Genital herpes can cause physical symptoms as well as psychological stress. It is a sexually transmitted disease and is not currently curable. Transmitted through skin contact, it is associated with blisters that are filled with clear fluid. After a few days the blisters open up to leave red sores, which can sting and burn. Though a physician can give you a prescription for an antiviral medication to subdue the symptoms, you can also try natural remedies on their own or in conjunction with the medications. The goal is to lessen the pain and the duration of the outbreak.
Some home remedies amount to common-sense wound care and healthy living. Others involve supplements and herbs that do not have mainstream scientific backing for use against genital herpes. That means it’s hard to be sure whether they’re safe and effective for this use. If you have any doubts, it’s best to ask your primary-care physician. Be sure to mention any medications you’re taking–whether prescription, over-the-counter or herbal–because of the possibility of dangerous drug interactions.
In herbal and holistic medicine circles, lemon balm is believed to have wound-healing, antiviral and antibacterial properties. For genital herpes, it is applied topically and can reduce swelling and redness, though is not so effective at reducing pain or scabbing. Taken in oral supplement form, lemon balm may also decrease anxiety and help you get to sleep. Both effects are beneficial to the immune system, which needs to be in tip-top shape to keep the herpes virus at bay.
St. John’s Wort
St. John’s Wort is an herb that contains compounds–notably dianthrone and flavonoids–believed to fight depression. But besides that popular use, St. John’s Wort also has antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties. You can buy it in a variety of forms, including as a salve, an oil, a dried herb and a tea. For helping herpes sores to heal faster, you’ll want the salve version, available at health food stores. If herpes infection has you feeling low psychologically, you might want to try one of the orally ingested forms for its mood-enhancing, anti-depressive effects. oil, dried herb, tea and salve. About 3 g per day is usually right, unless the label says something otherwise.
Making sure herpes lesions are dry and clean will go a long way toward healing when you are having an outbreak. But what you really want is to avoid outbreaks altogether, or at least minimize their frequency. For that you need a strong immune system. Of course, a healthy diet and lots of exercise are important. But the one factor never to ignore is getting enough sleep. Genital herpes outbreaks very often occur when a person is run down, such as during finals week in college or while pulling all-nighters to finish a work project. To the extent possible, arrange your life so that you’re staying well-rested.