Whether you suffer from genital herpes, caused by the herpes simplex 2 virus, or HSV-2, or facial cold sores caused by HSV-1, your doctor has probably told you that there is no cure. Pharmaceutical antiviral medications can help suppress herpes outbreaks and lessen their severity. Similarly, Chinese herbal treatments work to strengthen the body’s defenses against outbreaks. If you suspect you have herpes, talk to your doctor about treatment options.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
The herpes virus stays in your body indefinitely and becomes active periodically. When the virus is in an active phase, it expresses itself as blisters that typically appear on the face, in the case of HSV-1, or on the genitals or around the anus in HSV-2. In the first year after infection, people tend to experience four or five outbreaks. Over time, outbreaks become less frequent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention online 1. At this time there are pharmaceutical treatments that can prevent outbreaks, but there is no known way to eliminate the virus from your body.
- The herpes virus stays in your body indefinitely and becomes active periodically.
- When the virus is in an active phase, it expresses itself as blisters that typically appear on the face, in the case of HSV-1, or on the genitals or around the anus in HSV-2.
Traditional Chinese Theory
Ginger & Herpes
Traditional Chinese medicine, or TCM, views herpes outbreaks as a product of imbalance in your qi, or vital life energy. Qi flows through subtle energy channels in your body that correspond to your internal organs. With herpes, the liver channel becomes blocked with stagnant qi, producing what TCM practitioners call “phlegm”—a TCM term for the thickened, sluggish body fluids that result from stagnant qi. 2”
- Traditional Chinese medicine, or TCM, views herpes outbreaks as a product of imbalance in your qi, or vital life energy.
Chinese herbal treatments work by combining different herbs together, rather than focusing on the effect of an individual herb. The herbs in a TCM formula work synergistically to create a healing effect, according to the website Yin Yang House. Because of their complexity, Chinese herbal formulas require many years of training to prescribe and use safely. Never attempt to self-treat using Chinese herbal formulas. Always consult a TCM doctor who has training in the use of herbs.
- Chinese herbal treatments work by combining different herbs together, rather than focusing on the effect of an individual herb.
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One formula that a TCM doctor might recommend for herpes is a kudzu decoction, a popular formula that includes licorice, peony, ginger, jujube and cinnamon.include:
- One formula that a TCM doctor might recommend for herpes is a kudzu decoction
- a popular formula that includes licorice
The kudzu helps release any tightness in the body, while the other herbs increase circulation. In TCM terms, this formula is ideal for releasing infection, according to the late Phyllis A. Balch, certified nutrition consultant and author of “Perscription for Herbal Healing.” Balch notes that in one Japanese clinical trial, the kudzu decoction seemed to protect the body tissues from damage that the herpes virus causes when it reactivates 4.cause
- In TCM terms
- this formula is ideal for releasing infection
- according to the late Phyllis A
certified nutrition consultant
author of “Perscription for Herbal Healing.” Balch notes that in one Japanese clinical trial
* the kudzu decoction seemed to protect the body tissues from damage that the herpes virus causes when it reactivates 4.
TCM, Indian Ayurvedic and Bangladeshi Chakma herbal formulas contain bioactive compounds that could be the basis for future anti-HSV drugs, according to a 2005 review published in the journal “Antiviral Research” by Mahmud Tareq Hassan Khan and colleagues of the Pharmacology Research Laboratory at the University of Science and Technology in Chittagong, Bangladesh. The review found that a large number of molecules and compounds in traditional herbalism showed bioactivity against HSV. The team recommended that natural medicinal plant extracts deserve further investigation as researchers pursue new ways to fight herpes.
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- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Genital Herpes—CDC Fact Sheet
- “Chinese Medicine for Women: A Commonsense Approach”; Bronwyn Whitlocke; 2006
- Yin Yang House: TCM Herbal Medicine Database
- “Perscription for Herbal Healing”; Phyllis A. Balch; 2002
- PubMed: Extracts and Molecules from Medicinal Plants Against Herpes Simplex Viruses
- McQuillan G, Kruszon-Moran D, Flagg EW, Paulose-Ram R. Prevalence of herpes simplex virus type 1 and type 2 in persons aged 14–49: United States, 2015–2016. NCHS Data Brief. 2018;304.
- Tronstein E. Genital Shedding of Herpes Simplex Virus Among Symptomatic and Asymptomatic Persons With HSV-2 Infection. JAMA. 2011;305(14):1441. doi:10.1001/jama.2011.420
- World Health Organization (WHO). Herpes simplex virus. Updated January 31, 2017.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Genital Herpes - CDC Fact Sheet (Detailed). Updated January 31, 2017
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Genital Herpes - CDC Fact Sheet. Updated August 28, 2017.
- Chun H, Carpenter R, Macalino G, Crum-Cianflone NF. The role of sexually transmitted infections in HIV-1 progression: A comprehensive review of the literature. Journal of Sexually Transmitted Diseases. 2012;2013(176459):1-15. doi:10.1155/2013/176459
- Heslop R, Roberts H, Flower D, Jordan V. Interventions for men and women with their first episode of genital herpes. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2016 Aug 30;(8):CD010684. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD010684.pub2
- Jin F, Prestage GP, Mao L, Kippax SC, Pell CM, et al. Transmission of herpes simplex virus types 1 and 2 in a prospective cohort of HIV-negative gay men: the health in men study. J Infect Dis. 2006 Sep 1;194(5):561-70.
- Schulte JM, Bellamy AR, Hook EW 3rd, Bernstein DI, Levin MJ, et al. HSV-1 and HSV-2 seroprevalence in the united states among asymptomatic women unaware of any herpes simplex virus infection (Herpevac Trial for Women). South Med J. 2014 Feb;107(2):79-84. doi:10.1097/SMJ.0000000000000062