I have herpes. No one knows why people like us get outbreaks, except that stress plays some role. Are there other triggers?” –J.J., Pueblo, Colorado
Answer: Obvious triggers include stress, exhaustion, illness and alcohol. Many people report that certain foods can be a trigger and I’ll tell you why shortly. The herpes virus is one of the smartest infectious bugs known to man. It is responsible for fever blisters, genital lesions, shingles, and chicken pox. Other virulent strains of herpes infections include mononucleosis, cytomegalovirus, Epstein Barr and HHV-6. No one knows how to eradicate herpes once you’re infected, but you are definitely tainted for life as the virus lays dormant in the body. It can also mutate and reactivate at any time. Certain foods contain a natural amino acid called arginine. While arginine provides certain benefits to the body, it also feeds a herpes virus and may lead to a reactivation or outbreak.
Arginine is found in all kinds of nuts, whole wheat, sesame seeds/flour, pumpkin seeds, cottonseed flour, carob, coconut, orange juice, grapes and popcorn. Arginine is found in combination with another amino acid, lysine in many foods. To be healthy, you want to have a little of both these amino acids on board. On the bright side, lysine is helpful to the herpes sufferer by reducing the occurrence, severity and healing time of outbreaks. It is found in yogurt, milk, cheese, apples, mango and papaya. Bottom line, tilt your diet toward the lysine side for a while. Ask your doctor about taking lysine supplements (1 – 3 grams per day) and about altering your diet. You can also consider taking anti-viral supplements, one such product is called ViraStop and it’s sold at health food stores nationwide.