Herpes family viruses

Herpes family viruses are the leading cause of viral diseases in humans. There are at least 25 identified viruses in the family of Herpesviridae. They are very contagious and once infected remain in the human host for life. After infection, it retreats along nerve fibres to nerve cells near the brain or spinal cord, where it remains dormant. When the host is ultimately in a remarkable health, these viruses remain dormant after the initial infection and rarely are a cause for a concern. It is thought that the viruses are mostly lay dormant in the spinal ganglia.

The most common herpes viruses that infect a human divided into three subfamilies. Each herpes virus type is associated with specific symptoms during an acute infection.

  • 1) Alphaherpesvirinae family
    • Herpes simplex 1 (HSV1) – associated with cold sores, gladiatorum, encephalitis and keratitis [srs]
    • Herpes simplex 2 (HSV2) – associated with genital lesions, meningitis and whitlow [srs]
    • Varicella Zoster virus (VSV) – associated with chicken pox and shingles and often postherpetic neuralgia on reactivation [srs]
  • 2) Gammaherpesvirinae family
    • Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) – associated with mononucleosis (sore throat, swollen lymph nodes, fatigue, malaise), Burkitt’s lymphoma, Nasopharyngeal cancer, Oral hairy leukoplakia [srs]
    • Human herpes virus 8 (HHV-8)associated with kaposi’s sarcoma herpes virus (KSHV) [srs]
  • 3) Betaherpesvirinae family
    • Cytomegalovirus (CMV) – initially infects upper respiratory tract and is associated with liver and spleen disease, pneumonia, brain inflammation, visual impairments and glandular fever in adults. Also implicated in meniere’s disease [srs]
    • Herpes lymphotropic virus (HHV-6) – associated with roseola infantum rash (Exanthema subitum), inflammation of eardrum (tympanic membrane) [srs] and most recently with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)
    • Human herpes virus 7 (HHV7) – associated with acute febrile respiratory disease, rash, vomiting, diarrhea, low lymphocyte counts, febrile seizures [srs]
Herpes latency is a burden on the body Each virus presents with mostly specific symptoms during an acute or a reactivation stage. During so called latency period (dormant state) these viruses are commonly thought to be asymptomatic. However, it does not appear to be the case. An example would be several autoimmune conditions that positively respond to antiviral treatments, yet their cause often remains unidentified.

The common symptoms of chronic viral re-activation often remains undiagnosed and may include the following

  • Anxiety, hand tremors
  • Excessive thirst
  • Lethargy, fatigue, chills
  • Recurring low grade fevers
  • Joint and muscle aches
  • Headaches
  • Cognitive difficulties
  • Night sweats and restless sleep
  • Digestive system issues
  • Dysautonomia
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Hormonal imbalances and associated weight gain
  • Appetite loss or inability to gain weight
  • Neurological and psychological conditions
  • Implications in CFS, FMS, MSC, arthritis, skin, eyes and ear diseases
Helping the body to suppress the latent viral activity can be the key to a wellness. Since majority of population is infected with one or more herpes viruses and sensitivity and general health of each individual varies, the symptoms will vary. However, if no definite cause of the symptoms is established, it may be worth looking into some elements of enhancing general health via the viral growth control.


If you have an acute viral infection, consult with your health practitioner first. This section provides some natural ways that can help to lower chronically elevated viral activity via supplements and diet.

Since herpes virus family belongs to envelope type of viruses that fuse with a host cell, their membranes may look like a body’s own cell, preventing successful immune system response. This in turn allows the pathogens to sustain higher pviral loads in serum. The enveloped viruses are fragile and are highly susceptible to their hosting environment. Viruses are deactivated by damaging factors to a viral envelope, such as heat, cold and pH, chlorine, hydrogen peroxide and lipid solvents

Factors that can promote virus reactivation

  • Iron deficiency, which must be confirmed with serum transferrin and transferrin saturation.
  • Imbalance of lysine and arginine amino acids
  • Excessive nerve activity stimulation that promotes a moderate nerve’s ganglia activation by factors such as rapid change of temperatures (exposure to cold or heat) and physical trauma such as friction and heat build up.
  • Increase of intracellular calcium levels (hypercalcemia)[srs1] [srs2]
    • Increase of dietary potassium can trigger an increase of intracellular calcium to mediate effect of potassium, therefore some foods that are rich in potassium may trigger reactivation.
    • Increase of dietary sodium promotes calcium metabolism and cellular release of calcium
    • Sun exposure or vitamin D supplementation raises intracellular calcium
  • Progesterone dominance [srs]
  • Coinfection with a CMV (cytomegalovirus) [srs1] [srs2]
  • Menstruation (changes estrogen and progesterone ratio)
  • Sexual activity
  • Systemic toxicity
  • Chronic inflammation
  • Overmethylation
  • An underactive thyroid
  • A transient illness that causes a systemic distress such as a flu, gastrointestinal poisoning, physical injury or exertion
  • Poor diet
  • Nutritional imbalances and deficiencies of minerals, vitamins and amino acids
  • Exposure to sun can trigger virus reactivation via
    • Suppressing the immune system response by rapid vitamin D increase
    • Increasing of intracellular calcium via vitamin D activity
    • Raising the body temperature to a transient temperature of 46 °C that is optimal for a virus replication

Supplements and foods that may trigger the viral reactivation

  • Vitamin D (calcitriol) – is a steroid hormone that attenuates the immune response. If you are low on this vitamin and supplementation is warranted, decrease the dose to as low as 400UI per day to avoid transitional increases in intracellular calcium. Foods that contain vitamin D such as egg yolks, tuna, mackerel and salmon.
  • Potassium for the same reason as vitamin D plus potassium antagonizes magnesium
  • L-Taurine and Turmeric down-regulate immunity and impair T-lymphocytes expression.
  • Anti-inflammatory herbs (e.g., turmeric, rosemary, sage)  that contain Carnosic Acid which significantly inhibits T-lymphocyte activity
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs (e.g., aspirin, naproxen sodium)  that lower autoimmune response
  • Internal use of fish oil, avocado oil and cod liver oil
  • Capsaicin induces latent herpes virus reactivation [srs]
  • Proteolytic enzymes such as bromelain, trypsin, chymotrypsin, and papain
  • Alpha hydroxy acids (a group of organic carboxylic compounds)
    • Citric acid (e.g. Citrus fruits) #1
    • Malic acid (e.g. Apples) #2
    • Tartaric acid (e.g. Grape wine) #3
    • Lactic acid (e.g. Sour milk) #4
    • Glycolic acid (e.g. Sugar cane) #5
  • Supplements that contain citric acid, such magnesium citrate, potassium citrate, strontium citrate and sublingual tablets that contain citric acid.
  • Supplements are an extract from soy.
  • Sea salt / sodium rich diet increases calcium metabolism and release by cells allowing the virus to enter the cells
  • High ratio of arginine to lysine from foods such as grapeseed or blueberry extracts
  • Raw foods. Well cooked vegetables are a better alternative to prevent a viral reactivation.
  • Herbal teas and coffee
  • Citric acid containing foods such as soft drinks, citrus fruits such as lemons and oranges, other moderately citric acid rich foods such as tomatoes, artichokes, lettuce and some peppers, sweet & sour sauce, Thai dishes and hummus, vinegar containing salad dressings all utilize citric acid.
  • Seafood
  • Cooking oils, such as those made from nuts, soy and olives
  • Gluten triggers a greater exposure of the immune cells to the herpes viruses. Wheat flour is a major trigger.
  • Soy
  • Beta carotene supplements and beta carotene rich foods such as carrots, sweet potatoes, kale, turnip greens, mustard greens, spinach, butternut squash, lettuce, collards, dandelion greens, pumpkin, beet greens, apricots, mangos, papayas, lamb’s quarters, young onions greens, winter squash, red peppers, chives, broccoli, vegetable juice, Raab/Rapini, laver seaweed
  • Artificial sweeteners (aspartame is the most provocative agent)
  • Sugar, especially as high fructose corn syrup

An effective treatment to control viral activity should be comprised of three factors

  1. Lifestyle modification to reduce the amount of stress on the body and improve the immune function. Viral reactivation can be triggered by increase of cortisol (stress hormone) that attenuates the immune system and sunlight exposure that dramatically increases levels of vitamin D. Consider other lifestyle balance factors that improve overall health.
  2. Dietary supplements that include immunomodulating and antiviral supplements
  3. Nutritional modification to consume foods that metabolically inhibit viral replication
Lifestyle modification concludes behavioral modifications, sleep management and other factors that help to free the resources for the immune function.

Nutrition is the foundation for health. The herpes family viruses requires a dietary adjustment that correlates with two amino acids – Lysine and Arginine. The total amount of lysine in foods should always exceed the total amount of arginine by one third to inhibit viral replication.

Note on lysine supplements. It is worth mentioning that it is not always the proportional amount of lysine and arginine consumed that matters, but the total bio-potency of consumed foods. For example using concentrated blueberry extract that equals 36 grams of fresh blueberry will be significantly more potent than the actual 36 grams of blueberry. Therefore you have to be careful consuming dietary supplements such as grapeseed or blueberry extracts as they can outweigh the potency of lysine foods you consume.

Viral control

Chronic viral activity can be managed long term by managing hypercalcemia and any combination of two supplements such as olive leaf extract, garlic extract, grapefruit seed extract and oregano oil alone. Vitamins C and E, Zinc and mineral drops can be supplemented as an addition.

Acute viral activity can be suppressed with combination of 2 to 4 of supplements listed below for the period of 1-2 weeks. Vitamins C and E, zinc and mineral drops can be taken as an addition.

Antiviral physiological factors

  • Raising body temperature (hyperthermia) inactivates the viruses
    Have you noticed you get more outbreaks during the cold seasons? Part of that is due to the lower body temperatures during the cold seasons. Less sweating during the day = more aggressive viral replication. You can counteract the cold season flareups with the following

    • Saunas, steamy showers (10-20) minutes a day
    • Cardio exercise with warm clothing on to the point of breaking the sweat, and then doing some other type of exercises to gradually cool off within 20-30 minutes. Rapid cool off is undesirable.
    • Drinking hot liquids, including soups in a hot room
    • Vitamin B3 occasionally before exercise to produce niacin flush (100-200mg) will help to raise body temperature and reduce the methylation if you are overmethylated. This in turn will reduce anxiety and produce a better sleep, helping you to recover from stress.

Antiviral supplements

  • Iron Bisglycinate (non-constipating) should be supplemented with RDA of vitamin C, B12 and Folate for proper absorption.
  • Magnesium balances the calcium as implicated in hypercalcemia. Magnesium antagonizes translocation of calcium across the cell membranes, decreasing uptake and release of calcium. Avoid magnesium citrate as citric acid triggers viral replication.
    Usage: up to 800mg in divided doses daily between the meals
  • Bromelain  and Papain (Proteolytic enzymes) – enzymes with sulfur that help to digest protein and reduce, inflammation and viral loads of certain viruses, including herpes family. Proteolytic enzymes, particularly Bromelain, breakdown the exterior coating of a virus rendering the virus permanently inert
    Usage: Up to 750mg a day in divided doses between meals for therapeutic function. Use short term 1-3 weeks only due to side effects. May cause nausea, increased menstrual bleeding, diarrhea.
  • Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) – interferes with virus’ ability to invade the cells. Also can act as a sleep aid.
    Usage: Up to 500mg 3x a day. Topically, Lemon Balm Salve can be used to prevent outbreaks or speed up the skin healing.
  • Saint John’s Wort (SJW)compounds a calming and an antiviral properties similar to Lemon Balm.
    700-1000mg in divided doses. Liquid form is more effective.
  • Olive leaf extract (standardized oleuropein) – drastically reduces viral interactivity and replication
    Usage: Up to 500mg a day in divided doses between meals
  • Grapefruit seed extract – broad spectrum bactericide, fungicide, antiviral, and antiparasitic compound. Upon ingestion provides biochemically converted quaternary ammonium compounds which exhibit wide spectrum activity against bacteria and viruses.
    Usage: Short term 1-2 weeks, up to 500mg in divided doses daily
  • Grape seed extract (GSE) – has strong antiviral activity against herpes simplex type 1 virus [srs], polyomavirus [srs] and varicella-zoster virus [srs].
  • Lemon bioflavonoids with Hesperidin and Rutin. Should be taken with vitamin C to enhance effectiveness
    Usage: 500mg one to two times daily.
  • Garlic extract is a known antimicrobial agent that can help to keep the virus replication down
    1000mg daily
  • Oregano oil (Origanum vulgare) contains terpenes, phenols and esters compounds that are very potent inhibitors of herpes viruses replication cycle
    Usage: 200-400mg daily per tolerance. May produce significant side effects
  • Quercetin/Bromelain combo (flavonoid) inhibits replication of herpes, polio, EBV, potentially CMV and common cold viruses
    1-3 weeks term, 500mg up to 2 times a day with meals
  • Colloidal silver (mineral)used to treat viruses (shingles, HIV, pneumonia, herpes, warts), yeast, bacteria (tuberculosis, Lyme disease, pneumonia, scarlet fever, gonorrhea, syphilis, stomach ulcers); parasites (malaria, ringworm)
    Usage: Up to 10ppm per day for 2-5 days
  • Echinacea (purpurea) – traditional antiviral and antibacterial
    Usage: 800 mg daily. Contraindicated in autoimmune diseases
  • Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) – a very potent antioxidant that is depleted with age. ALA helps with post viral neurological pain by protecting and even healing nerves and neurons. It takes 3-6 weeks to notice in reduction of pain.
    Usage: 300 mg daily in divided doses.
  • Germanium Ge-132 (Bis betacarboxyethyl germanium sesquioxide) enriches levels of oxygen on cellular level and significantly boosts immunity inducing interferon production and restores the normal function of T-cells, B-lymphocytes, natural killer cell activity along with increasing the number of antibody forming cells.
    Usage: Organic form, 100mg, on empty stomach 1 to 2 times a day.
  • Additional nutritional supplementation
      • Vitamin C (buffered), 1000-5000mg daily (should be taken with lemon bioflavonoids)
      • Vitamin E (d-Alpha Tocopherol), 400UI daily
      • Vitamin B12 1000mcg daily
      • Magnesium 400-800 daily to reduce intracellular calcium
      • Zinc (chelated) 15mg daily
      • Mineral drops provide the nutrients required for energy production and therefore immune system health.
      • Lysine (amino acid) – decreases intracellular calcium. A dominance of lysine to arginine in the body keeps the viral replication under control.
        Usage: Up to 2000mg a day in divided doses. Taking more than 2000mg of Lysine supplement for more than 1 week is not suggested. Taking lysine can increase your risk of developing hypercalcemia and cause significant strain on kidney and pancreas functions. Therefore taking 1000-3000mg of Lysine daily as often suggested by various sources on Internet can lead to formation of kidney stones and significant kidney function damage. It is best to consume the lysine content from foods such as low fat yogurt.
  • Topical treatments for herpes simplex 1, 2 and Zoster (shingles)
    • Vinegar
    • Garlic oil, Tea Tree oil or Tincture of Golden Seal twice a day for up to 4 days, then 2 days break
    • Melissa (Lemon Balm) cream
    • Tea Tree and Lavender Oils can be rubbed at the base of spine sparingly to control the dormant virus load
    • Acyclovir cream or silica gel are both equally effective [srs].
  • Post herpetic neuralgia can be relived by adding a teaspoon of cayenne pepper to 8oz of warm water to drink throughout the day. This can also help to shorted the duration of the outbreak
  • Mainstream medicine
    • Acyclovir 800mg  times daily for 5-7 days. Proceed carefully as acyclovir can contribute to kidney damage.
    • H2 blockers have been found to reduce the viral loads, pain and symptoms of herpes zoster by blocking the H2-receptors of T-lymphocyte suppressor cells [srs]


  • Potassium rich foods should be consumed in moderation since potassium rich diet invokes displacement of intracellular calcium via reducing the magnesium, promoting viral replication. Some of the major viral replication triggers via this mechanism are potassium rich foods such as spinach, bananas and tomatoes.
  • Citric and malic acid rich foods
  • Lysine to arginine ratio in foods should be above 1 in cumulative ratio.
  • Carbonated, sugary beverages and soybeans contain enzymes that increase magnesium elimination from the body.
  • Caffeine is a diuretic and excretes magnesium from the body.