Archive for the ‘Herpes’ Category

Herpes and the Vegan Diet (update)

Monday, March 16th, 2009

Here is a response I got to the Herpes and the Vegan Diet post that I thought I’d share with everyone:

I have been veg for 24 years and vegan for 20. I have also had Herpes Simplex 1 for (approx) 22 years. I remember reading about it and discovering the same information your questioner found, eat foods high in lysine and low in arginine. This was very discouraging to my new love of veganism, but I was determined to not eat animal products – even if it compromised my health.

So when I had an outbreak, I bought vegetarian L-Lysine pills. It did the trick. I definitely healed much faster than when I didn’t take them, but I didn’t like supplementing. It was expensive and I hate taking pills. So I paid attention to what made an outbreak worse or better or come at all.

What I found was that stress was a huge factor. If I got some rest, slowed down, and focused on the positive, this was the best healing plan. Food was a factor as well, but it really had to do with how junky and processed the food was, not necessarily the lysine content. I did find higher lysine plant foods, but what really made the difference was to stop eating junk and eat whole grains, fruits and veggies in a more natural state, not highly processed, no added sugar/salt etc.

I tried both independently – high lysine foods vs. just cleaning my diet and eating super healthy for a few days and the latter worked the best. So I stopped supplementing and thinking about the lysine all together and focused on living and eating healthy. My outbreaks became fewer and fewer and now I haven’t had one in about 7 years.

Twenty years ago I thought my contracting Herpes was a curse, but now I look at it as a blessing that encouraged me to learn to eat and live healthy. I’m now a vibrant vegan of 40 (had my blood work run recently and everything is great) and I’ve never supplemented with anything else.

Herpes and the Vegan Diet

Saturday, March 14th, 2009

Edited question:

I was diagnosed with herpes a few months ago and every herpes web site I go to says to eat foods high in lysine and low in arginine, both amino acids. I take lysine supplements but you would not believe what foods are high in lysine which discourages outbreaks (meats, cheese, milk, fish) and high in arginine which encourages outbreaks (nuts, sesame seeds, oatmeal, whole wheat, coconut, bran, grits, fruits, and many vegetables). It seems that most everything a vegan survives on is taboo when you are trying to avoid an outbreak or minimize the healing time. I don’t want to compromise my beliefs but I am slowly dwindling away.

I do not have any experience working with people who have herpes, and there wasn’t much nutrition information from websites that I consider particularly reliable.

You can look up the lysine and arginine content of any foods at my diet analysis website,

Here is a website that compiled some of the USDA data into a chart showing the lysine to arginine ratio.

It might not be a bad idea to supplement with L-lysine at about 1,000 to 3,000 mg per day, but I would suggest talking to a physician before doing so. Below, I list four studies that showed mixed results in lysine supplementation. Two studies showed a benefit, one study showed a benefit among some people, and one study did not show a benefit. I could not find any clinical trials using a diet low in arginine.

Here is a discussion of a vegan diet and herpes simplex on the website Vegans Represent which might be of some interest, though I cannot vouch for any of the information there.

I hope to eventually find time to try to put together a vegan meal plan low in arginine and high in lysine. I would make that available on

Abstracts of Studies using L-lysine to Prevent or Treat Herpes.

1. Milman N, Scheibel J, Jessen O. Lysine prophylaxis in recurrent herpes simplex labialis: a double-blind, controlled crossover study. Acta Derm Venereol. 1980;60(1):85-7.

Some patients had less recurrence on 1,000 mg per day of L-lysine.

2. McCune MA, Perry HO, Muller SA, O’Fallon WM. Treatment of recurrent herpes simplex infections with L-lysine monohydrochloride. Cutis. 1984 Oct;34(4):366-73.

1,2489 mg of L-lysine per day decreased recurrence rates. 624 mg per day was not effective.

3. DiGiovanna JJ, Blank H. Failure of lysine in frequently recurrent herpes simplex infection. Treatment and prophylaxis. Arch Dermatol. 1984 Jan;120(1):48-51.

400 mg of lysine, three times a day (1200 mg/day total) didn’t reduce frequency of recurrent infections. Abstract didn’t say for how long.

4. Griffith RS, Walsh DE, Myrmel KH, Thompson RW, Behforooz A. Success of L-lysine therapy in frequently recurrent herpes simplex infection. Treatment and prophylaxis. Dermatologica. 1987;175(4):183-90.

1,000 mg of L-lyisine three times a day (3,000 mg per day) for six months resulted in less infections and symptoms.