Cranberry Juice & the Herpes Virus

Two stains of the herpes simplex virus, HSV-1 and HSV-2, are responsible for a variety of infections in the body. While HSV-1 is involved with sores and lesions of the mouth, lips and face, HSV-2 is transmitted sexually and causes genital ulcers. Fever and enlarged lesions are common in HSV infections. Some cases are mild and do not require any treatment. Antiviral medications may be prescribed to treat more severe infections. The role of natural products such as cranberry in treating herpes infections in humans, however, has not been proven conclusively.

About Cranberry

The ripe fruits of cranberry, or Vaccinium macrocarpon, plant have been used as a food and as a medicinal herb. It possesses significant antioxidant activity and helps stabilize the free oxygen radicals formed as a result of various metabolic processes in the body. Cranberry juice and supplements may also help prevent or treat urinary tract infections, ulcers, certain types of cancers and heart disease, although supporting scientific evidence is limited. The standard dose, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, includes 3 oz. of pure juice or about 10 oz. of cranberry juice cocktail.

In Vitro Study

A chemical present in cranberry juice known as proanthocyanidin may inhibit the growth of HSV-2 virus in the laboratory by preventing the attachment of the virus to the human cells, according to a study published in the January 2005 issue of the “Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture.” It is, however, important to remember that these results have been demonstrated in the laboratory only and more research is needed to understand its impact in actual clinical cases.

Side Effects

Cranberry juice is generally safe to use, although extremely large doses can lead to upset stomach and diarrhea. also states in rare cases, cranberry may lead to severe allergic reactions characterized by hives, rash and shortness of breath 1. It is important to seek immediate medical attention if you experience these symptoms.


Always talk to a doctor before using cranberry to treat herpes virus infections. Also remember that cranberry may not replace your existing medications as more research is needed to prove its efficacy.