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Arginine and Herpes

Arginine and Herpes

Researchers believe that arginine is responsible for flaring up of herpes outbreak. Let us explore the link between arginine and herpes in greater detail in this article.
Ashwini Kulkarni Sule
Last Updated: Mar 20, 2018
Herpes is a highly contagious viral disease caused due to a virus named Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV). This condition is characterized by formation of fever blisters or cold sores on certain parts of body such as in and around mouth (oral herpes) and on genitals (genital herpes). Oral herpes is caused due to HSV-1 virus, while HSV-2 virus is responsible for genital herpes. Once you contract herpes, it remains with you forever.
Although, it is not curable, it is certainly possible to control herpes outbreaks. A recent research has established a link between herpes flare up and arginine intake. In that regard, researchers encourage people to avoid foods with arginine. In this article, we are going to find out more on what is arginine and how does it influence herpes breakout. But before that, it would be interesting to know why herpes is not curable.
Why is Herpes Not Curable
The herpes virus attacks the nervous system and makes it its permanent home. It resides in structures named ganglion, which are located deep in the spinal cord. This inconspicuous location makes it difficult for any medication to reach the ganglion where the virus is located. As a result, the virus stays and thrives there throughout your lifetime. However, this virus is not active all the time. During your lifetime, you will experience several periods of dormancy and outbreaks of herpes. Proper knowledge regarding this infection can help you to extend the dormancy period and keep the flare ups to bare minimum. Study of an amino acid named arginine can prove to be of great help in this matter.
Role of Arginine
Human body needs amino acids for performing various tasks in the body. Some amino acids can be synthesized by the body while others have to be supplied externally through diet or supplements. Amino acids that are to be taken externally are called essential amino acids, while those that the body can synthesize itself are non essential amino acids.
Arginine is classified as semi-essential amino acid as body can make it itself but not in sufficient amounts. There is more demand for arginine during the growing years in particular. Arginine performs various functions in the body, most important being the relaxation of blood vessels. This property can be used in the treatment of several cardiovascular diseases.
Besides, it can also cure erectile dysfunction in males. It has been found to be of great help in curing male infertility as well as sexual dysfunction in women. It has proved to be of great use in treating cold and migraines. However, in spite of all these positives, intake of arginine must be controlled, especially by people suffering from herpes.
How Arginine Affects Herpes Breakout
Increase of arginine dosage or intake is associated with herpes outbreak. One possible cause for this could be that arginine produces nitric oxide (NO) in the body, which causes flare up of cold sores. Incidentally, NO is responsible for sustaining longer erections in men. Hence, those taking arginine for erectile dysfunction are dissuaded from taking it, if they are infected with herpes virus.
Besides, it only makes sense to avoid foods high in arginine. Given below are some arginine rich foods that one needs to avoid with herpes.
  • Chocolates
  • Peas
  • Nuts
  • Coconut
  • Dairy products
  • Gelatin
  • Meat
  • Fish
  • Oats
  • Soybeans
  • White flour
  • Wheat
  • Wheat germ
On the other hand, lysine is another amino acid, which works against herpes virus. Hence, people with herpes outbreak are advised to eat low arginine, high lysine foods. Small amount of arginine in combination with lysine is considered alright, however, anything more than that can trigger herpes breakout.
Herpes can be controlled, if not cured by making appropriate changes to your diet. A diet low in arginine can reduce herpes breakout and keep the discomfort to minimum.
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