Genital herpes is a common sexually transmitted infection (STI) whereby 1 in 8 adult Australians have it. It is one of a group of related viruses including cold sores, shingles and chickenpox and is a lifelong infection. Medication is one option but absolutely not the only one. The important thing to remember is that there is no cure. Treatment is about management so having options and strategies you can do for prevention is ideal.

The most important thing to remember is that fundamentally, genital herpes it is a virus. Anything that depletes the immune or nervous systems can trigger an outbreak. The most common trigger is stress – physical, mental or emotional. You are particularly vulnerable when you are run-down or going through a rough period emotionally. As such, the easiest strategy for prevention is relaxation in whatever form works for you. Meditation or yoga works for some but baking a cake may be more your thing. Chilling out is what is required. Safe sex is obviously essential for both contracting and encouraging outbreaks. If you have an outbreak either avoid sexual contact or use protection. Cross contamination is not a good idea for either of you!

The herpes virus thrives on one amino acid called Arginine and hates another amino acid called lysine. Arginine food sources include chocolate, peanuts, soya beans and other legumes, nuts, seeds, carob and coconut. As such, avoid them during outbreaks and if you’re prone to repeated episodes, avoid altogether. Encouraging lysine rich foods such as animal proteins including eggs, fish, chicken, dairy products and most fruits and vegetables are beneficial as well. Realistically, you’re best off taking a supplement of lysine and combining it with Vitamin C and Zinc. Preventative doses at lower levels are good ideas but therapeutic doses such as 500mg-1g of lysine 3x/day is essentially to get it under control. The herbal medicine St John’s Wort is not just for depression. It has fantastic antiviral properties specific to this type of virus. Lemon Balm is equally beneficial.

Remember, women with genital herpes are more prone to cervical cancer so make sure you have a pap smear annually.