Natural Methods to fight a Herpes Simplex Virus Infection

Viral infections like herpes can be a significant health concern. Once the herpes simplex virus infects you, it stays in your body for life, hibernating in nerve cells never to go away. 

Every so often, the virus awakens, reigniting infection, causing cold sores or genital lesions to occur again. Its ability to go in and out of hiding is key to its survival by ensuring its spread from one host to the next. By hibernating in nerve cells, the virus remains out of the reach of the immune system. And then, when it comes out of hibernation, the infection recurs, and it can infect others.

The herpes simplex virus lives in over two-thirds of the population worldwide. Herpes simplex 1 virus is the strain responsible for cold sores, and herpes simplex 2 is the strain responsible for genital herpes.

Preventing infection is by avoiding sex and kissing during an outbreak and using condoms while the virus is dormant. The way to prevent the recurrence of the illness is by stopping the virus from coming out of hibernation, which can be supported by supplements and specific foods that I will mention in this article.


In a study on the potential antiviral activities of garlic, researchers recognized the disease-preventing effects of garlic in viral infections like herpes simplex. Antiviral and anti-inflammatory chemicals in garlic have been observed to hinder virus attachment to proteins that cause infection and to proteins involved in their sleep-wake periods. [1] 

Beyond adding more fresh garlic to your diet, you can make a garlic solution to apply to herpes sores directly. Mix a crushed clove of garlic with olive oil and apply the mixture to the sore three times a day, or you can slice a garlic clove in half and place it directly on the cold sore. By the following day, the sore will often be gone. You can also take garlic supplements to support your immunity against viral infections and relapses.

Vitamin D

Research shows that herpes infections are more likely to reoccur in people with vitamin D deficiencies. Increase vitamin D intake by getting sufficient sunlight, taking supplements, or eating foods rich in vitamin D, such as oily fish, mushrooms subjected to sunlight, and fortified foods like soy milk and some oatmeals. According to research that involved ten studies, vitamin D supplementation may help decrease herpes and protect against other virus infections. [2] 

Zinc Salts

Zinc, an essential mineral, is necessary for the activity or structural integrity of over 300 enzymes. Zinc sulfate is an inorganic salt when dissolved in water produces zinc ions. 

Zinc ions (Zn2+) stabilize the fold to form a zinc finger. 

Since the herpes simplex virus must come out of hibernation to infect others, a zinc finger protein can prevent this; therefore, zinc salt supplementation involved in zinc fingers can be helpful. [3-6]

In one study, 16 of 18 subjects (89%) who received treatments with zinc experienced crusting of lesions within two days (versus seven days for people receiving treatment without zinc), and full healing in 9.5 days (compared with 16 days for people who received treatment without zinc). [7]

In another study, zinc sulfate-soaked tampons were tested for their ability to reduce the recurrence of genital herpes simplex viral infections in 10 women [8]. Recurrences occurred within six months in only three subjects, but the number of people participating in the trial was small, and there was no placebo group for direct comparison. 

Other studies [9-10] show that there is not much benefit in zinc supplementation. However, since zinc salts, even at high concentrations, are nontoxic, I recommend supplementing with them to prevent transmission of any infectious agents inactivated in the presence of zinc.

Pomegranate rind extract

Pomegranate has been used as a home remedy for viral infections for centuries due to its high zinc content. Researchers studied pomegranate rind extract specifically to identify its antimicrobial or microbicidal activity against the herpes simplex virus. The studies involved using the rind extract of the fruit as a topical treatment for herpes cold sores. Peeled fresh pomegranate and the rinds were blended and boiled for about 10 minutes. The tests concluded that pomegranate rind extract as a topical solution was a potential treatment for viral herpes, particularly cold sores. [11] You can also use this liquid for treating genital herpes with a tampon soaked in the liquid inserted into the vagina.

Lysine supplements

Lysine is an essential amino acid that the body does not produce naturally and therefore must be introduced into your body through foods or supplementation. Research suggests that lysine can help slow down the growth of herpes simplex by absorbing arginine, which causes the virus to grow and reproduce. A study reviewing the outcome of introducing oral L-lysine supplements found that lysine supplementation appears to effectively prevent and treat herpes lesions. [12] 

Some foods rich in lysine include soybeans, pistachio and pumpkin seeds, spirulina, and fenugreek seed.

I recommend regularly supplementing 500-1000mg L-lysine when you are under stress or infected with a virus.

The supplementation of L-lysine has been found to improve patients with herpes simplex 1 and 2 viruses, but the results were inconclusive. [13]

Boost immune function

A healthy diet that increases immunity and promotes healthy organ function remains the best way to fight viral infections. A healthy functioning immune system is also vital in recognizing and destroying pathogens once introduced into your body. [14] To ensure healthy immune function, I recommend a diet rich in antioxidants, micronutrients, and fiber to support digestive health and a healthy gut microbiome and. Nutritional and supplement advice that promotes gut health, lymph health, and immune function can be found in my articles that you can access.

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Dr. Galit Goldfarb


  1. Rouf R, Uddin SJ, Sarker DK, et al. Antiviral potential of garlic (Allium sativum) and its organosulfur compounds: A systematic update of pre-clinical and clinical data. Trends Food Sci Technol. 2020;104:219-234. doi:10.1016/j.tifs.2020.08.006
  2. Lin LY, Bhate K, Forbes H, Smeeth L, Warren-Gash C, Langan SM. Vitamin D Deficiency or Supplementation and the Risk of Human Herpesvirus Infections or Reactivation: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Open Forum Infect Dis. 2020;8(1):ofaa570. Published 2020 Dec 22. doi:10.1093/ofid/ofaa570
  3. Eby G A, Davis D R, Halcomb W W. Reduction in duration of common cold by zinc gluconate lozenges in a double-blind study. Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 1984;25:20–24.
  4. Godfrey J C, Conant Sloane B, Smith D S, Turco J H, Mercer N, Dogfrey N J. Zinc gluconate and the common cold: a controlled clinical study. J Int Med Res. 1992;20:234–246.
  5. Kümel G, Schrader S, Zentgraf H, Daus H, Brendel M. The mechanism of the antiherpetic activity of zinc sulphate. J Gen Virol. 1990;71:2989–2997.
  6. Mossad S B, Macknin M L, Medendorp S V, Mason P. Zinc gluconate lozenges for treating the common cold: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Ann Intern Med. 1996;125:81–88.
  7. Wahba A. Topical application of zinc-solutions: a new treatment for herpes simplex infections of the skin? Acta Dermatol Venerol (Stockholm) 1980;60:175–177. 
  8. Chvapil M, Droegemueller W. Collagen sponge in gynecologic use. Obstet Gynecol Annu. 1981;10:363–373
  9. Fahim M S, Brawner T A. Treatment of genital herpes simplex virus in male patients. Arch Androl. 1980;4:79–85.
  10. Jones R. Genital herpes and zinc. Med J Aust. 1979;1:286.
  11. Houston DMJ, Bugert JJ, Denyer SP, Heard CM (2017) Correction: Potentiated virucidal activity of pomegranate rind extract (PRE) and punicalagin against Herpes simplex virus (HSV) when co-administered with zinc (II) ions, and antiviral activity of PRE against HSV and acyclovir-resistant HSV. PLOS ONE 12(11): e0188609.
  12. Mailoo VJ, Rampes S. Lysine for Herpes Simplex Prophylaxis: A Review of the Evidence. Integr Med (Encinitas). 2017;16(3):42-46.
  13. Degols G, Leonetti JP, Gagnor C, Lemaitre M, Lebleu B. Antiviral activity and possible mechanisms of action of oligonucleotides-poly(L-lysine) conjugates targeted to vesicular stomatitis virus mRNA and genomic RNA. Nucleic Acids Research. 1989;17(22):9341-9350
  14. Childs CE, Calder PC, Miles EA. Diet and Immune Function. Nutrients. 2019;11(8):1933. Published 2019 Aug 16. doi:10.3390/nu11081933


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