Some nutrients helpful for the management of herpes are…


Lysine is an essential amino acid that can only be obtained through your diet. According to clinical trials, Lysine can help to restrict the herpes virus from being active and replicating.[1][2]

Having sufficient amounts of Lysine in your diet, or taking it in a supplement form, could help to reduce herpes and cold sore outbreaks.[3]This is attributed to Lysine’s ability to help balance the body’s production of Arginine, an amino acid required by the herpes virus to become active and replicate.[4]

Why Lysine could be helpful for herpes:

  • Restricts the function of the herpes virus[1]
  • Improves the body’s ability to create antibodies
  • Improves healing of skin tissue, and is essential for wound healing and building collagen[5]
  • May help to significantly improve the healing time of an outbreak[3]
  • If taken regularly and in high enough doses, Lysine may help to prevent HSV recurrences[6]

Foods that contain high amounts of Lysine:

  • Most vegetables and fruit
  • Particularly beets, avocados, mangos, tomatoes, apples, apricots, pears, figs and papaya
  • Dairy products such as milk, yogurt and cheeses
  • Eggs
  • Brewer’s yeast
  • Chicken, Fish, Beef and Lamb
  • Sprouts

What does “free form” Lysine mean?

This word has nothing to do with the quality of the Lysine. In regards to Lysine, the term “free form'” means that it is a structurally unlinked, individual amino acid. This term has nothing to do with the source of the amino acid or whether it is synthetic or natural.

Many Lysine supplements are a synthetic version of the amino acid which have been artificially made in a laboratory. Synthetic supplements are generally cheaper to make and there is controversy about their efficacy compared to naturally occurring substances which the body is accustomed to processing.

Free form does not mean that it is a pure amino acid obtained from a real food source. To find out if a Lysine supplement is made using pure or artificial Lysine you will most likely need to contact the manufacturer.

You can read more about how Lysine works in the blog article Important Herpes Diet Questions and Answers.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C (also known as Ascorbic acid) is an essential water-soluble vitamin that is necessary for the production of collagen, for wound healing and to fight off infections. It is an antioxidant vitamin with immune boosting properties.

In particular, Vitamin C is beneficial for the healing of skin tissue and boosting immune resistance against infections, such as the cold sore and herpes virus. Vitamin C’s effectiveness may be enhanced when taken in combination with Bioflavonoids.[7]

Why Vitamin C could be helpful for herpes:

  • Low levels of Vitamin C have been linked to slow wound healing and vulnerability to infection[8]
  • Vitamin C works along with Lysine to close over and heal skin wounds[9]
  • It boosts immunity against herpes viral infections, making an outbreak less likely to happen altogether
  • If taken regularly, Vitamin C combined with Bioflavonoids may reduce the frequency of herpes outbreaks
  • Vitamin C with Bioflavonoids can help to heal outbreaks more quickly and may prevent scar tissue[10]

Foods that contain high amounts of Vitamin C:

  • Fresh fruits (especially citrus, such as oranges)
  • Leafy vegetables, such as lettuce, bok choy and spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Cauliflower
  • Bell peppers
  • Strawberries
  • Papaya (papaw)
  • Parsley


Bioflavonoids (also known as Vitamin P, and including Quercetin, Rutin and Hesperidin) are natural compounds which are responsible for the bright color pigments in many fruits and vegetables, particularly citrus.

Bioflavonoids are linked to a number of health benefits, including being a powerful antioxidant, helping to strengthen and maintain skin cells and improving the absorption of Vitamin C in the body. Bioflavonoids are essential for the absorption and metabolism of Vitamin C.

Clinical studies have demonstrated that Bioflavonoids combined with Vitamin C may help stop recurrent herpes blisters from forming. Best taken in the prodromal stage, Bioflavonoids may assist an outbreak to heal more quickly.[10]

Why Bioflavonoids could be helpful for herpes:

  • Improves the body’s absorption and utilization of Vitamin C, giving better results than Vitamin C alone[11]
  • The body needs high levels of Bioflavonoids to heal the skin quickly and resist infections
  • Bioflavonoids may inhibit the infectionousness and/or replication of both TNA and DNA viruses, such as Herpes[12]
  • They have both anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties
  • If taken along with Vitamin C, Bioflavonoids have been shown to help stop an outbreak developing altogether[10]

Foods that contain high amounts of Bioflavonoids:

  • Most citrus fruits, including oranges, grapefruits, lemons, limes, mandarins and others
  • Many bright colored fruits and vegetables, including cherries, cranberries, grapes, peppers, apricots and prunes
  • Leafy vegetables, such as lettuce and spinach
  • Black Tea (such as Earl Gray, etc)
  • Broccoli, brussel sprouts and eggplant (aubergine)
  • Wine, and juices made from most berries or grapes
  • Some varieties of Red clover
  • Rose hips

Zinc chelate

Zinc is an essential trace mineral that is important for the function of the immune system and for repairing and healing the skin. Clinical studies have found that people who have a low level of Zinc are often more susceptible to infections.[13]

This mineral assists all cells in the body, and aids in the dev elopement and repair of every tissue including the skin. Zinc plays a key role in activating and enhancing the immune system, and helps the body to fight off viral infections more effectively.[13][14]

A Zinc supplement that is chelated (known as Zinc amino acid chelate) is likely to be absorbed more efficiently by the body. Chelating is a special process that bonds the essential Zinc mineral to the amino acid glycine, making the mineral a more easily absorbed form for the body to process.

This is because all minerals need to be bonded with another compound in order to be digested and utilized by the body, and one of the most effect of these compounds is a fragment of a protein (an amino-acid). Chelated Zinc is therefore more easily accepted through the body than non-chelated Zinc.

Zinc applied externally onto a herpes affected area has also been shown to have beneficial results.

Why Zinc could be helpful for herpes:

  • Zinc is critical to the immune system, and therefore low levels could be linked to frequent and/or acute outbreaks
  • Assists in the healing of wounds and is vital for skin repair
  • May help to prevent skin damage, such as scarring or loss of pigment
  • Enhances and optimizes the body’s immune resistance against infection

Foods that contain high amounts of Zinc:

  • Seafood
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Most dairy products
  • Beans and lentils
  • Wholegrain cereals.
  • Legumes
  • Yeast products
Combined Lysine Formula
Try Combined Lysine Formula for an all-in-one supplement.

Other nutrients to research:


A protein found naturally in milk, as well as mucosal secretions such as saliva and tears. Lactoferrin is most high in colostrum, which is the breast milk produced towards the very end of pregnancy and is the first milk fed to a new born. Colostrum contains a vital spectrum of antibodies and immune resistance for the infant child which assists the development of the child’s immune system. According to one study, Lactoferrin effectively blocks entry of HSV into the host cell and may have immune stimulatory activity.[15]

B Group Vitamins

Stress on the mind and body can have a profound influence on herpes and cold sore outbreaks. So avoiding or reducing the cause of the stress can be helpful to prevent a recurrence. B vitamins can help counteract the effect of stress on the body, as well as help with sleep and positive thinking.

The Vitamin B group are essential to many functions of the body, and are easily depleted by alcohol, overindulgence and stress. Vitamin C, vitamin B6, vitamin B5, zinc and magnesium are highly sought after by the body during times of stress, so replacing these in the body may in turn help with herpes outbreaks (which tend to happen more frequently during times of stress on the body or immune system).

If taken in a supplement form, B vitamins should be taken together in a “complex” to prevent causing an imbalance because certain B vitamins are co-dependent on one another. The Vitamin B complex is comprised of the following:

  • B1 (thiamine)
  • B2 (riboflavin)
  • B3 (niacin)
  • B6 (pyridoxine)
  • B9 (folic acid)
  • B12 (cobalamin)

The B group of vitamins are also important for a healthy nervous system and for the body’s production of seratonin (the hormone released in our brain helping us to feel happy, relaxed and at ease). B vitamins could be helpful when a person is first diagnosed with herpes as they assist with sleeping, relaxing and calming the mind (particularly vitamins B6 and B3).


Monolaurin is a derivative of lauric acid, an unsaturated fatty acid which has been found to have antimicrobial and antiviral benefits. It is found naturally in breast milk and coconuts, and is attributed to protecting the immune system against infections. Monolaurin has been demonstrated to have impressive antiviral properties against herpes.[15]

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is an antioxidant vitamin that has many health benefits, including assisting the skin and the immune system. Many studies suggest that Vitamin E supplementation can be neuroprotective.[18]

This could make Vitamin E a beneficial supplement for the nerve pain that sometimes remains after Shingles (Herpes zoster), this is referred to as Post Herpetic Neuralgia.

Supplementing Vitamin E may also help to prevent Herpes Encephalitis, a very rare but serious brain condition.[19]

There are many, many documented cases of vitamin E assisting skin problems, including in the healing of wounds, lesions, ulcerations and scar tissue. Here is one example in relation to herpes, this is an excerpt taken from the “Complete Home Guide to All the Vitamins” by Ruth Adams:

In a fascinating letter to the editor of Archives of Dermatology, Volume 108, page 8555, 1973, two physicians report using vitamin E for patients suffering from neuralgia which afflicted them after a session of shingles (herpes). The doctors treated 13 patients with oral and topical vitamin E. That is, they gave them vitamin E by mouth and used the ointment on the affected skin. Eleven of these patients has suffered more than six months, 7 for more than one year, one for 13 years and one for 19 years.

These two last patients had almost complete relief from pain with the vitamin E treatment. Two were moderately improved and two were slightly improved. The doctors gave dosages of 400 to 1,600 units of vitamin E per day.

One of these patients had angina (the agonizing chest pain that affects heart patients). Taking 1,200 units of vitamin E daily she controlled the neuralgia. She also cured the leg cramps she had been suffering from and found that she no longer needed nitroglycerin, the drug she had been taking to control the angina.[20]


  • Griffith RS, Norins AL, Kagan C. “A multicentered study of lysine therapy in Herpes simplex infection.” Dermatologica (1978) 156:257–67.
  • Tankersley RW Jr. “Amino acid requirements of herpes simplex virus in human cells.” J Bacteriol (1964) 87:609–13.
  • Griffith RS, Walsh DE, Myrmel KH, et al. “Success of L-lysine therapy in frequently recurrent herpes simplex infection.” Dermatologica (1987) 175:183–90.
  • Flodin NW. “The metabolic roles, pharmacology, and toxicology of lysine.” J Am Coll Nutr (1997) 16:7–21 [review].
  • Balch, Phyllis, CNC, and James Balch, M.D. “Prescription For Nutritional Healing.” Avery Books, 2000.
  • Milman N, Scheibel J, Jessen O. “Lysine prophylaxis in recurrent herpes simplex labialis: a double blind, controlled crossover study.” Acta Derm Venereol (1980) 60:85–7.
  • Donovan, Patrick M., R.N. “Ascorbic Acid, Quercetin, Bromelain and Proteolytic Enzymes: A Naturopathic
    Approach to Inflammation.” Townsend Letter for Doctors, September 1984.
  • Lanman, T.H., Ingalls, T.H. “Vitamin C deficiency and wound healing: an experimental and clinical study.” Annals of Surgery (1937) 105(4): 616-625.
  • Berg, R.A., Steinmann, B., et al. “Ascorbate deficiency results in decreased collagen production: under-hydroxylation of proline leads to increased intracellular degradation.” Arch Biochem Biophys (1983) 226(2): 681-686.
  • Terezhalmy, G., Bottomley, W., Pelleu, G. “The use of water-soluble bioflavonoid-ascorbic acid complex in the treatment of recurrent herpes labialis.” 1978 Jan;45(1):56-62
  • Murray, F. “Bioflavonoids add punch to the power of vitamin C” Better Nutrition 1989-90 Sep 1989
  • Kaul, T.N., et al. “Antiviral Effect of Flavonoids on Human Viruses.” Journal of Medical Virology Vol. (1985) 17; p. 71-79.
  • Shankar, A.H. & Prasad, A.S. “Zinc and immune function: the biological basis of altered resistance to infection.” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 1998; volume 68: pages 447S-463S.
  • Baum MK, Shor-Posner G, Campa A. “Zinc status in human immunodeficiency virus infection” J Nutr. 2000;130(5S Suppl):1421S-1423S.
  • Wabba, A. “Topical application of zinc solutions: a new treatment for herpes simplex infections of the skin.” Acta Derm Venereol 1980;60:175.
  • Jenssen, H. “Anti herpes simplex virus activity of lactoferrin/lactoferricin — an example of antiviral activity of antimicrobial protein/peptide.” Cell Mol Life Sci. 2005 Dec;62(24):3002-13.
  • Hierholzer, JC and Kabara, JJ. “In vitro effects of Monolaurin compounds on enveloped RNA and DNA viruses.” J. Food Safety 1982; 4:1.
  • Pace, A., Savarese, A., et al. “Neuroprotective effect of vitamin E supplementation in patients treated with cisplatin chemotherapy.” J Clin Oncol. 2003 Mar 1;21(5):927-31.
  • Sheridan, PA., Beck, MA.”The immune response to herpes simplex virus encephalitis in mice is modulated by dietary vitamin E.” J Nutr. 2008 Jan;138(1):130-7
  • Adams, R, ” Complete Home Guide to All the Vitamins” Larchmont Books (1979)

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