Living with Herpes | Life with Herpes | Pink Tent |

Aug 23

Do I Have Herpes?

My Journey Begins In 1997, with my Psychology degree in hand from the University of Colorado at Boulder, I set out on a spiritual quest to find clarity on my life purpose. What started out as a two month trip to Europe with my sister Michelle, quickly turned into a five month adventure around the world. On Christmas eve of that same year, my life was forever changed. While trekking in Nepal I contracted the herpes virus.

Two different Doctors examined me and confirmed my worst fears. Indeed, it was herpes. Hearing it from a white coat made it official. There I was, in a developing country, hearing the worst thing that any doctor had ever told me. Dr. Pandy’s strong Indian accent made it almost surreal.

Over the next few days, the tiny, windowless room back at the hotel became my cave of isolation. I locked myself in my bedroom and laid there, trying to process the full range of human emotion, from anger and denial to grief and shame. I used to think that only the promiscuous and iv users were the one’s who suffered from STI’s. In my warped mind, I thought that I was somehow immune from contracting an STI, since I was so careful about who I even kissed. I was not sexually active until college and even then, once we had ‘the talk’ (which meant that we both came up negative for STI’s) we were in the clear. I truly trusted the few men that I was ever with and I was the kind of woman who would date the same guy for several years. How could this happen? I was more fearful of an unplanned pregnancy getting in the way of my career than I was of acquiring an STI.

There I was in Nepal, 23 years old and 7500 miles from home. All I could do was plug in my earphones and let Sting and Sarah McLachlan lull me in and out of what seemed to be a dream. How could this be? Why me? Couldn’t I go back in time to when I was free to just be me without feeling dirty and sexually numb? I felt like herpes was a thief in the night who had robbed me of my right to find love and happiness. Who would ever love me again? I couldn’t pretend anymore. I had the scarlet H. I was absolutely devastated. I had escaped 8 feet of snow from the Annapurna base camp, with avalanches all around me, but I had not escaped the inescapable herpes that my traveling partner had given to me.

I harkened back to the time I spent meditating while high in the Himalayas. The snowstorm had forced me to face myself as the chatter of the world fell away. I had questioned life and death, even including a journal entry about how I would want to be cremated if I died. With crystal clarity, the mountaintops had spoken to me. I was to become a Doctor. I knew it from the bottom of my heart.

When I began my research on herpes through the internet I was shocked at how much misinformation and myths were out there. I had no idea how prevalent herpes was and that I was not alone. I was confused, overwhelmed and felt quite vulnerable. I fell for scams in hopes of eradicating herpes from my body. Over the years, I spent tiring hours attempting to find the magic bullet, only to find my pocketbook dwindling and my hopes diminishing. I spent thousands of dollars with acupuncturists, Ayurvedic practitioners, Qi Gong masters, pills, salves, psychics, Reiki masters, tonics and website scams hoping to cure the incurable. Let me speak clearly- There is no cure for Herpes.

I knew from the bottom of my heart, herpes was here to teach me something. I also knew that suppressing my feelings was the absolute worse thing I could do. I encourage you to give yourself permission to feel it all. I recently took a look at my past journal entries and I am shocked that I had such insight after being diagnosed. Through shame, I learned compassion. Through fear, I found true love. Through turmoil, I learned peace. I strongly believe that our greatest challenges in life are set in place for some higher reason. When life presents you with a bowl full of lemons, what do you do?

Make Lemonade

It has taken me a long time to realize that no Doctor has EVER healed anything! The truth is that the body makes all of the building blocks to heal itself. Yes, Doctors have spent years and years doing surgeries and dispensing drugs, but it is the PATIENT that actually does the healing and mending. I am not saying that intervention doesn’t save lives, what I am saying is that you are more powerful than any Doctor. You have the ability to heal anything, even herpes! From my perspective, healing herpes translates into discovering a life where symptoms are manageable and the psychological trauma of the diagnosis has dissipated and been transformed into a peaceful state of surrender.

One day I was speaking at a woman’s entrepreneurial luncheon and I was asked to give my 30 second pitch. My heart began to race and beads of perspiration moistened my hands. In that moment I had a very important decision to make. I could play it safe and pitch my business as a Doctor of Chiropractic specializing in energy based medicine and nutrition. Or I could get naked, or so it felt, and announce that my speciality was in using my personal journey with herpes to assist other women with herpes to heal. It was a pivotal point for me because up until that time, I had never announced to a group of women that I have herpes. The shock to the room felt palpable and I am certain that other women could not believe what I had just said.

At the end of the meeting an older woman waited for an extended period of time to talk to me. I sat down and was knee to knee with her while she shared her story of herpes with me for the first time in thirty years. As you can imagine, the tears came rolling down her face after years and years of suppression. There we met, soul to soul, as if there wasn’t anyone else in the room. I created a sacred space in that moment that allowed her to open up quite possibly in ways that she never had to anyone, but me…a complete stranger! This 64 year old woman had been diagnosed 30 years ago and was able to keep it a secret from her husband whom she had been with the whole time. She said that she had not cheated on him, but that the symptoms showed up for the first time after they had been married. She explained how her outbreaks were severe enough that it was painful for her to sit down. I asked if she had been intimate with her husband since her diagnosis and she said yes, but that she would blame her period or a headache to keep her husband at arms length during outbreaks. I was shocked to hear that she had two grown children and had shared a bed with a man for 30 years without ever telling him.

Her inspiration for telling me her story was that she had recently been divorced and was still getting outbreaks and was scared to death to date. We set up an appointment the following week and my level of confidence in helping other women grew a bit more. Here was a woman who suffered dearly in silence. Who else was out there hiding behind their shadows? I was being called to shine a light on them and to radiate out my joy.

If you have been hiding in the shadows, it is time to share your story. The longer you wait, the longer you will suffer. In the end, I am certain that you will feel as if a huge weight has been lifted from your heart and that you will literally feel lighter. I too once felt alone, desolate, angry, frustrated, dirty, confused and depressed. I have met many women on my path who share these same feelings when they are diagnosed with herpes. As a Doctor and as a friend, I have heard many tragic stories of women giving up their dreams of finding a partner and living an extraordinary life due to their herpes diagnoses. I can tell you now that there is a brilliant life waiting for you if you believe that you can live, love and thrive as I have done. I am happily married to the man of my dreams, living the life I never thought was possible. Just one year ago I gave birth to my beautiful baby girl, Madeline, in the privacy of our own home. I did it all naturally and you can too! Let my story serve as an inspiration of finding love and embracing life.

Please join me in a revolution to de stigmatize herpes and inspire other women to live out their dreams, no matter what! Thank you for being you. You are loved beyond measure. I look forward to hearing your story.

Live. Love. Thrive Dr. Kelly Martin Schuh Author, Speaker & Herpes Wellness Expert

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Herpes Simplex Treatment

Aug 12

By Dr Ananya Mandal, MD

The treatment of individuals infected with the herpes simplex virus depends on several factors. Some of the factors that determine the intensity of herpes simplex infection and therefore the type of treatment include:

Age of the patient
For example, neonatal herpes is treated in a different way to adult herpes.

Site of infection
Different types of herpes infect different areas of the body and include genital herpes, oral herpes, ocular or eye herpes and herpes encephalitis (affecting the brain). The type of infection determines the priority and setting of treatment. For example, oral herpes may be treated at home while herpes encephalitis may require hospitalization and emergency treatment.

Pregnancy status A woman who is pregnant needs to be screened for the infection before risking transmission to the newborn during childbirth. The mother is at particular risk of transmitting the virus if she has been exposed to it since becoming pregnant. Recurrence status Primary or first-time infection is treated differently to recurrent infection. In the case of primary infection, antiviral tablets containing aciclovir, for example, may be prescribed for five days. In recurrent infection, longer-term treatment lasting 6 to 12 months may be required.

Medications

Aciclovir interrupts the DNA multiplication of the herpes viruses. It can be taken five times a day for at least five days or longer if blisters persist or more develop.

Genital herpes can also be treated with other antiviral medications such as valaciclovir or famciclovir. These drugs depend on the viral enzyme thymidine kinase, which converts the drug from its prodrug or inactive form to its monophosphate, diphosphate and finally triphosphate form. The triphosphate form binds to the viral DNA and inhibits replication.

In recurrent cases, treatment depends on the severity of symptoms. In the case of mild symptoms, the area is kept clean using ice packs and petroleum jelly to prevent secondary infections and ease pain. In people with less than six symptom outbreaks per year, a five-day course of aciclovir is prescribed. This is called episodic treatment. In people with more than six recurrent outbreaks per year, aciclovir is given twice daily over a long-term period of 6 to 12 months and this is called suppressive treatment.

Apart from oral treatment, antivirals are also available as topical or locally applied creams or lotions. For example, penciclovir cream can be used to interrupt the multiplication of the virus and although it may not improve existing blisters, it can prevent them from getting worse or lasting as long as they would have done.

An emollient called docosanol can also be used to soothe the skin in patients with oral herpes and is available over-the-counter. Tromantadine is a gel that can inhibit the entry and spread of the virus into the skin cells, through changing the glycoproteins on host cells. Zilactin acts as a protective barrier that ‘shields’ the sore, helping to prevent transmission of the virus.

Further Reading

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10 Home Remedies for Genital Herpes

Jul 11

Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by the herpes simplex virus Type I (HSV-1) and Type II (HSV-2). The Type I virus is the same one that causes cold sores on the mouth, face and lips, although it can also cause sores on the genitals. The Type II virus, however, most often causes sores on the genitals.

Herpes can spread to the genitals from a cold sore if hand washing and other hygiene precautions are not taken. Or it can be spread though oral or genital sexual contact. And be warned: The virus does not have to be in an active state — that is, blisters do not have to be present — for a partner to become infected [source: NLM].

The virus can also be passed during the preactive state, when there is itching or tingling in the area where the sores generally appear. Sometimes, the virus can be passed along before the infected person is even aware that the virus is present. What’s more, saliva also carries the virus [source: NLM].

The first episode usually starts within a couple weeks of exposure, and the initial onset can be pretty bad, including an initial round and then a second round of painful sores, flulike symptoms, fever and swollen glands. Sometimes the symptoms are mild, however, and appear as little more than insect bites or a rash.

Once you have genital herpes, you have it for life [source: NLM]. Luckily, it spends most of its life, and yours, dormant. But, like cold sores, genital herpes recurs, often up to four or five times a year. There are a few home remedies that can help you through an episode, however. Head over to the next page to learn more.

This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.

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Alternative Treatments for Genital Herpes

Jun 20

Alternative Treatments for Genital Herpes

A number of alternative (also called complementary) therapies can help you deal with outbreaks of genital herpes.

Home Care Measures for Genital Herpes

First, simple self-care may be enough to relieve most discomfort caused by genital herpes. Taking an over-the-counter pain reliever, such as aspirin, acetaminophen, or ibuprofen, can help ease the pain of herpes symptoms. Doctors sometimes recommend soaking the affected area in warm water. But the area should be kept dry most of the time. If toweling off after bathing is uncomfortable, try using a hair dryer. Then put on cotton underwear. Cotton absorbs moisture better than synthetic fabric does.

Herbs, Supplements, and More for Genital Herpes

Scientists have studied herbal extracts and nutritional supplements based on some herpes patients’ claims that they help relieve symptoms. Some study results have been promising, others discouraging.

Many people say that an extract of the echinacea plant helps boost the immune system’s ability to fight infection. Some say it decreases the frequency and severity of genital herpes outbreaks. Researchers in the U.K. compared the effect of echinacea with that of a placebo. They gave echinacea to 50 people with genital herpes for six months and a placebo for another six months. There was no significant difference in the number of herpes outbreaks during the two periods.

Another study showed that an ointment containing propolis, a waxy substance that honeybees make, may help herpes sores heal. Sores healed faster for people using the propolis ointment than in those using ointments containing the antiviral drug acyclovir or a placebo. The ointment was applied to herpes sores four times a day. After 10 days, 24 of the 30 people using propolis ointment said their sores healed, compared with 14 of the 30 people using acyclovir ointment and 12 of the 30 using a placebo.

Researchers have also found that the herb Prunella vulgaris, and an edible mushroom, Rozites caperata (the ‘gypsy mushroom’), contain chemicals that fight both HSV-1 and HSV-2.

These treatments have not been approved for treating genital herpes by the FDA. You can buy them in stores, but they are considered nutritional supplements, not drugs, so they are not subjected to the same quality standards that FDA-approved drugs are.

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LYSINE

May 22

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Do not consider WebMD User-generated content as medical advice. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified healthcare provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your care plan or treatment. WebMD understands that reading individual, real-life experiences can be a helpful resource but it is never a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a qualified health care provider. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or dial 911 immediately.

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Herpes Diet: Managing Herpes Symptoms With Fall Veggies

Apr 21

Herpes Diet: Managing Herpes Symptoms With Fall Veggies
By Contributing Author Stephanie

As those of us who have read Dr. Kelly’s Book Live, Love & Thrive with Herpes know, diet can have a huge affect on how our bodies experience the herpes virus. Whether it’s the balance between lysine and arginine in our bodies, or simply eating well to support our immunity, it is important to actively support our bodies through our diet. This is a key to managing our herpes symptoms. In this blog, I will go over some of the fall vegetables you can eat to support your body in suppressing future herpes outbreaks. I strongly suggest referring back to Dr. Kelly’s previous blog on lysine and arginine for reference, as it explains how and why lysine is helpful in preventing outbreaks and arginine can be a trigger for outbreaks.

Root vegetables and squash are common fall vegetables that are delicious and nutritious for our bodies! Most vegetables have fairly high amounts of lysine. Did you know that wheat and other grains contain high levels of arginine? This is why it is not uncommon for people diagnosed with herpes to go gluten free. If we can replace our grains (which contain high levels of arginine) with vegetables high in complex carbs, our bodies will likely thank us. Of course this is a personal choice, but if you suffer from constant outbreaks, you can always test out this method to see if it helps you!

Some fall vegetables I love that are either higher in lysine than arginine or about equal in amounts of the two according to the sources I have researched are: beets, turnips, select squashes, and potatoes (white and sweet).

A great way to get the most out of these delicious fall foods is to pair them with foods we know are very high in lysine. One amazing recipe that comes to mind is roasted beets with goat cheese. If you have never tried roasted red beets with goat cheese, I suggest you do so soon. If your recipe calls for nuts, you should omit them, since nuts are another known herpes trigger.

Another great and super easy recipe is roasted acorn squash filled with yogurt. Yogurts containing probiotics in the form of live cultures can also help boost our immunity to better manage herpes symptoms (assuming you are not dairy free). If this is the case, there are dairy free yogurts made with coconut milk. High levels of probiotics and lysine in this meal, or dessert, make it an excellent and healthy choice for the season. Since sugar affects the body in a way that prevents us from fighting off viruses, it is important to minimize our intake of sugar to prevent future outbreaks. This is one of many delicious squash recipes that can easily double as a sweet dessert.

One last recipe that incorporates fall veggies with other foods containing high amounts of lysine is this Italian fagioli soup recipe. This recipe is great for those cold and busy months and is packed with root veggies and squash. The ground turkey is a great addition, as turkey is one meat in particular that is very high amounts in lysine. You will even get some lysine from the parmesan cheese on top! I urge you all to take a look at some of the different recipes you can try to incorporate some of the seasonal vegetables into your diet throughout these colder months.

Keeping veggies in our diet consistently is so important for our health, regardless of living with herpes or not; but of course if we can decrease our herpes symptoms at the same time, why wouldn’t we do it? Make sure to check out Dr. Kelly’s book to learn more about how diet and supplements can support your body as you learn to navigate your herpes symptoms!

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What Is the Best Treatment for Oral Herpes?

Feb 03

It’s estimated there are 100 million episodes of oral herpes annually, so imagine the money we spend on herpes medications. Much of what I’m going to tell you will surprise you. Many patients with herpes lesions of their lips and mouth use topical creams or ointments to treat their sores. Turns out, they don’t work so well and they cost a lot. There is a lot going on here that you need to know.

What about topical herpes treatments?

Topical creams and ointments like () and (penciclovir) are available and have been studied for oral herpes (herpes labialis). Turns out they don’t work so well, are really expensive and usually require frequent daily applications.

Now, there is a new topical medication for oral herpes that was just approved which may hold more promise, at a cost I’m sure. is different and comes in a tablet you place on the gum which delivers a high concentration of acyclovir directly to the lip, the site of the cold sore infection. Sitavig used just once lessened healing time compared to doing nothing. The reason this is exciting is that previous studies show that antiviral creams and ointments are of moderate benefit at best. This is true for topical acyclovir, Denavir, and the over the counter medication Abreva.

So, what are you telling me?

Antiviral pills are your best choice for the treatment of oral herpes. They are more reasonably priced and work better. Antiviral therapy with acyclovir, famciclovir (), or valacyclovir () hastens the healing of lesions if treatment is initiated in the early stage. No studies compare the three, so think about which one is easier to take and at the best price.

Evidence shows that starting antiviral therapy with one of these three medications at the very start of a herpes outbreak on your mouth is your best chance to relieve pain and shorten the outbreak:

* Acyclovir (200 or 400 mg five times daily for five days)

* Famciclovir (750 mg twice daily for one day or 1500 mg as a single dose)

* Valacyclovir (2 g twice daily for one day)

Single-day dosing with either famciclovir or valacyclovir is more convenient, and may have an overall lower cost compared to five days of acyclovir.

Cleared up?

Dr O.

Depending on the dose, 25 pills of acyclovir (available as a capsule or a tablet) typically cost about $12 – $20, though some pharmacy generic discount programs have it available for less. Famciclovir runs about $20 and under for the 1500 mg dose (three 500 mg tablets), and from $20 – $25 for the 750 mg doses (two sets of one 500 mg tablet and one 250 mg tablet). Valacylovir may be the best combination of price and convenience in some cases, at around $15 at some pharmacies for the four 1 g tablets required for a full course.
All are typically considered Tier 1 prescriptions by insurance, meaning you’ll pay only your lowest copay.

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