Herpes is a disease with symptoms manifesting as a flare up sores or painful red blisters on the eyes, lips, genitals, and/or skin. The causes of this condition are the varicella-zoster viruses and the herpes simplex I and herpes simplex II viruses usually accompanied with the debilitation of immune function. The most typical signs of this virus are shingles (varicella-zoster), cold sores (herpes I), and genital sores (herpes II).
TCM or Traditional Chinese Medicine treats these diseases using a two-forked approach. First, herbs that have shown to stop the herpes virus and second, herbs that take care of the constitution of the patient, are used.
Facial and Mouth Herpes
Oral herpes, commonly referred to as cold sores, typically affect the lip, although it can also affect the eye (ophthalmic herpes) or flare up near the nose. It is often caused by herpes simplex I, which usually affects the face. The genitals, on the other hand, are the areas usually affected by the herpes simplex II. (Actually, this can be inverted, but it is not really relevant which of the herpes viruses is present in TCM treatment).
The onset of infection due to the herpes virus is believed to begin in childhood when it can be totally asymptomatic. Once it infects the body, the virus resides within the nerve cells of the mouth/face where it lies dormant and from to time, flares up into acute cold sore symptoms. This is anteceded by burning, soreness, and tingling, and followed by a blister, that, sooner or later, crusts and weeps over with a yellow scab. At any stage of the eruption, there is a huge likelihood of infection, particularly when a person comes into contact with the fluid.
This entire progression is suggestive of Damp Heat and Toxic Fire or Heat, TCM terms that describe any bacterial or viral infection, and is referred to as toxin or toxic. People with herpes know this disease can be a fiery, extremely hot condition, with a prominent burning sensation, and for which heat from spicy food, fever, stress or even sunlight can be an exacerbating factor. And lastly, damp-heat is a term describing any infected, wet, fluid-filled blister.
Treatment can be divided into short- and long-term goals. The most logical goal for short-term treatment is to limit or halt an imminent eruption, and this is mostly based upon the timing of treatment. If, at the first signs of sensitivity and tingling herbs are taken, the sore can be completely prevented from manifesting.
TCM treatment’s long-term objective is to totally eliminate or lessen the eruptions. To achieve this, the TCM therapist needs to evaluate why the dormant virus erupts so often. There may be two possible causes for this: Chi Deficiency and Liver Fire.
In this type of TCM imbalance, the energy reserve of the body is low and this means the immune system of the body is weak, giving the herpes virus the liberty to propagate and wreak havoc on the body. Low energy reserve can be due to: eating an unhealthy diet for a long time, a weak constitution, or the vicious cycle of repeated eruptions of herpes toxins that overburden the body further resulting in a more severe type of chi deficiency. This pattern typically manifests as digestive symptoms, tiredness, paleness, and teeth marks on a pale tongue with a yellowish greasy fur. The goal of the treatment is to attack the herpes toxin and tonify the chi.
In this type of disharmony, the person has a congested Fire and Heat condition existing previously in his body. At the best of times, his body is very hot, and this heat can easily set off the hot pathogenic herpes. People with this condition are typically strong, have a brawny constitution, and a red tongue. This disharmony may be due to long term, hidden, pent-up resentment or frustration or long term eating of barbequed meats and other kinds of extremely warming foods. Fire tends to naturally erupt upwards making it likelier to set off upper-body skin eruptions. Liver Fire also contributes to eye herpes. To resolve this disharmony, herpes toxin and Liver Fire is simultaneously addressed with herbal remedies. In addition, herbs that steer the prescription to the eye and/or lips, are included.
Commonly called shingles, this disease is derived from the chicken pox virus. It may lay dormant for decades, waiting from an opportunity to activate/erupt. This disease is usually related to a weakening immune system, due to aging or from another illness. People above 50 years of age are the most susceptible to this condition. Blisters caused by shingles often follow the path of an intercostal nerve. Herpes Zoster is an infamously painful condition, prefaced and followed by hypersensitivity of the diseased strip of skin long after the healing of the blisters. This acute stage is resolved as a Liver Fire disharmony, and once resolved, it’s followed by effective tonification of Chi.
Lower Body Genital Herpes
The symptoms of this virus are found in the buttocks, perineum, and genitals, and they can be transmitted sexually.
TCM healing techniques used are the same as the facial/oral type, long with an additional condition: Dampness.
Dampness must also be taken into account in the treatment of genital herpes because the urinary and reproductive organs are in a very warm and moist environment. Moisture easily thickens and congeals under extreme heat produced by emotional stress, hormonal fluctuations, and the herpes toxin. This induces, stagnates, and blocks further heat, with an ideal set up now in place for future eruptions of herpes.
Therapy continues to evaluate how much Chi Deficiency versus Liver Heat is in the body; herbal combinations addresses all these factors. With timely treatment, an outbreak of oral herpes can be stopped in its tracks.
TCM has been proven to work extremely well in the treatment of all kinds of herpes. But you need to realize that the longer you’ve had the disease, with herbal medicine, the longer it will take to heal. Be that as it may, you will experience the frequency of eruptions significantly reduced within a short period of time.
TCM cannot totally eliminate all strains of varicella or herpes virus in the body, but it does definitely stop or minimize the likelihood of flare ups.