Ok. So you've tried the antivirals to control your herpes and are looking for something else. Or, you want a natural approach to managing your symptoms.
I get asked this all the time.
It's SUCH a difficult question to answer. While I love the idea of an over the counter vitamin or supplement that can improve a person's symptoms or reduce their risk of disease, its difficult as a scientist to find any clear evidence of true benefit for most.
However, I do recommend some supplements to certain patients - glucosamine for people with osteoarthritis, for example.
Here's my take on a few supplements that may be of some benefit to people with herpes.
Lysine has been used to help treat or prevent both oral and genital herpes lesions. There is evidence that lysine, taken as a supplement or by increasing lysine in your diet (from fish, chicken or eggs) may speed recovery of the ulcers and may reduce recurrence rates. However, this evidence is far from conclusive. More importantly, lysine may increase cholesterol levels, so it's not for everyone.
Propolis is a substance derived from trees. It is loaded with flavonoids - antioxidants that boost the functioning of the immune system and help fight infection. A small study shows that when compared to acyclovir ointment, an ointment made from propolis healed herpes lesions faster.
Zinc in ointment form shows promise in relieving symptoms and preventing recurrence of Oral herpes.
Aloe vera when applied to genital herpes lesions shows promise in improving the symptoms from the lesions.
Siberian Ginseng has been shown in one small study to reduce the frequency, severity and duration of herpes outbreaks. This finding has not been replicated and it should be avoided in women who are pregnant or breastfeeding or if you have hypertension or sleep apnea.
Acupuncture, the ancient Chinese practice, may also help reduce the duration of a herpes outbreak. This has been found in case reports only and has yet to be replicated in a clinical trial.
Massage can help alleviate chronic stress; therefore, in theory, receiving massage on a regular basis may help avoid recurrent outbreaks.
It is important to know that many supplements have side effects and may interact with other medications that you are taking. Therefore, you should tell your doctor about any supplements you are taking.