Botanical Treatment Strategies for Herpes: Immunomodulation and Adaptogenic Support


Andrographis, an Asian herb used in the Ayurvedic medicine and traditional Chinese medicine, has been used traditionally as an anti-inflammatory, hepatoprotective, antiviral, antioxidant, and immune-enhancing herbal medicine. In vitro and in vivo studies demonstrate immune enhancing activity and immunomodulating effects including its ability to stimulate both antigen-specific and nonspecific immunity, reduce inflammation, relieve fever and sore throat, and reduce incidence of common cold and upper respiratory infection in children and adults. Andrographalide, a constituent of the herb, has demonstrated anticancer activity. One study demonstrated specific anti-herpes simplex virus activity using isolate diterpenes from the herb. Western herbal medicine uses this herb in combination with other immunomodulating herbs, and in multieffect comprehensive formulae for patients who experience recurrent herpes outbreaks and who also have a tendency toward frequent colds and infections generally, and who also may be run down and depleted. It is excellent combined with adaptogens for overall immune support.


Eleuthero is an important traditional medicine in China and Russia, used to stimulate the immune system, for prophylaxis of infectious diseases, and to enhance stamina and performance. It is mentioned repeatedly in the literature for its antiviral effects. An in vitro study by Glatthaar-Saalmuller et al. demonstrated specific activity against herpes simplex virus virus. Given the ability of this herb to support general immunity, it is recommended in the prevention of recurrent herpes outbreaks, particularly for patients exhibiting general susceptibility to infection, and when fatigue or stress precipitate episodes. It is regularly given in tincture or encapsulated forms, most often combined with other adaptogens, antivirals, and nervines. See Chapter 6 for a larger discussion in adaptogens and this herb.


Reishi is an important adaptogen and immunomodulating herb. It was previously discussed extensively for its specific activities against herpes simplex virus. The combination of immune supportive and anti-herpes simplex virus activity makes this herb especially important to consider for patients who have recurrent herpes infection in the context of overall susceptibility to infection, fatigue, and general depletion.