Natural Treatments for Genital Herpes: Here Are Your Best Options
There’s no way around it — a diagnosis of genital herpes is a sucker punch right to the gut.
Take a few deep breaths and remember that this diagnosis is not the end of your social life or your dating life. With the right lifestyle changes, you can manage your symptoms and protect yourself and your partner.
While medications exist that can help manage genital herpes, some natural treatments have also shown efficacy in clinical research. If you’re not a fan of drugs and the side effects that can accompany them, these alternative treatments might be a good option for you.
Let’s take a look at how to naturally control the symptoms of genital herpes.
Medical Treatments for Genital Herpes
The herpes simplex virus (HSV) causes genital herpes. Type 2 of this stubborn virus, or HSV-2 frequently caused genital herpes outbreaks.
While type 1, or HSV-1, more commonly causes oral herpes, it’s possible to develop genital herpes through oral-to-genital contact with a person who has oral herpes, and vice versa.
Unlike bacterial infections, viral infections don’t respond to antibiotics, though cold and flu viruses typically clear from the body on their own. Unfortunately, a virus such as HSV-2 remains in the body long term and has no immediate cure. But that doesn’t mean a painful genital herpes outbreak is beyond your control!
The following natural treatments for genital herpes may reduce inflammation, soothe irritation, and treat other common symptoms of herpes sores. When you take advantage of the following options to minimize the effects of genital herpes, you may escape the worst effects of an outbreak, reduce the number of outbreaks, and get back to living your life.
How to Control Herpes Outbreaks Naturally: Diet and Supplements
Adding certain foods, vitamins, and supplements to your daily routine is an effective way to bolster your immune system. The stronger your immune system is, the better it suppresses the herpes virus to keep you outbreak-free.
Certain amino acids play an important role in helping your body fight off infection. For example, according to clinical research, the amino acid glutamine may limit infections while improving immune system function.
Research is still ongoing, but studies suggest daily supplementation of the amino acid lysine may reduce the recurrences of herpes outbreaks. Though lower doses of lysine show little effect, high doses of up to 3,000 milligrams per day may be beneficial. Other benefits of lysine include preventing canker sores, improving calcium absorption, and increasing collagen production. Collagen is essential for the health of your bones, cartilage, tendons, and skin, and promotes healing.
Add amino acids to your routine in the form of a daily supplement, or look for foods high in these beneficial nutrients.
Adding vitamin-rich foods to your diet is an excellent way to boost your immune system function to help fight viruses like HSV.
For example, foods rich in vitamin B6 (chickpeas, dark leafy greens, bananas, oranges, cantaloupe, etc.) promote a strong immune system and help your body create healthy red and white blood cells.
A vitamin B complex supplement is another great addition to your routine. The full range of B vitamins serves many critical roles in your body, including promoting healthy cell growth, maintaining metabolism, and producing energy. All these functions respond to active herpes outbreaks.
Other vitamins that boost your immune system include vitamins C, D, and E, which you can find in supplements or particular foods:
- To add vitamin C to your diet, eat whole foods like bell peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, white potatoes, strawberries, oranges, and kiwi.
- Vitamin D deficiency is common, and doctors often recommend taking a vitamin D supplement. You can also boost your vitamin D by spending more time in the sun.
- Foods rich in vitamin E include sunflower seeds and oil, soybean oil, almonds, peanuts, collard greens, spinach, and red bell pepper.
Taking a zinc supplement may also help you get over colds and other illnesses faster. Just an additional 15–30 milligrams per day can make a big difference.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Genital herpes causes inflammation, the symptoms of which are redness, swelling, irritation, and pain. Omega-3 fatty acids are indispensable in the battle against inflammation. Reducing inflammatory effects in your body may result in less severe herpes outbreaks that heal faster and are easier to manage.
Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids include walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, chia seeds, flax seeds, flax oil, vegetable oils, fish, and some greens, including spinach, kale, arugula, and romaine.
By incorporating more omega-3 fatty acids into your diet, you’ll supercharge your body’s response to inflammation and, in turn, limit or manage the effects of your next genital herpes outbreak.
Probiotics are known for their immune-boosting abilities. Research also shows that certain probiotic strains can limit herpes activity, as well.
Taking a probiotic supplement may also regulate your digestion by improving your gut health. In addition to digestion, scientists now believe your gut health impacts your immune system, heart, brain, sleep, and mood. It may even help prevent certain autoimmune diseases and cancers.
Other Food-Based Considerations
Some foods, when eaten in certain amounts, negatively affect your body’s ability to fight viruses. In you’re looking for ways to naturally control genital herpes outbreaks, you may consider limiting these types of foods.
One precaution: If you have a history of disordered eating or body dysmorphia, avoid making dietary changes — especially limiting or eliminating foods — without guidance from an experienced mental health professional. Taking care of your physical health is important, but protecting your mental health and overall well-being is equally important.
Heavily Processed Foods
Processed foods, which you normally find on the interior aisles of the grocery store, often contain synthetic ingredients and additives. These foods’ nutrients may also be partially stripped away due to extensive processing.
Freezer meals and refined grains, for example, often contain synthetic and processed ingredients that trigger oxidative stress. It’s important to keep your body’s oxidative stress low to promote healing during herpes outbreaks, and eating heavily processed foods may inhibit your body’s natural defenses.
The added sugar found in treats, desserts, and refined foods can affect your body’s immune function. Extra sugar promotes inflammation and even converts into acid, which may exacerbate the symptoms of a herpes outbreak.
How to Manage Genital Herpes Naturally With Compresses
Warm and cold compresses are the simplest natural treatments for genital herpes. Though the idea of a compress may sound old fashioned, prompt topical therapy can be effective in alleviating symptoms of herpes outbreaks.
Here are a few tried-and-true natural compress ideas to get you started:
- Dry, warm compress using warmed rice in a sock
- Cold compress using a covered ice pack or soft washcloth filled with ice
- Baking soda paste (baking soda mixed with water)
- Cornstarch paste (cornstarch mixed with water)
- Crushed garlic cloves mixed with olive oil
- Topical apple cider vinegar using one part ACV and three parts warm water
When you aren’t using a compress, be sure to keep the area clean and dry to avoid irritation. Loose-fitting clothing and cotton underwear can help.
Other Natural Treatment Options
Of course, no conversation about natural treatments for genital herpes is complete without discussing topical herbs and essential oils shown to accelerate healing, soothe itching, and improve comfort.
Aloe vera isn’t just for sunburn! Pure aloe vera offers antimicrobial, anti-fungal, and wound-healing properties that soothe herpes symptoms and encourage rapid healing. Additionally, aloe vera has anti-inflammatory properties that may reduce the swelling, redness, and pain of an active outbreak.
Certain essential oils, derived from the “essence” of plants, flowers, roots, and trees, are a widely available, cost-effective natural treatment for herpes outbreaks. Used since ancient times, essential oils have been used to treat a wide variety of conditions, from indigestion and burns to anxiety and respiratory problems.
A number of essential oils offer the healing, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory properties critical to managing genital herpes. A few examples include:
- Tea tree essential oil
- Ginger essential oil
- Thyme essential oil
- Greek sage essential oil
- Eucalyptus essential oil
- Peppermint essential oil
- Chamomile essential oil
Remember to mix essential oils in a carrier oil like coconut or jojoba oil to protect your skin from adverse effects.
Witch hazel has strong antiviral properties. When you feel the first sign of a new herpes outbreak — often a slight tingling sensation — it’s time to apply witch hazel. Use a cotton ball or clean microfiber cloth to apply witch hazel to the affected area to help your body fight the herpes virus trying to emerge.
High-Powered Light Treatment
A great alternative to medicinal treatments is high-powered light therapy, a groundbreaking addition to the existing options for natural general herpes treatments. Discovered by NASA in the 1990s, today light therapy can be administered through convenient at-home products like the Luminance RED.
Medically optimized light nourishes the skin with a 660 nanometer light wavelength, which your cells metabolize to accelerate the healing process and strengthen defenses against future attacks. Regular use of red light therapy not only shortens the healing time of active outbreaks, but also reduces pain and combats viral load in the body!
Wrap-Up on Natural Treatments for Genital Herpes
As you can see, there are many natural treatments for genital herpes to choose from. So, with persistence and patience, you can effectively manage your herpes outbreaks without prescription medications.
Remember, not all natural treatments are right for everyone. You may need to test a few before you find what works best for you!