Herpes -- Cold Sores, Genital Herpes & Shingles

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Finding a good herbalist

Much of what's written in this article is entirely suitable for a person to work through themselves but, especially if things are quite bad, or you just know that you need further help, then there may be a great deal of benefit to you to go to whatever lengths necessary to find a good herbalist or truly holistic practitioner to guide you on to a safe and strong treatment program. There's a short write-up to suggest how you might go about finding such a person here

Herpes - what are we up against?

Almost everyone, estimates are up to 95% of all people, has the herpes 1 virus in their systems though only some go on to get outbreaks of the cold sores that this causes.

Approximately 16% of the population has the herpes 2 virus that causes genital herpes though again less than 20% realise that they are infected.

Fewer people, less than 1% overall, get infected with the herpes zoster virus that causes shingles, though the risk and incidence of this increases with age.

All three of these problems share a common cause, the herpes virus. Viruses are weird organisms that are different to any other kind of life. They are true parasites that cannot reproduce without a host, but many can survive for long periods in states of suspended animation.

We eventually find a way to get rid of most viral infections but the herpes virus is one that manages to get inside the body and stay there, indefinitely. The goal in treating any form of Herpes is to get to 5 years with no outbreaks, then we can talk about a cure, and this is definitely achievable, as many cases have proven. The common ground for success is getting an immune system that is strong enough to stop the virus getting anywhere.

How to best achieve excellent immune health is, therefore, the most important subject to discuss here but, first of all, what can you do if you have an outbreak of herpes right now?

Hypericum perforatum (St John's wort)


Treating a current infection externally

The first thing anyone with an outbreak of herpes will want to do is to put something on it to make it go away! In this area, like any other, you will see that some people will respond much better to one approach than another and I would encourage anyone who regularly gets herpes outbreaks to be very open minded about trying different approaches to see what works best for them.

If you take a try and see approach, then it is highly likely that you will find at least one thing that will help to heal the lesions a great deal faster.


Most people who suffer from recurrent herpes infections these days will have tried acyclovir in one of its commercial preparations, e.g. Zovirax. For what it is worth, I do not personally see issues of toxicity or dependency with this drug however it can be observed that, whilst some people clearly find it helps, others report that they do not see it making any significant difference despite repeated attempts. In any case, it is good to know that there are other valid options

St John's Wort

The herb St John’s wort has a great deal to offer against the herpes virus both internally and externally, If you can contact a herbalist or a reputable supplier of herbal medicines, then there is a good chance you will be able to obtain St John's as an infused oil, it should be a rich ruby red colour if it is of good quality. Many have found this to be excellent at reducing the pain and inflammation of a herpes or shingles attack if regularly rubbed into the affected area.

Essential Oils

Ohers have found that the essential oils of, especially Lavender, but also Geranium and Eucalyptus, to relieve the nerve and tissue pain that can come with herpes outbreaks.

Lavender is the one essential oil that may be safely applied directly and without dilution to any kind of lesion. Both Eucalyptus and Geranium oils need to be diluted to be used safely. Some people can use them more concentrated than this, but a safe level for anyone would be 5 drops of one or both oils per tsp of a carrier oil rubbed into the affected skin as often as required.

Lemon Balm

Very concentrated extracts (as high as 70:1) of Lemon balm have been proven to be effective at reducing the severity and increasing the speed of healing of a herpes outbreak. This kind of concentrate can be difficult to obtain and you cannot expect the same results from a much less potent extract, so you might need to do some checking for its availability wherever you are.

Melissa officinalis (Lemon balm)


Treating a current infection internally

St John's Wort

The internal use of this potent herb is helpful for treating a current infection and, even more importantly, helping to break the cycle of recurrent infections in the future.

St John's is like all herbal medicines in that its effectiveness is entirely dependent on it being of excellent quality and being taken in the right dose. How you might best use this key ally against Herpes is written up in more detail in the article on St John's here

Echinacea & Astragalus root

Two other great immune tonics that will help to treat a current infection as well as prevent further ones are Echinacea root, more info here, and Astragalus, more here. Very high doses of these herbs can be safely used over a short period to rapidly activate an enhanced immune response to speed the resolution of a herpes infection.

Echinacea angustifolia


Immune system health

The healthier a person’s immune system is the less likely they will get a recurrence of herpes or shingles and the faster they will recover if they do. If you are getting recurrent herpes infections then you must accept that your immune health is not optimal. You should use immune tonic herbs, such as those mentioned above, but further to that, to get a lasting transformation of immune health you may have to deal with whatever is causing it to be low in the first place and the main culprits here are undiagnosed food allergies, poor diet, and stress.

Food Allergy/Intolerance

Only some people who suffer from herpes infections will have an immune system that is being bought low by food allergies or intolerances but it must be considered as a strong possibility if there is any earlier history of eczema or asthma.

Also note that if you frequently suffer from a bloated, uncomfortable belly or have a lot of allergic 'shiners', i.e. dark rings under your eyes, that you should also consider food allergies or intolerances as being a possible issue because they are much more common than people realise and can be a key reason why people can keep falling prey to herpes outbreaks even when they may be otherwise looking after themselves well.

Food allergy and intolerance is an important subject that needs a careful approach. If you need to explore this area further then start here

Healthy Diet & Immunity

For many people, there is an abundantly clear correlation between how healthy their diet is and how balanced and healthy their immune systems are. A good diet matters for everyone, the older you get the more it matters.

There is a lot of conflicting and even crazy advice out on diet but there is also some practical and dependable knowledge about nutrition that will not change with the next fad or fashion. If you would score yourself less than 7 out of 10 for the health of your diet then you need to put some energy into this vital subject, the key points to know are written up here


Stress & Immunity

There can be no shadow of a doubt that excess stress and tension can impact adversely on the immune system and many people who suffer from recurrent herpes infections say that their problems are caused by stress or at least made worse by it.

Stress is such a big subject in itself that people can very quickly feel overwhelmed with how much advice and options they are presented to deal with it. If you feel that stress is the biggest issue that you need to really deal with in terms of your own herpes outbreaks then try to identify which of the following areas is the one that you most relate to and then focus your attention accordingly.


If you aren't sleeping well then you must put this at the top of your priorities and you may be assured that there are simple and effective herbal medicines and other strategies to help - more here


If you know you have excess anxiety and that it is affecting your health adversely, then you must know that this is an area in which a certain approach work has been seen to work without fail, time and again. It's not easy, it's not overnight and it requires commitment, but it always works. For more info, read here


Just as with anxiety, a certain approach to depression, when taken consistently and patiently, always bears excellent results in the long run, more here


General Immunity

If none of the above; food allergies, poor diet, or excess stress, feel like they are key issues for you then you simply may need to get further support from Nature to build a level of immune health that stops the herpes from ever getting the upper hand again!

Some of the key herbs to make this happen have already been mentioned, but there are further steps that can help, written up in more detail here

Red & White Blood cells


Constitutional Health Note

Finally, you might benefit from learning about your constitution to know what kind of foods, herbs, exercises etc. will work especially well for your health in general.

There is a brief introduction to the subject here and a more detailed section on working out which constitution you are here

Please understand that I cannot personally advise you without seeing you in my clinic.
This living 'book' is my labour of love so, wherever you are, I wish you peace & good health!



© 2011 R.J.Whelan Ltd