7:14 pm - 11/04/2011

Tips for stopping a herpes outbreak before it starts?

Greetings, Vagina Warriors!

First, can I say how much I freaking HEART this community? I was at a book reading the other night (Heather Corinna was reading from S.E.X and Jaclyn Friedman was reading from What You Really Really Want - both FANTASTIC books) and in the subsequent drinks-and-chatting I ended up getting a whole conversation with another person about how rad y'all are. She heard me mention VagPag across the table and turned to greet me with "Aren't they the BEST?!"

Alright, on to my question:

I'm 25 and I've had herpes (type 1) vaginally for the last 10 years. I had one outbreak when I was first infected (the very first time I ever received oral sex, whee!) and have had absolutely no outbreaks since then. I basically have the best herpes ever - we usually get along quite well.

A few times in the last 10 years I've had "twinges" that I've felt in my vulva, usually in my inner lips. Every time this has happened it's been a great reminder that I need to calm down, get enough sleep ... decrease all the stress-factors that could lead to an outbreak. Other HSV-positive friends/partners have said that when they're nearing an outbreak they get those twinges, and so far I've managed to head any potential outbreaks off.

I've gotten twinges less than a dozen times in the last 10 years and they've never lasted longer than a day. Yesterday and today, though, they've been pretty persistant. It's no mystery why - I've been incredibly stressed, not sleeping enough at ALL, and been a mad tangle of emotions. I take 1500 mg of lysine daily (and have for years), and doubled that dose today. I got plenty of sleep last night and am planning on keeping up that trend for at least another day or two. Usually, though, I feel better by now.

So, my question: If you have herpes and can sense outbreaks before they happen, what do you do to fend them off? I don't particularly care which type you have or where you were infected/experience outbreaks. Of course, this assumes that other folks can "head their herpes off at the pass," but I figured it was worth a try to ask! I'd love to add some extra tactics to my arsenal.

Thanks in advance, VagPag!

ETA: Oops, I forgot to title this post! Fixed now.
kuradi8 5th-Nov-2011 02:19 am (UTC)
Google L-LYSINE HERPES for some interesting online articles.
kuradi8 5th-Nov-2011 02:20 am (UTC)
Aw crap, never mind. How did I miss it in your post???
ext_2072105 Herpes solutions18th-Jul-2013 10:47 pm (UTC)
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misfit4leaf 5th-Nov-2011 02:56 am (UTC)
Whenever I sense myself getting sick, I load up on vitamin c to fortify my immune system. I do the same when I feel a cold sore coming on.
archangelbeth 5th-Nov-2011 03:05 am (UTC)
I have oral herpes, and if I'm sure I'm getting an outbreak, I break out the Valtrex. (Well, the generic of it, if possible. Stuff's blighted expensive!) If I'm out of Valtrex, I break out the Lysine (like last night... and either it was a false alarm, or it worked!).

Good luck heading this one off at the pass!
kelsietrpt 5th-Nov-2011 04:56 am (UTC)
I've heard lemon balm is a great ally in the battle to keep herpes outbreaks down to a minimum. Here's an article on it. I have SO MANY bottles of homemade lemon balm tincture. E-mail me (kelsiegray@gmail.com) and I'd be happy to arrange to send you some to try. :)
morwensdoor 5th-Nov-2011 05:08 am (UTC)
Oh, thanks so much! I'll send you an email in just a moment. It looks like that link didn't get pasted into your post - try again?
elephantus45 5th-Nov-2011 06:58 am (UTC)
How do you make it? Are the ingredients easy to get? I'm willing to try anything to help my outbreaks.
kelsietrpt 5th-Nov-2011 03:28 pm (UTC)
The first thing you'll need is fresh lemon balm. It's super easy to grow, and is one of the herbs that you can easily find at nurseries in the spring--even at places like Wal Mart or Home Depot. Plant it in a sunny place. Let the lemon balm grow and grow all summer. When it reaches it's peak--just before it starts to flower--find yourself a canning jar (any size, depending on how much tincture you want to end up with...even a smaller jar will yield MANY bottles of tincture). Harvest as many lemon balm leaves/stems as you need to cram the canning jar full. Lemon balm plants enjoy getting trimmed--it just makes them bushier and happier--so don't worry about cutting off too much. I always just take some scissors and cut whole stems, then roughly chop them into smaller pieces before putting them in the jar. Once you've got your lemon balm crammed into the jar, you'll need to add the menstrum, which is the liquid you'll be using to extract the properties from the lemon balm. Your best choice is alcohol, but it can't just be any old liquor. It needs to have a certain ratio of alcohol to water in it. Some people use plain old cheap 80 proof vodka, which is pretty effective. Some people prefer Bacardi 151 cut with a little water, and some people go for the Everclear, which, again, will have to be cut with a little water. For a tastier tincture (when dealing with bitter herbs), you can use brandy. Lemon balm is so tasty on its own, that tincturing it in any high-proof, clear alcohol should be fine. I recommend getting a handle of cheap-o vodka.

Pour the alcohol over the lemon balm in the jar until you have filled it completely to the top with very little headspace. Use a chopstick or something similar to dispel any air bubbles trapped in the jar, and top off with more alcohol if needed. Cap the jar tightly and label it with the contents and the date. Put your jar in a warm, dark place and shake it daily (if you can remember) or otherwise as often as possible. A month is the MINIMUM amount of time to let a tincture macerate. I prefer three months or more. Check your tincture occasionally to see if you need to top it off with more alcohol, and also to see how it is smelling. You want to smell the herb strongly, which means it's being infused into the alcohol.

kelsietrpt 5th-Nov-2011 03:29 pm (UTC)
..continued because I exceeded the character limit!

While you're waiting for your tincture to macerate, you will need to gather some bottles--preferably the glass kind with droppers attached to the lids. Friends who use herbal remedies might have some, or you can buy them online. DO NOT store your tincture in a bottle that once contained cosmetic products or essential oils. It's impossible to wash away all the residue, and you will ruin your tincture (and possibly your health!).

After at least a month (or preferably longer--I sometimes let tinctures macerate for six months!), gather your supplies for decanting the tincture. You'll need cheesecloth, a fine mesh strainer (the finer the better), a large-ish bowl (like a mixing bowl), a funnel, and your bottles. Stretch the cheesecloth over the top of the bowl and secure it with a rubberband or clothespins. Open up your tincture jar and pour the contents over the bowl with the cheesecloth on it. Bundle up all of the wet herbal material in the cheesecloth and squeeze it over the bowl as hard as you can, to extract every bit of tincture from the herb. Think like you're "wringing" the herbs out, which is basically what you're doing. When you can't get any more liquid to come out, you can discard the herbs and the cheesecloth. Now take another bowl (or a measuring cup with a pouring spout, which will make the next step MUCH easier) and your mesh strainer and strain the tincture into the other bowl to remove the sediments that are probably floating around. This isn't totally necessary, but makes for a prettier product that is less likely to clog your droppers.

Once you've strained your tincture, give it a taste. Is it lemony and herbaceous? You've probably done it right (it's pretty hard to mess this up!). Situate your funnel at the mouth of one of the bottles and fill the bottle with tincture. I like to get really big cobalt blue or brown bottles, because if you get a bunch of small ones, you'll end up with about 50 filled bottles!! Pour slowly, or you'll definitely risk an overflow.

That's it! Your bottles are filled. Cap them, label them, and store them in a dark place. Tinctures can keep for years if stored properly. Some people say they age and become even better over time, which I have noticed with a few of the things I've made.

Lemon balm tincture is tasty and totally safe--you can't od on it, as it is a very, very gentle herb. If you feel a herpes outbreak coming on, I'd recommend taking a dropperfull of tincture every 3 hours. You can put it under your tongue, put it in a small amount of warm water, or drop it into a cup of herbal tea. As a bonus (and if you're growing your own lemon balm OR you know someone with an overwhelmingly large plant), you can harvest some lemon balm and dry it for making tea with. A happy side effect of lemon balm is that, for many people, it seems to bring them cheerfulness and peace in times of stress. It is often used to quell hyperactive children.

So yeah...I totally did not mean to write a novel, but there you go. These instructions could apply to ANY herb, though there are variations when it comes to roots, which usually need to be dried before being tinctured. Obviously, there are also variations in dosages, as well! Some herbs are very potent and should only be taken minimally. Lemon balm is one that you simply can't overdo.

Hope this helps! If you have any questions, I'd be happy to answer.

For what it's worth, almost all quality herb shops will have lemon balm tincture already made. Mountain Rose Herbs is one I can recommend. Bear Wallow Herbs is another good one. Making it yourself is so much cheaper (in the long run) and more fun, though, that it's a skill anyone interested in herbal remedies should try to hone. Obviously, it's a slow process, so if you want lemon balm tincture NOW, ordering might be your best shot.

Whew!
elephantus45 5th-Nov-2011 10:22 pm (UTC)
Thank you for taking the time and typing that all out for me! You're awesome :D I will certainly try this.
knittinggoddess 6th-Nov-2011 03:17 am (UTC)
If lemon balm is anything like other mint, it's very easy to plant from clippings. And it grows like crazy around here (portland Oregon), so I assume it's equally easy to find in Seattle neighborhoods.
elephantus45 5th-Nov-2011 07:01 am (UTC)
Ugh I hate that tingly feeling. When I feel it I put tea tree oil on a baby wipe and wipe everywhere. I don't think this does anything to actually prevent an outbreak, but it tingles better than herpes :p and it makes any sores I do get feel muchhh better. other than that I take valacyclovir, though its damn expensive without insurance (I've got a script for daily suppressent, but its been working for me to take every other day. I was getting an outbreak each month with my cycle ugh. And I just discovered l lysine so I'm trying that now too.) Good luck!
tigana33 5th-Nov-2011 03:37 pm (UTC)
An anti viral is the best response you can take, it is pretty much always reliable in stopping obs or shortening them considerably, lessening symptoms.
Acyclovir (generic antiviral same ingredients as valtrex) is cheap as dirt at most major drug stores if you live in the states and have access to cvs or duane reade. Have a doc write you a script.
six_dollar_baby 5th-Nov-2011 03:52 pm (UTC)
When i feel an outbreak coming on, i down the lysine and a multivitamin, then i ice down the area and slather on this stuff: http://www.drugstore.com/herpecin-l-lip-balm-stick-spf-30/qxp15808

it has lysine and lemon balm in it, and it's a godsend. i haven't had a full-blown outbreak in years because of it.
jujustars 6th-Nov-2011 12:31 pm (UTC)
I ice, a lot. I get them around my mouth (normally between my top lip and nose, there's no disguising that with lipstick, haha). When I notice it starting, I put some ice cubes in a zip lock bag and hold it on until it melts. Then I get more ice. I'm not sure how much is enough, I generally repeat it at least a few times. I haven't had a cold sore in about 3 years because of this (I normally get one or two a year). I'm not sure how well that could work for the genital variety, though.
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