Herpes and Ayurveda

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The herpes simplex virus causes painful and unsightly sores on the mouth or genitals. If you suffer from herpes and would like to pursue alternative treatments, the ancient Indian healing system of ayurveda offers some options. Ask your doctor whether this approach is safe and appropriate for you.

Herpes Simplex Virus

Herpes simplex virus type 1 is responsible for the mouth and face sores often known as cold sores or fever blisters. Herpes simplex virus type 2 causes genital herpes and is usually sexually transmitted. Both types of this highly contagious virus can lead to complications like infections of the bladder and rectum, and in severe cases, brain infections or meningitis. There is no cure for either type of herpes virus, but a healthy immune system may keep outbreaks from occurring or shorten their duration. These outbreaks can also be abbreviated or prevented with antiviral drugs like acyclovir and valacyclovir.

Balancing the Doshas

According to the ayurvedic system, disease is caused by imbalances among the three types of physical energy, or doshas. Each of the doshas – vata, pitta and kapha – is present in everyone’s system, though in most of us, one or two doshas are dominant. Vata energy creates creativity and intellectual growth and controls the circulation and heartbeat. Vata types tend to be thin, with dry hair and skin. Pitta forces control digestion, elimination and body temperature, and pitta types have sensitive skin and a fiery temperament. Kapha energy controls growth, moisture and the immune system. Kapha types are characterized by lush hair, oily skin, patience and forgiveness. In ayurveda, doshic imbalances are treated with a combination of dietary and lifestyle changes, and herbal medicines. A pitta imbalance can lead to a disruption in agni, the "digestive fire," putting you at risk of herpes outbreaks.

Ayurvedic Immune Support

Ayurvedic healing focuses on providing strength and balance to the whole system. Because the herpes virus cannot be eliminated from the body once it’s contracted, ayurvedic treatment for herpes works to control outbreaks by supporting agni for a healthy immune system. Healthy agni allows the body to absorb nutrition, assimilate emotional states and expel toxins. If you have contracted either type of herpes virus, try soothing imbalanced agni by avoiding spicy, hot and sour foods, alcohol, cheeses and sesame oil. An ayurvedic practitioner can recommend specific herbal blends and foods to balance your doshas and support your immune system.

Ayurvedic Treatments for Herpes Outbreaks

The ayurvedic approach to healing herpes outbreaks involves reducing psychological and physical stress, supporting the immune system and treating the sores themselves with herbal preparations. Try meditation and yoga to calm the body and mind. For mouth sores, the herb blend kama dudha can be mixed with cream to form a paste and applied topically. Other topical applications include bitter ghee and aloe vera gel. Triphala supplements or powder mixed with water helps restore balance to agni. Some practitioners suggest drinking a tea of brahmi, chamomile and jatamamsi and applying tikta ghrita to genital herpes sores. See an ayurvedic practitioner for specific recommendations.