ESSENTIAL OIL SAFETY A GUIDE FOR HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONALS, 1996, CHURCHILL LIVINGSTONE, UK.
BATTAGLIA, S, THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO AROMATHERAPY, 1995, PERFECT POTION, AUSTRALIA
LAWLESS, J, THE ILLUSTRATED ENCYCLOPEDIA OF ESSENTIAL OILS, 1995, ELEMENT BOOKS, UK
WORWOOD, V, THE COMPLETE BOOK OF ESSENTIAL OILS AND AROMATHERAPY, 1991, NEW WORLD LIBRARY, US ACHS AROMATHERAPY CLASS STUDY GUIDE
HTTP://WWW.CDC.GOV/STD/HERPES/STDFACT-HERPES.HTM