Herpes is a viral condition involving either herpes simplex viruses type 1 (HSV-1) or type 2 (HSV-2). The virus is transmitted from skin to skin contact and once infected, lays dormant in the nerve root cells. It can lay dormant for many years, when an outbreak occurs, the virus travels down the sensory nerve to the skin where it forms small blisters on the skin which can grow together to form one larger looking lesion.
The lesions usually affect the genital area or the area around the mouth and less commonly can affect the eye region, the fingers/toes and any other area of the body that may come into contact with the HSV virus (often caused during contact sports-called Herpes gladiatorum). Herpes are also involved in certain infections such as encephalitis (cerebral herpes) and meningitis (Mollaret’s meningitis), Bell’s palsy. Shingles/chickenpox are not caused by the herpes virus despite the name confusion, but two viruses belong to the same viral subfamily.
Herpes is thought to be incurable, but there is debate about that fact. That is generally the stand of medical Western doctors whose only method of attack are antiviral medications. There is accumulating scientific evidence that it is possible to cure the virus. One important factor in keeping outbreaks away while there is a latent (hidden infection) is keeping the immune system strong. Look for ways to keep the immune system strong in the lifestyle tips at the bottom of the page.
The Facts on Herpes
- 1 out of 5 women aged 14-49 are infected with genital herpes.
- 1 out of 9 men aged 14-49 are infected with genital herpes.
- Most cases of oral herpes are from exposure during childhood and are not sexually transmitted.
- Herpes is still contagious whether there are visual signs or not.
- Most people are unaware that they even have genital herpes because the symptoms can be very mild.
- Genital herpes can be caught from contact of HSV-1 or HSV-2 during sexual contract from genitals to mouth or genital to genital contact.
- It was previously thought that HSV-1 only infected the mouth area and HSV-2 only affected the genital area, but this is not thought to be case anymore. Either strain of herpes simplex virus can affect any area.
Symptoms of Genital Herpes
The symptoms of herpes can often be very mild and mistaken for other problems such as; jock itch, yeast infections, razor burn or allergic reactions to detergents.
After the first becoming infected, a person may feel;
- Tingling or burning from 2- 20 days after initial contact with infected person
- Cluster of blisters anywhere around the genital areas-inside or near the vagina, the cervix, on the external genitals, near the anus or on the thighs or buttocks
- There may be enlarged lymph nodes in the groin area
- After the blisters burst, painful sores will remain and last 2-3 weeks
- During the first attack, fever, muscle soreness and headache may occur
The only sure way to be positive it is herpes is to get tested.
Risks factors for Herpes
The most serious risk from herpes is in a pregnant woman passing the virus to a newborn which can be very serious, causing brain damage and can even cause death. Although serious, it is rare. Herpes infection can also lead to miscarriage or premature birth.
How Chinese Medicine Treats Herpes
Herpes virus has been with humanity from the very beginning. Scientists have used the herpes virus to trace the migration of the earliest humans out of Africa. Needless to say, Traditional Chinese Medicine has also been developing effective treatments throughout it’s history over the last 5000 years.
Herpes is known to be a pattern of fire-toxin and damp-heat. Infection in general is seen as invasion of a toxin, while the characteristics of the hot, burning, redness, the fact that it is aggravated by hot weather and spicy food indicate heat, and the wet fluid filled blisters indicate dampness.
Treatment is focused on either the acute attack or preventing future outbreaks. During an acute attack, we focus on clearing the fire and toxin from the body with strong heat clearing herbs which are antiviral in nature and on drying dampness with herbs. During the dormant stage, we seek to find the reason that the virus is activated, which is generally due to a combination of Qi (energy) deficiency and liver fire.
With liver fire, these people often feel warm and are aggravated by heat. Liver fire can be from eating food that is too warm such as spicy food or barbecued meats, or from long standing frustration and anger. The outbreaks related to liver fire are often triggered by a particularly stressful event or traveling to a hot damp climate or by overconsumption of spicy, greasy foods.
Qi deficiency (weakness of the life force energy) is related to a weakened immune system. When the immune system is low, the herpes virus can come out of dormancy to attack. Qi deficiency can be a result of congenital weakness, poor diet for many years or general overwork without adequate rest.
Book An Appointment
To prevent contracting herpes and for management of the infection, the following lifestyle recommendations should be followed.
- Being in a long term monogamous relationship with a partner that has been tested and is known to be uninfected
- Get checked and ask any new sexual partners to get checked for herpes infection
- Use a condom with new or if you have multiple partners, but be aware that herpes is spread by skin to skin contact, so infection can still occur on areas that are not covered by a condom
- Avoid sexual contact while there is a current outbreak
- Keep the immune system strong with garlic, propolis, eating lots of vegetables and avoiding processed and genetically modified foods
- Drinking tea made from Dandelion plant can strengthen the immune system, clear out toxic heat and dry dampness.