10 Things You Need to Know about Preventing Outbreaks Without Drugs
by Michele Picozzi
Whether or not you take drugs to suppress future outbreaks of HSV-1 (facial herpes) and HSV-2 (genital herpes), to get outbreaks under control a strong immune system is necessary. With some positive lifestyle and dietary changes and adding certain dietary supplements and herbs you can decrease the frequency, length, and severity of outbreaks.
As a society, we take better care of our cars, pets, and toys than we do ourselves. We often sacrifice sleep, regular meals, and exercise in pursuit of our goals. Too often we end up out of balance.
Whether we have herpes or not, we all weaken our immune systems when we don’t eat right, don’t get enough exercise or sleep, when we’re exposed to environmental toxins and when we’re under too much or chronic stress. The difference is that when you have herpes, you have a virus that’s not only a permanent resident, but depends on weakened immune system to strike.
Because the herpes virus doesn’t run it’s course and leave the body like the viruses that cause the common cold, there’s always the possibility the virus will reoccur. Herpes is an opportunistic virus. It takes hold and comes back when the immune system is weak or when you are run down.
But if you keep your immune system healthy, something each of us has a good deal of control over, you can significantly reduce your chances of future outbreaks.
Like any fact of life, this one is simple: when you’re immune system is weak, the greater the chances you’ll have outbreaks.
Improving immunity is like a balancing act. There are things to do and things not to do. Depending on your habits and personality, some things will be easy to changes, others will take more work.
Through research for articles and my book, Controlling Herpes Naturally, and my own experience in trying different approaches, I’ve identified 10 areas people with herpes need to pay attention to in order to stay healthy.
Food is the body’s building blocks – it’s the raw material our cells use to maintain every body function. If your body doesn’t get all the nutrients it needs or those nutrients are quickly depleted through stress, you can become undernourished, comprising your immune system’s ability to fend off invaders.
Several studies have the most common factors involved in reducing or impairing immunity. They are obesity, high cholesterol, excessive alcohol, and sugar consumption.
Sugar, most definitely, has been found to reduce the ability of the body’s white cells to kill microorganisms from viruses. It also could interfere with how these same white blood cells use Vitamin C to fight infection. Sugar also blocks the absorption of B vitamins, key nutrients in helping the body cope with stress.
People with herpes also need to pay attention to what they’re eating because some foods contain high amounts of the amino acid arginine.
Arginine, like lysine, is one of the eight important amino acids. Foods such as peanuts, chocolate, raisins, some grains, especially wheat they have twice as much arginine as lysine. Too much arginine can trigger an outbreak because the herpes virus needs arginine to in order to grow and multiply.
The foods that are beneficial to people with herpes are vegetables, chicken, fish, beans and eggs. These have either equal parts or more lysine than arginine. Lysine, as many of you probably know, can suppress the growth of the herpes virus. Some you may already take lysine to reduce the frequency or severity of outbreaks.
However, lysine does have a drawback. Lysine tends to be acidic and when taken along with acid-rich foods such a meat, dairy products, and sugar can lead to hyperacidity. When the body’s internal balance between alkalinity and acidity is upset, this can also trigger an outbreak. So here’s a good rule to follow: For every serving of acidic food you eat, balance it with 2 to 3 servings of an alkaline food. Alkaline foods are fruits, vegetables, and beans.
# 2 Environmental toxins
Through food, air, and water, we’re exposed to thousands of toxic chemicals. Some of them end up accumulating in our fatty tissues and harming the immune system. Since the body always strives for balance, it will detoxify these environmental pollutants, often increasing its needs for nutrients that are too high to be met by diet alone. Taking dietary supplements may be necessary to provide the necessary vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
# 3 Sleep
Contrary to popular belief, sleep is not a luxury. Sleep restores the body and refreshes the mind. Deep sleep causes our bodies to release potent immune-enhancing hormones into the bloodstream. These hormones are vital in completing the completing the body’s nightly restorative process. When you skimp on sleep, you’re depriving your immune system of the ability to defend you against viral and bacterial invaders.
When you’re ill or recovering from an illness, you may need more than 8 hours. 10, 12, or even up to 14 hours of sleep may be necessary to repair the body and restore energy. The most restorative sleep occurs when your liver gets a chance to rest and rejuvenate itself. For most people this process starts at 11 p.m. and lasts for four to five hours.
# 4 Stress
The most common triggers of outbreaks people with herpes report is stress. Most often, it’s mental stress, but physical stress – exposure to strong sunlight or exercising hard—can be a factor as well. Stress changes our body’s internal chemistry and these changes most often affect how the immune system functions. When we’re under stress, we produce more of the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisone — both of these hormones, when constantly called on in response to stress have been found to suppress immunity.
So, in addition to balancing your diet, strive for balance in other parts of your life as well. What others and I have found be most effective in supporting the immune system and calming the nervous system are the ancient practices of meditation and yoga. Both offer truly amazing benefits by supporting the immune system by reducing the effects of stress; by offering a sense of well-being and tranquility; and by reducing negative thoughts and feelings because they both act on the sympathetic nervous system.
It’s important to remember is that benefits of yoga and meditation are cumulative. It’s not how long you practice, but how often. Practicing every day can make a very big difference in how you feel both physically and mentally. What most people find is that the more they do they more they want to do.
# 5 Exercise
For reducing stress and building immunity, you can’t beat exercise. It’s probably as good of use of your time as sleeping. Studies have shown that just 30 minutes of regular aerobic exercise such as walking boosts immunity.
Exercise that works major muscles groups –such as running and weight lifting– often have the effect of tearing down the body to build it up. Over-exertion can have the opposite effect: instead of building enhancing immunity, it can strain it to the breaking point. If your life is hectic, don’t add to it the burden of a heavy exercise schedule. Instead, take a walk, do a few yoga poses, and or practice tai chi. Mild, regular exercise allows you to let off steam while toning the internal organs and promoting more restful sleep.
# 6 Dietary supplements
Even if your diet is healthy and balanced, supplements are good idea to make up for the nutrients missing in foods grown in overworked, chemically-treated soils.
Just briefly, the supplements most helpful in maintaining a strong immune and nervous systems—are first a good daily multiple vitamin to make sure you’re getting the basics such as vitamins A, E, and C (antioxidants) and minerals such as zinc and selenium, both of which are important to immunity– and B-complex.
Other helpful supplements include raw, chopped garlic, echinancea and goldenseal, olive leaf extract, licorice root, and Siberian ginseng. The last two, licorice root and Siberian ginseng help the body deal with the internal effects of stress. However, it’s important to take them in intervals, 2 to 3 weeks at a time. For relief of the symptoms of stress, try these herbs: St. John’s Wort, valerian root, or kava kava.
Rounding out this list are a few intangibles, the stuff you don’t think can directly affect your health, but actually does make a difference in your well-being.
In this goal-oriented society, we don’t consider the fact the mind, body, and spirit are inextricably intertwined. So, the remaining items on this Top Ten list will cover the mental or spiritual side of staying healthy.
If you’re going to deal with a chronic condition like herpes, you can’t afford the luxury of a negative outlook.
How you look at life and respond to it matters. Negative thoughts and angry feelings create stress. Chronic stress then takes a toll on the body and impairs immune function.
One of the best ways I know for managing stress is keeping your sense of humor and perspective. Balance a positive outlook with a healthy dose of reality. Choose optimism over pessimism.
Also, look for role models. Consider the people you admire most: Aren’t they the ones who, in spite of their circumstances, manage to persevere and do it with a smile?
# 8 Count your blessings
It’s one of the best ways to find the positive aspects of your life, particularly when things aren’t going so well. When you see the glass as half full instead of not half empty, you can appreciate the happier aspects of your life and be happier for it.
The reality is that you’ll always find someone who appears to be better off, but you’ll also find another who is worse off. The real secret to being happy is being happy with who you are and what you have.
# 9 Live simply
When our lives are free of complications such as too many possessions, bad relationships, and an overcrowded schedule, good physical health and well being naturally follow. The reason is simple: when we truly understand what we value in our life, we then set priorities. when we do both of these things, there’s less stress in our lives.
# 10 Be kind to your self and others
That’s a gift you give yourself and makes life easier and happier.
Taking responsibility for your health has been pushed aside in the fast-paced, goal-oriented, have-to-be-busy-every-minute-of-the-day society we live in today.
After we’ve run ourselves into the ground, it’s easier to look for that magic shot-in-the-arm that will save us.
Consequently, we never learn from the recurring outbreaks or what’s behind them. Usually, outbreaks, as with most minor illnesses, are probably an indication that you’ve been neglecting yourself in some way. If that’s true, then it’s time to make some changes.
The herpes virus may be a lifelong annoyance, but if you create a healthy, balanced environment in your mind and body, more than likely, there’ll be no place for it to take over and win.
Used with permission. Michele Picozzi 1999 All rights reserved.
Michele Picozzi is the author of Controlling Herpes Naturally (Southpaw Press, 1998) and Pocket Guide to Hatha Yoga (The Crossing Press, 1998). For more information about Controlling Herpes Naturally, please visitwww.herpesnomore.southpawpress.com.
To receive a free bookmark featuring “10 Ways to Control Herpes Naturally,” send a self-addressed, #10 or business-size stamped envelope (SASE) to Southpaw Press, 1653 S. 2500 East, New Harmony, UT 84757-5083.