No matter how one looks at the sexual revolution, it left behind in its aftermath a herpes outbreak epidemic. Herpes was feared in the 1970s, only to be overshadowed by the advent of AIDS in the early 1980s.
In today' s world, herpes is less publicized than AIDS but is far more prevalent, affecting in one form or another 80 percent of the American population. More than half of Americans are stricken with cold sores from time to time, the result of herpes simplex virus 1 (or HSV1).
Other people come down with shingles, a herpes zoster infection, usually many years after they have chicken pox. Some people also get Epstein-Barr, a form of herpes that causes mononucelosis. Others break out in genital herpes, an infection caused by herpes simplex virus 2 (HSV2).
Living at the base of the spine in the nerve cells, herpes is a contagious virus. Periodic attacks can occur whenever the immune system is operating at a deficiency. Emotional, mental or physical stress can all lower the body's defense system and create a climate suitable for a herpes outbreak.
Some common physical stressors on the body include illness, menstrual periods, vaginal yeast infections, too much sunlight, too much friction (which tends to break down skin cells), allergies and certain foods.
An attack can also be set off by prescription drugs that lower immunity. These medications can include steroids, antibiotics, and antidepressants. Also, genital herpes can be transmitted sexually, and pregnant women may transmit the virus to their unborn children via their blood or through direct contact during childbirth.
Genital herpes causes sores on the surface of the skin and the lining of the genital area. Herpes in men may cause penile blisters on the tip of the foreskin that turn into surface sores for several days before eventually healing. In women, such sores can appear on the vagina, cervix or the perineum. The sores can be accompanied by a discharge or vaginal blisters. The sores are often accompanied by a burning sensation, particularly at an outbreak's onset.
Other symptoms may include fever, urinary problems and lymphatic swelling. Intercourse is painful and should be avoided during an outbreak in order to prevent transmission sexually. HSV2 occurs intermittently and usually lasts from five to seven days.
Oral herpes attacks the skin and mucous membranes on the face, especially around the nose and mouth. These cold sores tend to appear as pearl-like blisters. While they are short term, they are frequently painful and irritating.
The result of the varicella zoster virus (VZV) is herpes zoster, causing agonizing blisters on one side of the body, typically on the abdomen or chest. The pain is usually felt before the effects can be seen. These symptoms can last anywhere from a few days to several weeks.
Treatments for Herpes
Unfortunately, there is no cure for herpes. However, drugs are commonly prescribed in order to lessen the severity of its symptoms. The best known of these medications is Cyclovir, also known as Zovirax, which supposedly reduces the rate of growth of the herpes virus.
Herpes medications have many potential side effects, including:
- General weakness
- Sore throat
- Bleeding of the gums
Additionally, Cyclovir ointment can also cause allergic skin reactions.
When herpes strikes, it is always a good idea to get plenty of rest and eat lightly. Drink plenty of pure water and cleansing herbal teas. Some good herbs to partake of include sage, rosemary, cayenne, echinacea, goldenseal, chaparral, red clover, astragalus, and burdock root.
Beneficial bacteria, such as that found in yogurt, or supplements of acideophilius and lactobacillicus support the digestive processes necessary for maintain a healthy immune system.
Some other nutrients that can directly enhance the immune system include garlic, quercetin, zinc gluconate, buffered vitamin C, and beta carotene or vitamin A. Also take 500 mg of the amino acid L-lysine two to four times a day. Bee propolis is an anti-inflammatory and is high in B vitamins, which combat stress. Other nutrients to consider are bee pollen, blue-green algae, and pycnogenol.
For Cold Sores
The following can be taken for treating cold sores:
- Natrurn muriaticum - Especially good for sores in the middle of the lips, this should be taken twice a day at a 30c potency.
- Petroleum - When cold sores erupt in patches and become loose and crusty around the lips and mouth, taking petroleum is indicated. Take a 9c potency three times per day.
- Phosphorous - For cold sores above the lips that are accompanied by itching and sharp pain, take 30c twice a day.
- Apis - This product helps cold sores that form around the mouth and lips that is accompanied by painful, stinging blisters that burn and itch. Take 6c three to four times daily.
For Female Genital Herpes
Some natural products to take for female genital herpes include the following:
- Natrurn muriaticum - When the herpetic lesions are pearl-like blisters and the genital area feels puffy, hot and dry, take 6c potency four times per day.
- Dulcamara - For women who get a herpes outbreak in clusters on the vulva, or on the hair follicles around the labia and vulva (every time they get their period or catch a cold), take 12 c potency two to three times daily.
- Petroleum - If herpes eruptions form in patches and the sores become very red and feel moist and tender, try this product. Such outbreaks usually occur during menstrual periods and most often affect the anus, labia, vulva or the perineum. Take a 9c potency three times per day.
Those people suffering from shingles can try:
- Arsenicum album - This remedy will be of benefit to most cases of shingles, particularly when the person feels worse in the cold and after midnight and feels better with warmth. When taken at the onset of an attack, take a 30c potency twice a day for two to three days.
- Hypericum perforatum - This is a good remedy for any type of nerve pain. When there is burning, tingling and numbness along the affected nerves, hypericum taken in a 30c potency two or three times daily may be beneficial.
- Balch, J.F. & Stengler, M. (2004). Prescription for Natural Cures: a self-care guide for treating diseases and health problems with natural remedies including diet and nutrition, herbal medicine, nutritional supplements, bodywork, and more. New Jersey: John Wiley and Sons Ltd
- De Vries, J. (1992). Skin diseases. Edinburgh : Mainstream
- Goodman, T. (1984).The skin doctor's skin doctoring book.New York : Sterling
- Papadopoulos, L. (2003). Understanding skin problems : acne, eczema, psoriasis and related conditions. Chichester, West Sussex : John Wiley and Sons Ltd
- Turkington, C., (1998). Skin deep : an A-Z of skin disorders, treatments and health. New York : Facts On File
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