Find out how to treat herpes in pregnancy using natural herbs and supplements to target the virus and boost the immune system, to better protect you.
Herpes family viruses are very common in humans, which unfortunately makes them common in pregnancy too. They include chicken pox, Epstein barr, shingles, cytomegalovirus, herpes simplex 1 and 2 and more.
The purpose of this guide though is to outline the supplements that target herpes simplex virus (HSV) 1 and 2, which are more commonly known as coldsores and genital herpes respectively. Either strain can occur anywhere on the body, so location of blister isn’t an indication of the type.
If you aren’t pregnant, check out my guide to healing Epstein Barr Virus for more herbal options that target Herpes family viruses.
The risks of both types of HSV infections in pregnancy are generally considered minor unless there are genital lesions close to the due date. In that instance, there is a risk of the mother passing the infection to the baby during vaginal birth. Unfortunately this can have significant consequences to the baby.
From a conventional medical perspective, prescription antivirals such as Acyclovir or Valacyclovir are commonly recommended. They can be used either when needed, or for prevention if there is a history of recurrent genital lesions. When pharmaceuticals are recommended, the decision ultimately lies with the mother, who can weight the risks based on the time until expected due date, location of the lesions in relation to the birth canal and whether a vaginal birth is planned before making a choice on whether pharmaceutical interventions carry the risk profile that she’s comfortable with.
To prevent being in that position, there are a lot of effective natural therapies that are both safe and effective in pregnancy. The following list can be taken throughout pregnancy to prevent a herpes outbreak.
Natural supplements that treat herpes in pregnancy
Lysine is very useful, as it inhibits viral replication, accelerates recovery and suppresses recurrence of lesions. (2)
The recommended oral lysine dose in pregnancy is 50.3mg Lysine per kilo of body weight, which for a late term mother of 78kgs is around 4000mg. (3) Topical lysine may also be applied directly to the lesions.
During an outbreak, temporarily reduce the intake of high arginine foods, such as nuts, seeds, legumes and some meats. Arginine upregulates the replication of herpes viruses by reducing lysine absorption. (4) Arginine is important during pregnancy, so reduce arginine only when faced with lesions.
Boosts the production of the white blood cells;
- Neutrophils- protect from infections (6);
- Natural killer cells- kill virally infected cells (7)
- Macrophages- the pacmen that clean up immune wastes (8).
Zinc is also imperative for speedy and efficient wound healing.
Zinc regulates the striation width in the smooth muscle wall of the uterus. Adequate zinc levels make even striations which allow the uterus to contract more smoothly and efficiently when it is time to birth.
Zinc is also essential to make the neurotransmitters that help to prevent post natal depression.
Both oral and topical application of vitamin C increases the healing rate of herpes lesions.
In the Clinicians Handbook of Natural Medicine, Pizzorno states that “Oral ascorbate-bioflavonoid complex containing 1000 mg water-soluble bioflavonoids and 1000 mg vitamin C in taken five times daily at first onset and continued for 3 days reduces the outbreak of vesiculation and prevents disruption of vesicular membranes. This therapy is most beneficial when initiated at the beginning of disease.” (9)
Topical application of an ascorbic acid soaked cotton bud applied to the lesions for 2 minutes and repeated three times daily reduces the number of days with scabs. (9)
Low serum vitamin D levels are associated with recurrent herpes lesions (10). 4000iu of Vitamin D daily is associate with improved maternal and foetal outcomes and reduced pregnancy complications without any adverse effects (11). Serum levels above 78nmol /L are ideal (12).
Echinacea purpurea is a very potent virucidal agent, and inhibits HSV-1 replication while reducing infection latency rates (13) It has an excellent safety profile in pregnancy and is a Category ‘A’ herbal medicine. Dosing will vary based on the strength and type of the product you source.
Licorice root is a potent antiviral against herpes viruses, it inhibits viral replication and is directly virucidal. It is safe in pregnancy in short term usage if the mother has low or normal pregnancy blood pressure. It is not recommended orally for pregnant women with high blood pressure. Topical ointments can also be useful and have no effect on blood pressure. (14)
Nettle is a lovely gentle nutritive herb with a very strong safety profile in pregnancy. It does have mild anti viral effects against herpes viruses but more than that, it is an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant which helps the skin to heal and is traditionally used in western herbal medicine to strengthen the body and clean the blood. (5)
I hope you these suggestions give you both relief and prevention. Natural solutions give useful options for how to treat herpes in pregnancy.