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Sixty percent of Australians have herpes simplex I and 15 percent have herpes simplex II. So if you have it, you’re not alone, in fact you’re in the majority - along with Angelina Jolie!

This skin-blistering nerve virus is in the same family as chickenpox, shingles, and glandular fever. Some may carry the virus and never experience symptoms, yet still spread it. The only way to tell if someone is infected is with an antibody blood test, which is highly recommended before kissing or unprotected sex. The virus can be contracted by skin contact even when there’s no visible blister and remain inactive in the body for long periods but typically when it occurs for the first time it hits you hard. Take heart, it will never be as bad again. The psychological suffering of herpes is often more devastating than the physical effects ruining relationships and making people feel like ‘damaged goods'.

Unforgettable first time

The onset of herpes feels like a feverish flu with body ache, swollen glands, irritation and tingling in the area. This lasts a few days until reddened areas appear at the infected site, creating excruciating piercing pain that lasts 3-7 days. The spots turn into blisters then burst, leaving scaly sores which gradually heal. Outbreaks vary and can be pimple-like sores or hard bumps. Sometimes it's mistaken for pimples or shaving rash, but by the painful blister phase the diagnosis is usually clear. From the tingly stage to the complete clearing of the scab, the virus is highly contagious so abstain from kissing, oral or penetrative sex at this time. Some people never get another outbreak, others get minor recurrences when stressed or vulnerable. HSVI prefers the facial region, so if contracted genitally it won’t replicate as frequently as HSVII will in the genital region. Here's how to live happily with herpes.
1. Forgive yourself and the person who gave it to you. Accept you have it and manage it with all the amazing modalities available.
2. Calm your mind. Meditate and use prescribed painkillers and antivirals. Consider cleansing Bach Flower remedies: Crab Apple to restore your sense of self-worth and purity, Pine to help guilt, and Mimulus to allay overwhelming fears. Don’t worry about what others think, you are a good person going through a challenging time. Most people either have herpes or know someone who does.
3. Join a support group and seek counselling to vent emotions and gain empathy.
4. Educate yourself about how to prevent an outbreak and spreading it. This includes lifestyle, diet, safe sex, supplements, herbs, and The Ultimate Zapper (see below).
5. Put it in a positive perspective. Rather than letting herpes define you, see it as a blessing in disguise, a motivator to take care of yourself and respect sexuality. As Napoleon Hill wrote, “Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.”

Staying strong

Herpes management involves skin protection, alkalising, immune-boosting, antiviral approaches. Use plenty of lubrication on lips and genitals during sex. Between outbreaks, use condoms to reduce risk of infection; however they don’t provide 100 percent protection because a lesion may be uncovered by a condom. Wash area with antiviral soap straight after sex and always wash hands after touching the area. Because the herpes virus cannot live very long outside of the body, it's highly unlikely to be spread by towels, sheets, or clothing. Some contraceptive foams contain nonoxynol-9 which kill the herpes virus, but they shouldn't be relied upon, especially during an outbreak. Reduce sun and wind exposure to affected areas, and avoid known triggers (stress, sickness, tiredness, artificial sweeteners, foods high in arginine). Arginine is an amino acid that feeds HSV. It is high in chocolate, nuts, protein shakes with arginine, and all grains. Taking Lysine limits the virus so enjoy plenty of lysine-rich foods (dairy, fish, beets, avocados, mangos, apples, apricots, pears, figs, sprouts). For a complete list of arginine and lysine levels in foods see http://www.dynamiclear.com/herpes-blog. Supplementing with lysine daily guards against outbreaks and protects you from all viruses. I suggest 1,000mg a day as a maintenance dose and 2,000mg if you feel a tingle or blister. At the first sign of an outbreak, applying ice to the area - one minute on and one minute off for 10 minutes - can cause the virus to retreat inward again.

Other antivirals to take as prevention and treatment are olive leaf extract, neem, astragalus, echinacea, ashwagandha, hypericum, lauricidin (a monolaurin supplement), and zinc chelate. Colloidal silver is an effective antiviral used externally and internally. Bergamot or lime essential oils are also good externally. Homoeopathic remedies include hypericum, rhus tox and sulphur. Frequent or severe episodes may benefit from a suppressive (preventive) therapy, such as Valtrex®. If you’re prone to outbreaks related to menstruation, take ashwagandha, evening primrose oil and aloe vera juice. If it’s genital herpes,use a moon cup rather than pads and tampons, which can increase irritation. Essential oils of oregano and lemon balm mixed at a 1:50 dilution with coconut oil and applied daily externally on the area and spine is very effective. Straight tea tree oil helps to dry up the lesion better than anything. Green clay can soothe the area and calendula cream, pawpaw ointment or vitamin A and E oil can accelerate healing. Australian founder of Dynamiclear, Dr John Spurge ND, found fewer, smaller and further apart outbreaks after each patient's application of naturopathic Dynamiclear. See his extensive herpes network information at www.herpes-coldsores.com. Inventor of The Ultimate Zapper claims it cured his HSV, with many testimonials on his site - http://zap.intergate.ca.

Love prevails

One of the hardest issues facing cold sore sufferers is fear of rejection. Remember even oral cold sores are contagious to any body area, so this should also be revealed. With cool confidence explain the low risk of contagion, the cautionary measures you can take, and the high incidence of the condition. Ask them to get tested as they are possibly asymptomatic carriers. Many couples have reported no transmission of the virus even though they have been in a sexual relationship for decades. Others prefer to seek partners through the free herpes sufferers dating sites, including hmates.com which has nearly 25,000 members. Over time most people handle this virus like a common cold, a minor annoyance that’s quickly overcome and prevented by healthy living.

Caroline Robertson is a naturopath and homoeopath with over 20 years experience. www.carolinerobertson.com.au