Physiology of Genital Herpes

Genital herpes is one of the common infections seen in sexually active individuals involved in unprotected sexual activities with multiple sexual partners/ single infected partners. It is seen more common in women than men and readily spreads from men to women than the other way round. It is one of the sexually transmitted disease (STD) that causes herpetic sores which are painful blisters, commonly seen between 14 to 49 years of age. The disease is typically spread by direct genital contact with the skin surface or secretions of someone who is infected.


There are 2 type of herpes simplex virus causing genital herpes that is HSV 1 and HSV 2

The virus is transmitted direct person to person contact and acquired through sexual contact of any type, the virus can be found in body fluids including saliva, semen, and vaginal secretion. This virus gets into the body through the mucous membrane (thin layer lining the openings of the body), once into the body they cause infection even after aggressive treatment they remain dormant in the nerve roots and exacerbate when triggered. They say diamonds are forever and so is herpes.



  • Symptoms can appear as early as 2 days to 30 days from coming in contact with the virus.
  • The infection usually starts with an itch at the infected area followed by blister formation
  • Blisters in penis, scrotum, buttocks for males and blisters around the vagina, anus, and buttocks for females are usually noticed
  • Blisters formation in the mouth, lips, face and anywhere else that came in contact with the infected area are usually seen
  • Blisters get ulcerated and discharge fluid
  • Systemic symptoms follow such as a headache, fever and body pain
  • Babies who are born with genital herpes (get infected through vaginal delivery) usually suffer blindness and sometimes death

Treatment in Allopathy

Physical examination confirms the diagnosis in presence of herpetic sores

The disease can be further confirmed by blood tests such as PCR and viral culture

  • Antiviral therapy, such as acyclovir alleviates pain and promotes healing of the ulcers, although genital herpes is not curable the virus remains dormant in the body until something triggers an outbreak.
  • Systemic symptoms like pain, fever, headaches can be treated by analgesic and antipyretics

Ayurveda and genital herpes

In Ayurveda genital herpes comes under the category of Aupasargika Rogas or infectious diseases. From an Ayurvedic perspective, when the immune system is weak, when the body does not receive adequate nourishment, exercise or sleep, and are exposed to environmental toxins, the body experiences imbalance of doshas. Impurity of Pitta, along with blood, is considered the main causative factor for the condition. This impurity of blood, which can also be caused due to poor digestion, wrong eating habits, leads to the appearance of lesions in the skin.

Treatment of genital herpes in Ayurveda

In Ayurveda, dosha imbalances are treated with a combination of dietary and lifestyle changes, and herbal medicines. A Pitta imbalance can lead to a disruption in Agni, the “digestive fire,” putting you at risk of herpes outbreaks. Ayurvedic treatment taken regularly can treat herpes and avoid further complications. The Ayurvedic approach to healing herpes outbreaks involves reducing psychological and physical stress, supporting the immune system and treating the sores themselves with herbal preparations.

Panchakarma and Detox

A person can go for Panchakarma to expedite healing. The aim of the detox is to rid the body of accumulated toxins or Ama and to optimize digestive fire. Vamana (emesis), Virechana(purgation), and Basti (enema) are used for removing toxins. Thereafter, herbal concoctions like Triphala and Chyawanprash for balancing the Agni and rejuvenation of the body.


Increase in intake of fresh fruits and vegetables, raisins, figs, pomegranate, and dates can fasten recovery. Vegetables like pointed gourd(parwal), bitter gourd(karela), bottle gourd(lauki) ridge gourd(tori) and snake gourd(galaka) are particularly beneficial. In fruits pomegranate, grapes, gooseberry, and coconut water are recommended. Sour, fermented and salty food can worsen the symptoms. Also, include desi ghee in your diet.

Lifestyle changes

Avoid strenuous exercise and exposure to sunlight and heat.

A good night’s sleep of more than 8 hours is vital. Half an hour of regular exercises is suggested to reduce stress, as stress is a possible factor for the trigger of herpes.

Meditation and yoga calm the body and mind thus reducing stress and decreasing the exacerbation of herpes

Ayurvedic herbs for genital herpes

The herbal preparations detoxify blood and lymph nodes by expelling the toxins and vitiated doshas. They also help to reduce the burning, inflammation and tingling sensation associated with herpes.

After balancing the doshas that the body develops immunity, the body is rejuvenated using Rasayanas. Rasayanas help to build immunity to fight recurrent attacks of the disease. One such ayurvedic preparation for body rejuvenation is Chyavanprash.

In Sthanika Chikitsa (local treatment), local application of herbal paste prepared from rose, Amalaki, neem, and sandalwood is done on the affected areas. These preparations restore and rejuvenate the structure and color of the skin and also reduce the inflammation and tenderness of the skin.

Ayurveda recommends immune-boosting, antiviral and cooling herbs. Ancient texts mention Hypericum mysorense in particular for the snake virus; other herbs studied include Prunella vulgaris, Sida cordifolia, Olive Leaf Extract, Nigella sativa, Cat’s claw, Picrorhiza kurroa and Acorus calamus which are also used for the treatment of herpes.

For mouth sores, the herb blends kama dudha can be mixed with cream to form a paste and applied topically. Other topical applications include bitter ghee and aloe vera gel.

Naturopathy and Genital Herpes

The naturopathic approach to herpes involves looking at all aspects of your health: endocrine system, immune system function, stress, exercise, diet, vitamin or mineral deficiencies. Improving each of these factors can help ensure better immune system and control of the virus.

Treatment of Genital Herpes in Naturopathy


A general detox would always help to rid the body of toxins and to build immunity. Enema, colon hydrotherapy, liver and kidney packs all help in bringing balance to the body.


Vitamin A, B, C and minerals like zinc and copper are very important for normal functioning of the immune system. Include vegetables and fruits with high antioxidants, such as colored vegetables and berries to help with skin/wound healing and raise overall immunity.

Fish provides essential omega-3 fatty acids as some of the best omega-3 foods, which help with inflammation and tissue repair. The body cannot heal without enough protein; some of the best protein foods include wild-caught fish, pasture-raised poultry, and grass-fed beef.

Zinc is needed for many chemical reactions that help rebuild skin and protect the body from viruses or infections. Topical zinc formulas have been found to be effective not only for cold sore treatment but also for prolonging remissions in herpes. To increase the intake of zinc consume more organ meats (like liver), grass-fed beef, pumpkin seeds, nuts and vegetables like spinach.

Lysine is an amino acid (a building block for protein) that can help suppress replication of the herpes virus.  Altering your diet to increase high lysine foods can help, as can lysine supplementation. Foods Rich in lysine are legumes, fish, turkey, chicken, and vegetables.

Avoiding high sugar diet such as bottled drinks, packed snack, artificially flavored eateries, alcohol, acidic and sour food is better for fast recovery and improving the immune system


Regular, moderate exercise helps to keep the immune system strong and relieves stress. Stress causes higher levels of cortisol which lowers immune function.  Helping the body to manage stress as easily as possible can help the immune system to work better. Encouraging stress reduction techniques of yoga, meditation and tai chi, will greatly assist building the immune system to protect against the herpes virus.


Good quality and quantity of rest and sleep support a healthy immune system.


Antiviral herbs: These include elderberry, calendula, echinacea, garlic, astragalus and licorice root. L-lysine can help treat and prevent outbreaks. Lemon balm extract can be used as a topical cream for healing. Vitamin C boosts immune function improving herpes. Zinc benefits include supporting immune function, keeping viruses dormant and rebuilding skin tissue to speed up healing. B-complex helps the body deal with stress and can prevent outbreaks.

Essential Oils

Essential oils that can help treat herpes include clove oil, tea tree oil, and myrrh oil. Tea tree oil is one of the most common oils used on the skin for its natural antiviral, antibacterial properties.

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