Some of the latest research indicates that 90% of the world’s population is infected with one or both types of the herpes simplex virus. The virus is transmitted through contact with lesions, mucosal surfaces, genital and oral secretions, and skin (through viral shedding).   Although symptoms of the herpes virus are usually manageable, they remain incurable.  The antiviral drugs used to treat HSV (such as acyclovir) may be effective, but drug-resistant herpes viruses remain a concern.  There is a need for new antiviral agents potentially found in plant-based therapies.

Some promising natural agents include:

  • Indole-3-Carbinol:  an isolated constituent of cruciferous vegetables (cabbage, broccoli, bok choy, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts) that has been shown to arrest HSV in its replication in vitro.
  • Astragalus Polysaccharide:  a highly active immune modulator extract which is believed to exert a protective effect on astrocytes (cells that regulate the transmission of electrical impulses within the brain) exposed to HSV-1 by enhancing an immunomodulatory pathway.
  • Sulforaphane:  another extract derived from the cruciferous vegetable family known to have antioxidant properties and reduce neurotoxicity.
  • Licorice Root Extract: contains anti-herpetic characteristics that inhibit the HSV attachment process to vero cells in vitro.  Licorice root was also found to stunt the growth of and permanently inactivate HSV; reduce HSV activity and mortality rate in herpes simplex encephalitis; and hinder numerous viruses including, but not limited to, HSV.

In addition to the above agents, there are additional phytocompounds being researched for their anti-herpetic actions.  It is encouraging to note that nature may hold the key to our fight against HSV.



Naturopathic Doctor News & Review, Christa Lamothe, ND

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