Therapeutics for Chicken Pox, Shingles, & Herpes

Chicken pox, shingles, and HSV 1 & 2 are three of the nine herpesviridae that infect humans. Because these viruses are somewhat similar, there are certain therapeutic protocols we can refer to for all three of them.

immune-systemFor all three viruses, it’s essential to support and boost the immune system. As soon as there has been exposure to the virus (if known) or as soon as symptoms start to appear, immune-system support is first item of business. During any illness, it’s best to avoid sugar, NSAIDs and aspirin, so as not to suppress the immune system.  In order to support the immune system, consider either increasing or starting the intake of supplements such as probiotics, vitamin D, vitamin C, and B vitamins.

One key supplement to start in the initial stage and throughout the virus’s active phase is lysine. Lysine is an amino acid that will help hinder viral replication, which will help to reduce the severity of the outbreak and help the blisters heal faster. Supplementing with lysine will be more effective if combined with vitamin c, zinc, and flavonoids.

Related to supplementing with lysine, it’s advised to avoid foods that are high in the amino acid arginine and low in lysine. Herpes viruses require arginine in order to replicate, so it’s important to keep arginine intake low during any kind of herpes outbreak. Lysine is beneficial because it hinders the activity of arginine, which is why supplementation is so effective.

The internal use of anti-viral herbs such as Melissa officinalis is also appropriate at this time, and the topical use of Melissa-infused oil and Melissa essential oil can be very effective in healing blisters. If there is itching associated with the blisters, a drop or two of peppermint or tea tree oil can bring relief. If there is pain, geranium essential oil can be effective.

Another thing to keep in mind for any condition with blisters or open skin is to keep the afflicted area clean in order to prevent infection. In addition to cleansing regularly with a gently, fragrance-free soap, one good strategy for preventing infection is to make a light infusion of antibacterial herbs and apply a few times a day with a fine-misting spray bottle. Be sure to let the area dry completely before applying any other kind of topical remedy.

Chicken Pox and Shingles 

chickenpox-varicellaHHV-3, or the varicella-zoster virus, causes both chicken pox and shingles. Chicken pox, aka varicella, is the highly-contagious, initial manifestation of the virus. Varicella has a period of activity which usually lasts about 7-14 days (longer for the immune-compromised). Initial symptoms can include a fever, headache, fatigue, and loss of appetite. A few days later, blisters appear. Once the blisters have formed a crust, varicella is no longer considered active.

Following this period, the virus remains dormant in the central nervous system, residing within the sensory ganglia. It has the potential to reactivate as herpes zoster, most commonly known as shingles. Reactivation usually occurs in the elderly and those with compromised immune systems.  Herpes zoster is contagious, but not as contagious as varicella. Herpes zoster cannot cause herpes zoster in another person, it can only cause varicella in someone who has not already had chicken pox.

Therapeutic Protocol for the Varicella-Zoster Virus

We can apply different therapeutic approaches to each phase of the varicella-zoster virus. As noted above, the first thing one to do is provide support for the immune system. As the virus continues to manifest, rest, hydration, and proper nourishment are critical. The appetite may be suppressed, so bone-broths are an excellent option for someone who doesn’t want to eat.

oatmeal-bathWhen blisters start to appear, the ailing person will likely want relief from the accompanying itching. As tradition goes, soothing oatmeal baths can be greatly satisfying. Following the bath, a poultice can be made from the oats and applied directly to the blisters.

Once the blisters have started to crust over, and the afflicted person is starting to feel better, immunomodulating herbs such as Astragalus are appropriate, as are continued rest, hydration, and nourishment.

If the virus does manifest later as herpes zoster, or shingles, blisters will appear.  To aid in the quicker healing of the blisters, topical lemon balm-infused oil is incredibly beneficial here as well. Again, the internal use of anti-viral herbs may be helpful.

In addition to addressing the blisters with a topical remedy to encourage healing, you will want to address the nerve pain and skin sensitivity that comes with them. While nerve pain can be difficult to alleviate, therapies such as warm baths and heat packs can be effective. For some people, a combination of a nervine-infused oil (such as St. John’s Wort) and geranium essential oil can bring relief from the pain. Internal analgesic and nervine herbs may also be helpful.

Herpes Simplex 1 & 2

HHV-1 and HHV-2, or herpes simplex 1 & 2, also reside in the central nervous system. The virus can exist in a dormant state in a person’s body indefinitely. For some, it lies dormant for several years before becoming active. It is common for those infected to never show any symptoms. For others, symptoms start to appear a few days after exposure. If the virus does become active, the initial outbreak is usually the most severe, with recurring outbreaks lessening in severity and frequency over time. Additionally, the initial outbreak often includes flu-like symptoms and nerve pain.

Contrary to popular belief, both HSV1 and HSV2 can be contracted orally, genitally, and in other locations such as the eyes. If open skin (a cut or abrasion) comes into contact with the virus, transmission may occur. Without a blood test, it is impossible to know which strain of the virus has been contracted.

Therapeutic Protocol for Herpes Simplex

For both of the herpes simplex viruses, the therapeutics are similar. The biggest difference in protocol is dependent upon the location of the outbreak. Again, immune support and keeping the affected area clean are key.

herbal-oilThe protocol for managing outbreaks is similar to those for chicken pox and shingles. The goal is to shorten the duration of the outbreak and heal blisters quickly. Topical application of lemon balm-infused oil works for external herpes blisters as well. To strengthen the anti-viral capacity of the oil, add a few drops of lemon balm essential oil to the infused oil before application. The internal use of anti-viral herbs is also appropriate during a herpes outbreak.

For oral outbreaks, mouth rinses may be effective for sores inside the mouth. For genital outbreaks, warm herbal baths can be soothing. Infusions or decoctions of anti-viral herbs like lemon balm and St. John’s Wort, and berberine-containing herbs (for antiseptic purposes) may be used in both the mouth rinse and bath. Epsom salts may also be included in the bath for added relief.

Similar to shingles, people may also experience herpetic nerve pain, as well as a tingling sensation, both during outbreaks and outside of them. The same therapeutics mentioned above for shingles may be applied for this pain as well.

When not experiencing outbreaks, preventing them becomes the therapeutic goal. Supplementing with lysine and the other earlier-mentioned vitamins on a daily basis can help prevent future outbreaks. Additionally, supplementing with reishi and cordyceps mushrooms on a daily basis may help prevent future outbreaks as well.

Effective Management of Human Herpes Viruses

The key to the management of chicken pox, shingles, and herpes simplex viruses comes down to combining an understanding of how the virus works with a collection of simple therapeutics.  It’s important to know that there is relief from these viruses.  Especially important for those living with HSV 1 & 2, is the knowledge that there are natural approaches that are effective in both dealing with outbreaks and preventing future ones.