Herpes and the Immune System
No matter what treatment approach you take, your immune system will be one of the most important weapons that you can work with to combat and control herpes simplex symptoms.
Your body’s natural immune system is responsible for keeping you healthy and fighting off invading pathogens, including Herpes Simplex Virus 1 and 2.
Herpes is caused by a virus so you cannot actually cure or remove it, BUT don’t let this thought dishearten you. There is currently no cure for any virus at this point in time, yet your immune system has the potential to completely suppress the symptoms. This applies to all viral conditions including chickenpox (a herpes related condition), measles, mumps, the common flu and any other virus you can think of.
How to improve your immune system against the herpes and cold sore virus:
- Freshly made fruit and/or vegetable juices are a great source for antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, free-radical scavengers and other “good stuff” essential for your body to maintain a strong immune system against viruses
- Boost your immunity against the herpes virus with herbs that enhance “immune cell activity”. Look for a herbal combination that boosts your immune system AS WELL AS targets the herpes virus
- Moderate exercise, preferably at least 4 times per week, can help strengthen your immune system. Blood flow to vital organs, good circulation and mental wellness can improve your immune response. 20 – 30 minutes of brisk walking five days per week is an ideal training program for maintaining a healthy immune system – News Article on Exercise and the Immune System
- The air you breathe can affect your immunity. Polluted environments are toxic to your system and can affect your health. Try to avoid habituating or working in polluted areas. If you cannot avoid pollutants, try supplementing your diet with antioxidants, such as fresh fruit and vegetables that are vibrant in color, or an antioxidant formula that contains selenium. Avoid exercising near traffic where you are likely to inhale large amounts of carbon-dioxide and other carcinogens.
- Maintain a nutritious diet high in antioxidants, essential nutrients and micro nutrients. An antioxidant supplement may help if dietary needs are not met
- Try to avoid or reduce stress in your life. Substitute caffeine rich drinks with water and herbal teas and supplement your diet with B group vitamins, ginseng and vitamin c to benefit your body in times of stress. Added magnesium can assist in muscle relaxation.
What can your immune system does to help you?
Your immune system is your body’s evolved weapon for defending itself against micro-pathogens, such as the Herpes virus. Your immune system may not be able to completely eliminate herpes but it is your body’s first line of defense to:
- Heal and manage symptoms
- Suppress the virus
- Control recurrences
If a person experiences very mild outbreaks (or no outbreaks at all) it can be contributed to their immune system and its ability to deal with the virus. This can be influenced by many things, including what strand of the herpes virus was contracted, the location of the infection, genetics, lifestyle, diet and mental attitude.
Why does the immune system have a connection with Herpes?
Your body’s ability to get on top of the herpes virus and control recurrences is directly related to the state of your immune system. Without a strong immune system the body can become overwhelmed by the herpes virus, sometimes allowing severe and persistent outbreaks to surface.
Your immune system is the very reason why many symptoms (such as fever, headaches and flu-like illness) are usually only experienced during the “primary” outbreak or first exposure to the virus.
During a first episode, the immune system develops antibodies and other weapons against the virus. During a recurrence, then, this “immune memory” can help to fight off infection more quickly. As a result, as time goes on there are usually fewer sores, they heal faster, and the outbreak is less painful. Some people never experience another recurrence.
Many people do not experience a recurrence until months and sometimes even years after their first primary outbreak. When the recurrence does happen it is often related to a time when the immune system is weakened or under pressure, such as from an illness, vaccination, change in medication, stressful event or period, poor diet or lifestyle, fatigue, surgery, etc.
With a strong immune system, you can expect to have greater control over the herpes virus and any symptoms that go with it. This can mean fewer sores, longer spaces in between each episode and less severe symptoms when they happen.
3 Steps to help your Immune System Be in Control of Herpes
1. Eat a healthy, balanced diet for a strong immune system
Eating a balanced diet that contains a large amount of raw, fresh fruit and vegetables and a minimum amount of processed and refined foods (such as refined sugars, white flour and white bread, deep fried and junk foods) can be a positive start to giving your body what it needs to function best. Broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts and cauliflower have beneficial properties that are particularly good for warding of herpes breakouts.
With herpes, it can also be helpful to reduce foods high in the amino acid Arginine and increase foods that are high in the amino acid Lysine. Lysine restricts the viruses’ “food” (arginine) which helps your body control the virus.
Just remember, it is not all about balancing your amino acids. The most important thing is to eat a nutritious diet that supports your individual body and its needs.
2. Reduce the things that you know are not helping
For some people, factors such as alcohol, stress or a lack of sleep can bring on a breakout. If you have noticed that certain situations tend to aggravate the HSV for you try to counteract them with an approach that will reduce the impact they might have on your body.
For example, if you are going to drink alcohol have a nutritious meal beforehand, get adequate rest and drink lots of water. If you are letting stress consume you, breathe deeply, meditate (clear your mind) and consider taking panax ginseng and a b group vitamin supplement. If you can’t avoid the trigger have “moderation” in mind.
Good rest, exercise and avoiding toxins such as alcohol and cigarettes will be beneficial in strengthening the immune system and therefore can help to prevent a relapse of symptoms.
3. Take an immune strengthening formula that contains actives that are both ‘antiviral’ and ‘immune enhancing’.
Andrographis, Echinacea and Olive Leaf are herbs which can assist your body in producing high levels of white blood cells essential to the body’s immune system, including natural killer cells, T-helper cells and macrophages. These cells circulate throughout the body, policing against and scavenging for pathogens and foreign invaders, such as the herpes virus.