Being a Vegan with Herpes

Being a Vegan with Herpes

For some time now I’ve lived with herpes that I got from a partner who blatantly lied to me about having it. If you are reading this article, then there’s a good chance that you also have become a member of “The Club” due to someone’s dishonesty. Well, you’re in good company.

What made my particular situation worse than most people is that I happen to be a vegan. What I didn’t know for years was that my very healthy diet was causing me to have constant outbreaks. I mean like one after another. One outbreak would clear up and then the next one would start a day or two later. I didn’t think that it would ever end.  For most folks, they happen, clear up, and then you get a break, just like the books tell you.  I was not having the typical herpes experience, so learning to make peace with herpes and adjust like most people do wasn’t happening for me.

The Medicines I Tried for Herpes

I tried every medication available – acyclovir, famcyclovir, valacyclovir, tablets and ointments. They didn’t help. I was taking 1 gram of valacyclovir a day as a preventative measure and my outbreaks continued.

When I asked my doctor what was wrong and why the medications were not helping, he had nothing of value to offer me. He said that usually it’s bad when you first get it and it improves over time with outbreaks becoming less frequent.

Well, in my case, the outbreaks were constant. The first one was the worst, by far, but it’s not like any of them were “good.” They were always painful and I was in constant agony.

The Natural Treatments I Tried for Herpes

I even tried using essential oils to treat the lesions, which helped a bit, but it did not prevent the outbreaks. For those of you who are interested in using essential oils, I used oregano essential oil as an antiviral (it stings like hell) and clove essential oil to numb the area, which definitely helped with the constant pain.

Of course, it wears off and you have to reapply it, but the combination of oregano and clove oil worked better than any ointment I got by prescription. After tinkering around a bit, I learned to numb first with clove oil, wait about 5 minutes, and then apply the oregano oil – diluted in coconut oil makes it hurt less. You can mix it with the solid or liquid kind.

How I Figured Out My Diet was Making My Herpes Worse

Anyway, so after battling herpes for a couple of years, I kinda got out of working out due to some personal problems that had me kinda depressed. While I still had outbreaks, they tended to be less severe and less frequent.

I also happened to be single during this time and I thought maybe that the lack of sex may have something to do with the less frequent outbreaks. My doctor had advised me that sex is one of the outbreak triggers.

Since getting herpes I really didn’t feel much up to dating or having to disclose that information to someone and then get rejected. So, I just went without for a long time. In fact, I’m still single. I haven’t gotten to where I can handle trying to tell someone about it, but it’s getting better.

While there are some good resources for how to adjust to having herpes and how to tell a potential partner that you have herpes,  there is a special place in Hell for my ex.

Back to my story.

So while I wasn’t working out, the outbreaks were less. But, then, after having gained a lot of weight from sitting on my ass and eating crappy junk food all of the time, I decided it was time to get my crap together and lose some weight.

I began eating a healthier diet which included plenty of nuts, seeds, and so forth for protein. I also started working out again, and since I planned to gain some muscle, I started drinking my favorite vegan protein shake.

I was starting to feel good about finally having gotten myself motivated enough to start working out and eating better, when a couple of days later – yeah, it was really that quick – I got another outbreak. *sigh*

I figured that it was no big deal and kept on with my workouts, good vegan food, and protein shakes. When that outbreak cleared up, another one started…and then I got another one, and another one.

Figuring It Out

Nothing had really changed except my diet and my workouts, so I started doing some research and found out that vegan diets are the worst diet that exists for herpes. That is not because they are unhealthy, but because of the low ratio of the amino acid lysine to the amino acid arginine. If you aren’t suffering from a chronic virus like herpes, this is really neither here nor there. If you have herpes, however, it is a HUGE deal.

You see, vegans get much of their protein from seeds and nuts which are very low in lysine and very high in arginine. If you are a vegan who works out and drinks vegan protein shakes it’s like putting your herpes on steroids. It super-fuels them to build more of themselves.

Lysine is rather hard to come by in the vegan diet. You can get it, just not in really high amounts like you can arginine. And, again, if you don’t have herpes, it’s not a big deal (presuming that you are getting enough lysine for standard protein synthesis, which usually isn’t a problem).  Being a vegan with herpes just has a few extra challenges.  But the good news is – they’re pretty easy to fix.

What I Did to Help My Outbreaks

So, what did I do? Well, I adjusted my diet as best as I could.  I’m vegan for ethical reasons, so eating meat and dairy were simply not an option.  I was stuck being a vegan with herpes.

I can’t exactly stop eating things with arginine because they are where I get my protein, but I did cut back. I had blood tests run to make sure I was getting enough protein and they came back fine.

I decided that the best thing to do was to take lysine supplements. I experimented a bit to find the right dosage for me, which I think is quite diet dependent. I tried 1,000 mg, then 2,000 mg, and finally 4,000 mg/day. I found that taking two doses of 2,000 mg of lysine – one in the morning and one at night right before I went to sleep was the ideal amount for me.

I still have outbreaks, but they are less frequent and less severe. I really wish my doctor would have told me this. It would have saved me a lot of painful days.  Being a vegan with herpes isn’t easy, but with careful diet monitoring and lysine supplements, you can make it much easier to deal with.

Rest and Relaxation Are Also Key

It took a long time for me to get around to it, as I thought that I had addressed everything I needed to, but eventually I realized that I had a lot of stress that was working against all my other best efforts to control my outbreaks.  I was not resting well, and I was carrying around a lot of stress in the forms of negative self-talk and just keeping up with my hectic life.

I eventually landed on a website that referred me to something called The Gupta Program.  The Gupta Program teaches you how to take advantage of the brain’s neuroplasticity, or ability to change.  When we identify our thought patterns that we have – such as “no one will ever love me because I have herpes,” or “I’m just broken and worthless.  Who could possibly want me?” (both of which are not true) – we are able to reprogram our brains.

The Program walks you through identifying those patterns, and then it teaches you how to train your brain to have new, healthy patterns of thought that do not obsess over the condition.  Once you learn this, your stress levels drop, sleep improves, and your body is less likely to experience outbreaks as often.