Botanical Treatment Protocol for Recurrent Herpes Simplex Virus

Combine the following botanical therapies both for internal and topical treatment, as appropriate for specific patients’ needs.

This symbol *** in front of internal protocol in the following indicates that the formula is not considered safe for use during pregnancy. Special pregnancy protocols are noted as such. Topical protocol can be used freely during pregnancy, although thuja should be omitted even for topical use in pregnancy.

*** Immune Supporting / Antiviral Tincture

For patients prone to regular recurrent outbreaks give the following formula as a prophylactic agent to boost the immune system and for its antiviral effects, for use daily. For patients with only periodic and predictable outbreaks, such as during periods of stress such as after the holidays or during exams or deadlines, give the following formula for 6 weeks prior to the time of anticipated stress and continue for 2 weeks after the stressful event or period. For women susceptible to herpes outbreaks at the time of menstruation, give daily until recurrent outbreaks become infrequent, and then take two to three times weekly.

Ashwagandha(Withania somnifera)20 mL
St. John’s wort(Hypericum perforatum)20 mL
Licorice(Glycyrrhiza glabra)15 mL
Lemon balm(Melissa officinalis)15 mL
Echinacea(Echinacea spp.)15 mL
Andrographis(Andrographis paniculata)15 mL

Total: 100 mL

Dose: 5 mL twice daily

*** Herbal Infusion or Tincture (Alternative to Immune Supporting / Antiviral Tincture)

Adapted from Amanda McQuade Crawford, Herbal Remedies for Women

Dried Herbs Tincture

St. John’s wort(Hypericum perforatum)3 parts30 mL
Calendula(Calendula officinalis)2 parts15 mL
Damiana(Turnera diffusa)1 part10 mL
Echinacea(Echinacea spp.)2 parts15 mL
Wild indigo root(Baptisia tinctoria)¼ part10 mL
Eleuthero(Eleutherococcus senticosus)¼ part10 mL
Pulsatilla(Anemone pulsatilla)¼ part10 mL

Total: 100 mL

To prepare infusion: Steep 28 g (1 oz) / 1 L of boiling water for 20 minutes. Strain.

Dose: Infusion: 1 teacup three times daily

Tincture: 5 mL three times daily Take 5 days weekly for 1 to 3 months to reduce frequency and severity of outbreaks. For both of the preceding formulas, if menstrual hormone irregularity triggers or exacerbates herpes outbreaks, give 5 mL of Vitex tincture daily, preferably in the morning, for 3 to 6 months.

Antiviral Formula for Use during Pregnancy

Most of the antiviral herbs discussed in this post have not been proven safe for use during pregnancy. However suppression of herpes simplex virus outbreaks is particularly important during pregnancy owing to the potential consequences to the fetus of being exposure to lesions during vaginal delivery, and risks to the mother of a cesarean delivery as the alternative. It has been the experience of many midwives who, using a combination protocol of a simple internal antiviral formula, topical applications, and dietary and lifestyle modifications (e.g., stress reduction), can reduce the frequency of outbreaks during pregnancy and prevent the need for cesarean section. The following protocol is reliable and the herbs not contraindicated during pregnancy. The case history at the end of this post illustrates the successful treatment of herpes simplex virus-2 during pregnancy. Prepare the following herbs as an infusion:

Echinacea root(Echinacea angustifolia or purpurea)6 parts
Lemon balm(Melissa officinalis)4 parts

Steep 28 g (1 oz) / L of boiling water for 1 hour. Strain and drink two cups daily during the first trimester; increase to four cups daily during the third trimester. Use other formulas in this post, both internally (i.e., nervine formula) and topically, along with the dietary considerations.

Nervine Formula

For patients with stress-induced herpes simplex virus outbreaks also give the following formula either daily on an ongoing basis, or for several weeks prior to and during times of anticipated stress.

Milky oats(Avena sativa)30 mL
Passion flower(Passiflora incarnata)30 mL
Blue vervain(Verbena officinalis)20 mL
Lavender(Lavandula officinalis)20 mL

Total: 100 mL

Dose: 3 to 5 mL two to three times daily, based on severity of stress.

Topical Treatment

Herbs from the following topical formulae can be combined or treatments can be alternated for various effects, for example, using tincture to heal lesions twice daily alternated with topical application of herbs to dry lesions.

Botanical Treatment Protocol for Recurrent Herpes Simplex Virus — cont’d

For painful lesions:

Mix the following combination in a 1 oz. amber or cobalt glass bottle. Shake hard before each use to mix the tinctures and oil. Apply using a cotton swab, 2 to 4 times daily:

Kava kava tincture10 mL
Licorice tincture10 mL
Peppermint or geranium oil20 drops

To speed healing and as a topical antiviral: Mix a combination of equal parts of the following tinctures in a 1 -oz amber or cobalt glass bottle. Apply using a cotton swab, two to four times daily:

St. John’s wort(Hypericum perforatum)
Thuja (***)(Thuja occidentalis)
Lemon balm(Melissa officinalis)
Calendula(Calendula officinalis)

Alternatively use lemon balm or St. John’s wort ointments, available over the counter in shops that retail herbal products, or simply use witch hazel extract available at regular pharmacies.

Omit thuja during pregnancy. Replace with licorice or lavender tincture. For weeping lesions:

Option 1: Mix equal parts of powders of myrrh and goldenseal and apply several times daily by packing the powder onto weeping ulcers. Note that goldenseal powder may well stain clothing so caution should be taken to avoid contact with garments, for example by using a panty liner in the underwear.

Option 2: Apply witch hazel extract onto weeping ulcers using a cotton swab, repeating two to four times daily.

To heal tissue once sores have begun to crust over:

Use a vulnerary containing comfrey, lemon balm extract, calendula, and an essential oil such as geranium or peppermint salve to quickly heal tissue.

Also see Nutritional Considerations for a high-lysine, low-arginine diet, and avoid outbreak triggers.