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The two herpes simplex viruses, HSV-1 or HSV-2, trigger oral or genital herpes 1. They enter through the body's moist surfaces, such as the mouth, the head of the penis or the vaginal membranes, or through cracks in the skin. After entering the body, the viruses take up residency in the nervous system. Here, they lie dormant until they give rise to an outbreak. While no food or medicine can kill the virus, there are ways to reduce and even prevent herpes outbreaks.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
When the herpes viruses enter the body, HSV-1 hides in the nervous system close to the ear, whereas HSV-2 hides at the base of the spine 1. Both viruses can trigger herpes outbreaks, which start as blisters that eventually turn into sores. Outbreaks normally reduce in frequency over time. Though HSV-1 typically causes cold sores, whereas HSV-2 causes genital herpes, both viruses can lead to sores anywhere in the lower and upper regions of the body 1.
Though there is no way to kill off herpes viruses, you can reduce and even prevent outbreaks from occurring. The key to preventing outbreaks is a healthy body, a strong immune system and lack of stress. Garlic may help prevent outbreaks owing to its high content of antioxidants. Antioxidants are chemicals that destroy foreign intruders that can damage cell membranes and modify genetic material. Eating lots of garlic can thus make it more difficult for the herpes viruses to generate blisters and sores on your skin. Prepared foods high in garlic include Mediterranean foods such as tzatziki and hummus, Italian pasta dishes and Thai and Indian curries.
Vitamin C is key to a strong immune system. It raises the serum levels of three key antibodies in the immune system: IgM, IgA and C3. IgA antibodies are present in great quantities on moist surfaces, the surfaces through which the herpes viruses enter. Here, they attack the viruses before they get a chance to enter your body. IgM attacks foreign intruders that manage to enter the body, and it furthermore activates the rest of the immune system, which includes the complement component C3. Foods high in vitamin C include:
Essential Fats and Amino Acids
Stress and anxiety can weaken the immune system and cause herpes outbreaks, so eating foods that prevent stress and anxiety may be able to reduce or prevent herpes outbreaks. The main biological cause of stress and anxiety is a low level of the neurotransmitter serotonin 5. The brain synthesizes serotonin from the essential amino acid, or protein building block, tryptophan. Good sources of this nutrient include fish, turkey, tofu, chickpeas and sunflower seeds. The proper function of serotonin furthermore requires essential fatty acids, such as:
- which is found in eggs
- flax oil
Garlic may help prevent outbreaks owing to its high content of antioxidants. IgA antibodies are present in great quantities on moist surfaces, the surfaces through which the herpes viruses enter. Eating lots of garlic can thus make it more difficult for the herpes viruses to generate blisters and sores on your skin.
- Herpes: The Truth about HSV-1 and HSV-2
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Garlic
- "Journal of Psychiatry and Neurosciece"; How to Increase Serotonin in the Human Brain without Drugs; Simon N. Young; November 2007
- Omega 3 Fish Oils and Diet Help Alleviate Depression, by Dr. Barry Sears
- Science Daily: Why Serotonin Can Cause Depression and Anxiety
- johnandersonphoto/iStock/Getty Images