Herpes simplex virus (HSV), which leads to "cold sores", is a recurrent viral infection that is caused by Herpes virus hominis (HVH), a most widespread infectious agent. Attempts at controlling this infectious disease as well as latent infections associated with herpes viruses is an area presently being actively explored.
Research being performed at universities, alternative and allopathic research centers, and pharmaceutical companies directed at learning more about the replicative cycle of these viruses in order to develop safe antiviral therapy is yielding new and important information.
The human herpes viruses, which include Herpes simplex virus types 1 and 2, human cytomegalovirus, Varicella-Zoster virus, and the Epstein-Barr Virus, either cause or are associated with a whole spectrum of diseases ranging from infectious mononucleosis to malignancies and mental retardation. Indeed, the herpes viruses are multipotential, having the ability to cause more than one kind of disease.
The virus starts to multiply when it gets into the skin cells. The skin becomes red and sensitive and, soon afterwards, one or more blisters or bumps appear. The blisters first open, and then heal as new skin tissue forms. During a first outbreak, the area is usually painful and may itch, burn or tingle. Flu-like symptoms are also common. These include swollen glands, headache, muscle ache or fever. Herpes may also infect the urethra, and urinating may cause a burning sensation.
First Infection or Primary Outbreak in the Mouth
Herpes of the mouth and face usually infect children under the age of five years. About 95% of these children experience no signs of illness or rash during the first infection. Initially, the appearance of a small ulcer at the corner of the mouth or edge of the nostrils shows up during the third to fifth recurrence of infection. Typically, a child will catch the virus from a friend or family member who has a cold sore. About two to ten days after being exposed to the virus, the child may develop a high fever, stop eating, and become very fretful. The mouth becomes sore and the gums, the inside of the mouth, and the lips turn very red and swollen. Many blisters appear in the same area and break down to raw red ulcers after a day or two. There is usually a swelling of the glands in the neck and other parts of the body may become infected. An adult who has not already been infected with herpes may develop similar disease and be even sicker than a child. The body rallies to the defense and everything returns to normal after a week to ten days. The fever and swelling disappear followed by the sores healing over without leaving any scars.
Recurrent Herpes of the Mouth
During the first attack (primary outbreak), the herpes virus has climbed through the nerves to the base of the brain seeking protection from the body's defenses by going dormant. These evasive viruses hide in the deep nerve ganglion cells that run to the mouth and skin around it.
One day, several months or even years later, the virus may awaken again. This awakening is usually caused by some form of stress or fever. The herpes virus, once awakened, travels back down the nerves and reappears inside your mouth, nose or around your lips to produce the familiar blistering cold sores. Most of the time you will have some warning that the attack is about to begin. This shows up as numbness or a tingling sensation in the area, medically known as prodromal symptoms. The blisters come shortly thereafter, breaking into red ulcers, and then crust over and heal without scarring in a few days. Generally a recurrent episode is less disruptive to the body as a whole. In effect, you will not have the same pain and discomfort in your mouth that the first attack produced.
If you think you have the virus, see a doctor while symptoms are still present. The doctor will look at the area, take a sample from the sore(s) and test to see if the herpes virus is present. The test you should request is a specific virus culture or assay for herpes virus. Remember, the test will not work if the sores have healed. Known available tests are: Cell Culture Test, Antigen test, Pap Smear.
Although there is no cure, there are measures that can be taken to reduce manifestations.
The amino acid lysine often controls herpes. Supplementation with free-form lysine has shown to be beneficial in controlling herpes along with a diet high in lysine and low in arginine. It has been found that foods high in I-Arginine may cause herpes outbreaks. Increased levels of lysine over arginine suppress viral replication and inhibit cytopathogenicity of herpes simplex virus. L-Lysine appears to be an effective agent for reduction of the occurrence, severity and healing time for recurrent HSV infection. Several doctors have reported that if lysine use reduces herpes outbreaks, an immunological imbalance is present. Treatments aimed at immune system improvement have been effective in eliminating or reducing recurrence.
Foods high in lysine and low in arginine include most fruits and vegetables, fish, chicken, beef, lamb, milk, cheese, beans, brewer's yeast and mung bean sprouts. Gelatin, chocolate, carob, coconut, oats, whole-wheat and white flour, peanuts, soybeans, and wheat germ have more arginine than lysine and should thus be avoided. To quote one study, "The amount of lysine required to control herpes varied from case to case but a typical dose to maintain remission was 500mg daily and active herpes required 1 to 6gm between meals to induce healing."
Drs. Kagan, Griffith and Norins at the UCLA School of Medicine found of 45 patients receiving L-Lysine for herpes, only two failed to respond (a 96% success rate). The patients were receiving about 1500mg L-Lysine daily.
Lysine supplements (as opposed to foods high in this nutrient) can play an important role in staving off and reducing the severity of herpes-related cold sores. Results of a six-month trial involving more than 50 people indicate that lysine is far more effective than a placebo in preventing cold sores. Participants given a placebo had more than twice as many such infections as those taking lysine. Moreover, the herpes sores that did develop in the lysine group tended to be milder, and to heal faster, than the outbreaks in the placebo group. Lysine supplements may even prevent HSV outbreaks in chronic sufferers. General advice is to take 1,000mg L-lysine three times a day with meals for flare-ups. If you are subject to recurrent outbreaks of cold sores, continue on a maintenance dosage of 1,000mg per day.
Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) is a potent deactivator of lipid-enveloped viruses. Many people throughout the USA are using BHT to successfully keep the lesions dormant, with no sores as long as they consume BHT regularly. Some people develop sores once every 3-4 months opposed to higher frequency when not using BHT. The majority of those who use lysine regularly along with 750-1,000mg of BHT daily keep the sores from ever occurring. The only human antiviral test that has been conducted with BHT was for herpes, the outcome of which was successful.
People who have active herpes virus should not consume much – if any – coconut due to its high arginine content. Arginine can aggravate herpes and bring on an outbreak. They should also avoid any other substance high in arginine. Coconut has been shown through both clinical trials and anecdotal evidence to have some anti-viral properties, but not against the herpes virus.
To prevent chaffing, some people also find it helpful to avoid tight-fitting undergarments.
Researchers are finding a tremendous link between increased intake of broccoli, cabbage and Brussels sprouts and the reduction in severity and frequency of herpes simplex. A nutrient combination that includes the active substance in these three vegetables, Indole 3 Carbinol, is available in a professionally manufactured combination called DIM/13-C. This formulation is effective at inhibiting the growth and reproduction of the herpes simplex cells.
A healthy immune system may be important in controlling the virus, so proper nutrition, exercise and rest is recommended.
During an outbreak, keep the infected area as clean and dry as possible. This will help your natural healing processes. Some doctors recommend warm showers in order to cleanse the infected area. Afterwards, towel dry gently, or dry the area with a hair dryer on a low or cool setting. Most creams and lotions do no good and may even irritate.
A Herpes/Papilloma Virus Panel (Blood and Swab) can test for the presence of Epstein Barr Virus (EBV), Cytomegalorvirus (CMV), Herpes simplex Viruses (HSV 1 and HSV 2 combined), Human herpes Virus-6 (HHV-6) and Human papilloma Viruses (HPV 6, 11, 16, 18).
Dr. R. Mattassi of Italy in his 1982 study found that 24 out of 27 people with Herpes simplex stayed in remission with up to a 3 year follow-up. He also showed that all lesions went into remission after a maximum of 5 ozone injections.
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