Herpes and the Vegan Diet

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, PeaCounter.com.

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 VeganHealth.org.

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.

59 Responses to “Herpes and the Vegan Diet”

  1. michael Says:

    i am recently vegan, maybe 3 months now, and have had so many more breakouts of my simplex on my lips than ever before. prior i would get 1, maybe 2 a year when rundown etc. sometimes in june in particular, not sure why. now i have had back to back breakouts for the past 3 weeks and had another a month and a half ago. i am taking lysine but not every day and don’t know how much to take daily. i eat a lot of nuts, coconut milk, almond milk, chocolate etc. so maybe i’m just going to have to live with the outbreaks. trying ionic zinc as wll as i read that it may help with the virus.

  2. Paula Says:

    I had been vegetarian almost a decade before going vegan. I never had a herpes outbreak until I went vegan. Had a couple when I was vegan, the last one I had lasted a month & it wouldnt go away. Left a scar on my lip & then I decided to give up veganism. I havent had a problem since.

  3. Brother Says:

    I feel you friend. It’s really really inconvenient. My stable of rice, beans and nuts are out of the question when I have an outbreak. In addition to the “okay” foods that you posted, potatoes and beets have pretty good ratios and are very substantial and filling. Stay strong.

  4. Veganguy Says:

    has anyone ever tried the lysine supplements and got benifts from it?

  5. elloh Says:

    Lysine definitely helps me, even in preventing breakouts. I take about 3,000 mgs as soon as I feel a tingle. Water is also important, as is monitoring how acidic your diet is (acidifying foods make the body a more conducive host to viruses). Research acidifying versus alkalizing foods; you may be surprised – lemons are alkalizing and grapefruits are acidifying…go figure.
    I was vegan for a year and then contracted oral herpes, and the vegan diet was not helping. I was having back to back outbreaks, so reluctantly went back to animal proteins and haven’t had an outbreak since. I feel really disgusted by this, and am desperate to find a way to be healthy and moral and happy again. Searching the web. Anybody have any solutions???

  6. michael Says:

    it is manageable. since my post in july last year i have had one cold sore on my lips. a small one on my upper lip. i realized i needed b complex, and a full complement of aminos more often. so i’m vegan and see less breakouts now than in the past, when i wasn’t vegan. having lysine on hand is a good idea though. i took several thousand milligrams often and this breakout was very short and painless.

  7. crystal Says:

    I have found that high doses of vitamin C along with Lysine is the next best thing to a cure-less disease. Check online to see what the proper dosage to use.

  8. Lupin Says:

    I also had a little panik attack when I found out that being a vegan did increase my herpes outbreaks. I had been a vegan for three months when I found out that. I bought lysine and experimented a few strategies to solve this problem. Here is what works for me ( I’m back to about one outbreak/year):
    – First I completely stopped eating peanuts. If I happen to eat peanuts on a very rare instance I also take a 1000mg lysine pill the same day. But I stopped eating peanut butter and replaced it with whole almonds butter. And I found out that almond skins can prevent herpes outbreaks.
    – When I am stressed or tired I avoid eating chocolate and nuts and i supplement with lysine
    – If I feel that something is bothering me I immediately take a lysine supplement and apply Novitra. This cream is on my opinion the very best on the market.

    Thanks to these tree strategies I am back to normal and so far I did not experience more than one outbreak a year, however when I was on peanut butter it was more like 4 outbreaks a year. If this is not enough for people with an history of recurring herpes I would advise to see a doctor and take preventive pills that are also given to omnivores with the same problem.

  9. Jim Says:

    Peanuts will give me an outbreak for sure, as will lack of sleep, stress, wine, too much sunshine, orange juice, grapefruit juice, etc. A real bummer. Taking two Acyclovir 200MG capsules daily, which I’ve done since 2000, will control outbreaks for sure. I’ve tried to wean myself off this drug several times during the past 13 years without success. Stop or forget to take the pills and outbreaks come back.

  10. Mae Says:

    I’ve had HSV,HPV for over 20 yrs. A few things do help.
    YES: calcium-magnesium-zinc from vitamin Shoppe,
    L-lysine powder disolved in tomato juice (tastes aweful anyother way),
    HIGH QUALITY VEGAN PROBIOTICS—taken daily DOES HELP !! may cost $30 a bottle but truly worth it..
    Vitamin D
    Echinecea, Olive leaf extract and any natural anti-viral stuff,

    NO: sweets, chocolate, nuts, non-whole foods…

  11. maria Says:

    I found a diet high in lysine works beautifully. No outbreaks. One, however, has to be familiar with the lysine and arginine content of all foods. If I ate 6 oatmeal cookies in one sitting, I would have an outbreak the next day!! Now ifI by chance I eat some foods higher in arginine, I take a lysine supplement to off set the arginine
    It works incredibly well!!!!

  12. Angela Says:

    I was very discouraged when I found out that I had herpes. I remember finally feeling better about it and deciding that I just needed to change my diet. I looked up that day on lysine and arginine and immediately wanted to cry. Almost every vegetable was higher in arginine than lysine. Take l-lysine supplements, vita c and b-complex. Also probiotics help a lot with your immune system and will help suppress the virus.

  13. elloh Says:

    It’s been two and a half years since I originally posted here, and I wanted to encourage anybody who is vegan with herpes. A couple of things I have done have all but stopped my outbreaks. I may have an outbreak every a couple times a year now, whereas I was having them monthly before. Here is what I’ve learned:

    Yes, a lot of the healthier, vegan foods are higher in arganine than lysine, but in such small amounts that they’re nearly negligible. For example, many veggies have higher arginine, but their anti-inflammatory properties and vitamin density far outweigh a miligram or two or arginine. Eat healthfully*

    Relax. This is so huge. If I feel myself getting angry or upset for a few days in a row, I’ll get an outbreak. You really have to listen to your body. If you’re upset or stressed or in a sleep deficit, your immune system becomes compromised. Take some time out, find out what’s bothering you, and calm yourself, noting that this kind of sustained stress WILL result in an outbreak.

    For this reason, I have to be careful around my period. Not only will I get stressed/angry/cranky, but I’ll crave all the worst foods (in terms of high-arginine outbreak triggers), like peanuts and chocolate and popcorn, and sabatoge myself.

    The biggest thing I’ve learned is to stop stressing about the outbreaks themselves and what other people will think. The more you stress, the worse it gets, and the longer it lasts. I decided to just come clean out with it to everybody in my life so that I don’t have to worry about trying to hide it or back out of plans, etc. It’s a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. It doesn’t bother me nearly as much any more, with the added benefit of resulting in less outbreaks.

    * Overall, I’ve learned that the most important thing is to drink a TON of water all the time, and eat healthfully, regardless of arginine/lysine ratios. The only exceptions are those that are REALLy high in arginine and aren’t really healthy anyway: stay away from coffee, chocolate, popcorn, oats, and nuts (especially peanuts) as much as you can, and avoid them completely when you’re stressed or feel an outbreak coming on.

    When I feel an outbreak coming, I run to the sink and drink a quart of water immediately. This is so important. Then I pop about 6000mg of lysine, and 4000 more every couple hours or so with more water. Foods that are safe or helpful to eat: apples, potatoes, margarine, avocado, and pretty much any fruits and vegetables. That’s pretty much all I’ll eat for a few days.

    Another thing that helps it to pop the blister as soon as possible with a sterile needle and get ALL the fluid out, soak the open sore with rubbing alcohol (it burns, but it dries it out really well), repeat throughout the day, and KEEP IT DRY. I mean, don’t even get in a steamy bathroom if you can help it. The dryer it is, the quicker it heals. I’ve been able to keep mine down to three days or less.

    And that’s it. It’s worked really for me. In the last year, I think I’ve had four breakouts, but they weren’t visible to anyone. Mostly, I could just feel them. This is a huge improvement.

    I hope this helps somebody. Good luck, everybody!

  14. debbie Says:

    I just recently decided to go vegan–have been a vegetarian for about 3 years. The past year it seems I have outbreaks back to back. I didn’t even think it could be because of my diet–technically I am eating healthier. I don’t want to give up my compassionate diet, but I don’t know what to do. I am already taking 1 gram of valtrex daily–started this about 6 months ago. I went 30 years without feeling the need to do this. only this past year does it seem to be constant–it never goes away! one sore heals, another one pops up. I don’t eat nuts really–once in a while some pine nuts. Not a lot of coffee either. So, what can I eat? I am at a loss for breakfast anymore? where can I get enough protein?? I couldn’t even find ratios on line for almond or hemp milk. I take probiotics and lysine as well. I also take a daily, c, zinc, and d3. I just feel like giving up.

  15. be Says:

    Coconut water broke the cycle for me. I would get cold sores every now and then growing up, but suddenly I had outbreaks every month for 6-7 months after relocating here. My acupuncturist recommended coconut water, not to be confused with coconut milk.

    Coconut water has 5 electrolytes and provides instant hydration! COOLS THE BODY. Also load up on Yogurt, Keifer, & Cheese.

    Zinc lozenges strengthen immunity to fight the virus. RED MARINE ALGAE (RMA) works magic (in ointment & capsules). I supplement lysine only when eating foods high in arginine, but have found that taking a ton of Red Marine Algae works much better in both prevention and healing.

    All the best ! Just think, it’s only temporary. Thankfully, it goes away.

  16. Hopeless Says:

    I got the horrible news a year and a half ago that I had contracted hsv. The second worst news after that was all the foods I love to eat actually feed the virus. I have been a vegetarian for ten years and I have been slowly moving toward becoming completely vegan. Ever since I got the virus, my outbreaks are back to back. I get one almost every 2 weeks since i got the virus and they take 7-10 days to clear even though i’m on antivirals. It has been the hardest 18 months of my life. I feel there’s nothing out there to help. I take 1 gram of valtrex a day, 1500mg of lysine a day, 1000mg of Vitmain C, a B complex, a seperate B-12 with 1000mcg, and a calcium, magnesium and zinc combo. I got a shingles virus shot as well because its rumored to help with stopping outbreaks but no luck for me. I also have been trying to eat at least 2 tablespoons of coconut oil a day but it’s difficult to take. Anyone have any suggestions on how to take it? I tried it straight and couldn’t do it. I’ve been heating up apple juice and mixing it in and chugging it and try my best not to gag. I have given up nuts, chocolate, and oats. Except for a little bit of oats that’s in my cereal or breakfast bar. I also use almond milk. I’m trying to find ratios of lysine/arginine for that and other milk alternatives. I was thinking about trying quinoa milk, hemp milk, or flax milk; hoping they might be better than the almond milk for hsv. Anyone know about this? I see a herpes specialist and he swears the arginine/lysine ratio is BS, but how can it not be true?

    I miss having oatmeal for breakfast, almonds for my snacks, peanut butter, and chocolate. If anyone can give any suggestions about any of this, I’d greatly appreciate it. I feel like my life has been taken away from me.

  17. Hopeless Says:

    Also has anyone had positive effects from taking olive leaf supplements?

  18. HSC Says:

    I’m not vegan but found this thread while researching the lysine/arginine content of coconut oil vs coconut milk. I put coconut milk in my coffee every morning and am now wondering if that is what’s perpetuating my outbreaks. I have seen marked improvement by cutting out nuts & alcohol, and I take 3000mg of L-lysine daily – more during an outbreak. I just wanted to share some other information I found, as I haven’t seen it mentioned in the thread yet, and they are vegan friendly options. In the Encyclopedia of Healing Foods, licorice root tea is mentioned as inhibiting the growth & cell-damaging effects of the HSV and is recommended for individuals prone to recurrent infections. Another thing it mentions is a bitter melon extract called MAP 30, which has powerful antiviral properties. Lauric acid is also mentioned, as well as capsaicin-containing topical creams (derived from cayenne & paprika). I can only vouch for the lysine as I have not tried these other things, but I plan on trying the licorice root tea and cutting down on coconut milk & coffee for starters. Best of luck to everyone, I know how debilitating this virus can be. I second others’ thoughts on keeping calm and trying to reduce stress & panic. It really does make it worse. Maybe yoga/meditation/easy exercise can help.

  19. Jack Norris RD Says:

    Regarding licorice root tea, pregnant women should probably avoid it:


  20. KCee Says:

    If you are bummed out because you cannot eat nuts any longer, try cashews. Cashews are not nuts. They are actually in the same family as the mango. It is actually a dry fruit. It does not come in a hard shell like nuts. I have hsv and eat cashews all the time. Every day without worrying about arginine/lysine intake. Also, I had to find a seed to replace sesame seeds…I loooove sesame seeds. I found HEMP seeds. Hemp seeds are very good for you and offer the same amino acids as other healthful nuts without the side effects of outbreaks. Lastly, I too loved oatmeal and was saddened about the idea of not being able to consume them. But I found Quinoa. Quinoa is excellent for you. It can be eaten hot or cold. I have with with scrambled egg and lots of garlic, onions, and black pepper. Don’t focus on what you can’t have. Just find something to replace it! Be encouraged!

  21. Eel Says:

    I have found out that olive leaf extract really helps both preventing and healing cold sores. Also recently founf out that pomegranate powder and food based vitamin C (camu camu especially, rose hips and acerola) and coconut oil are essentials. I also eat ton of mung bean sprouts and avocado. After starting to eat camu camu last year I haven’t had any sores. I take higher doses when I drink alcohol. Tried supplementing lysine, but it just made it worse. I do take calcium, mag and zinc. Couple of times I forgot to take it I got a sore and I got them much more often than I did without it althought I regiliously took it every day. Also it big doses gave me tummy ache. Foods that trigger me are all grains except amaranth, white rice, red wine, non organic tomatoes, capsicums, grapes, cacao = chololate, nuts and legumes except mung beans coconut milk/cream is great but not coconut flour, shredded. My daily diet is paleo, but I don’t eat eggs and red meat.

  22. BuddyBenerba Says:

    Hey everyone… The person named elloh who posted above is spot on. I got really tired of taking valtrex and lysine daily so I stopped. When I feel it coming on I blast it with 2000mg Lysine, Valtrex, Dmso on the sore and in the back of the neck and boom! Powerful cocktail. You don’t need to keep taking the pills daily since the virus is dormant until it’s not. Taking pills daily only protects you at the moment the outbreak occurs. But if out out only have 12 outbreaks a year, you are pumping your body full of pills for 353 wasted days.

    Eating healthy is obviously the best. I have cut out shellfish and nuts. Major improvement. I’m also cutting out red meats, and meat in general and feel great. I’m down to 1 or 2 outbreaks a year and it’s usually when my immune system is weak or I’m eating poorly. Everything has a silver lining, I look at HSV as an opportunity to eat better and take care of myself at a higher level. With that said, I’ll still look for opportunities to get rid of the virus. Viruses operate at a certain frequency – I will figure out how to eliminate it one day.

  23. KSainT Says:

    High doses of vitamin C and D daily (7 thousand to 14 thousand milligrams), Coconut oil, a miracle treatment for many things including herpes,one tablespoon a day and I cook with it and I use it as a mouth wash and I use on my body–especially a preventive during sex. Olive leaf extract, one tablespoon a day. When I feel tingling from one of the three herpes viruses that I have (including shingles which we almost all develop eventually) I take three tablespoons of elderberry extract and the tingling goes away in less than an hour. If I have sores, I put coconut oil on them–gone in much much less time do to the miracle of lauric acid. I am a vegan, I eat nuts and peanut butter almost every day–especially peanut butter because it is good for me as a man . I cannot remember the last outbreak.

  24. KSainT Says:

    I also consume nutritional yeast (regularly on popcorn), tofu and soy products, as well as a variety of beans, all supposedly high in lysine. But I also take and use flaxseed oil. I have not had a problem.

  25. KSainT Says:

    Also, I cannot understand someone going back to meat because of this. Dairy (which I don’t care to have because of the casein) is very rich in lysine (high in ratio to arginine). Even if I did not take the high doses of D (5 to 10 grams a day) and C (7 to 14 grams a day), and the olive leaf extract, I think I would be okay with the balance of fruits, tofu, nutritional yeast, and the use of coconut oil. I cannot go back to meat because I have gout. I feel so much better eating a vegan diet.

  26. KSainT Says:

    Here is link to the list of Lysine to Arginine ratios for beans (which every vegan should be eating anyway). Almost all beans are higher in Lysine than Arginine.


    It’s easy. Add the tofu, nutritional yeast (a complete amino acid BTW), coconut oil, and the right beans to your diet (which is almost all). You will achieve Lysine-Arginine balance and be anti-viral without too much worry (not good for herpes sufferers anyway).

  27. Robert Says:

    Hi I had herpes blisters on my lips twice a year for 30 years.

    I was not really bothered two much about it except no kissing or sex for 2 weeks.
    When I started eating a diet almost vegetarian with lots of beans, lentils
    and yes even peanuts ( but don’t eat them) and very little fish and even less meat and chicken my herpes outbreaks stopped completely.
    So legumes, veg, fruit, and a bit of carbs and then on weekends fish or meat in order to not be deficient. I ate a diet with as little as methionine as possible.
    Methionine is found in meats, eggs, fish, nuts.

    So in 5 years I only had 1 outbreak of herpes on my lips . This happened after I ate chocolate with almonds in and I was not low on methionine at the time because I could not find the food where I was. I was drinking beers for a few days and got a bad flu the same time.

    Sometimes when I ate nuts I felt a tingle after eating meats ,but revert back to lentils , veg. fruit immediately and never had a single blister.

    I was not aware of arginine lysine ratios except to avoid almonds.

    So just a thought: For years I was eating low methionine instead of low arginine and avoided herpes completely even if it was not my goal. I also used to get flus and colds 3-5 times a year with having to lie in bed for at least 1 of them. Now I got 1-2 mild colds a year ( each time after breaking my low methionine diet for too many days in a row) . So for me the low methionine diet stops viruses in their tracks.

    I think the infected cells require methionine to produce the viruses and so if they are low on methionine they produce much less.

    The foods really high in arginine like peanuts, chickpeas, almonds and most nuts should probably be avoided also when having any form of herpes.

  28. Jillene Says:

    Everybody, if you look at the charts, you will see that SOME beans (not soybeans and not lentils) have more lysine than arginine. There is where you need to focus to get your protein. Leave the nuts out of your life. For good! 🙁 They are the HIGHEST in arginine as we know.

    But check out the beans ratios again and do not abandon these humble power suppliers.

    Besides herpes simplex, I am fighting another type of herpes – THE EPSTEIN BARR virus which can lead to chronic fatigue syndrome. After over twenty years of feeling pretty terrible, I finally am starting to get moving again and feeling close to “normal” after dropping nuts totally from my diet and adding Lysine supplements (and dropping sugar). I do have to say that I am not vegetarian or vegan anymore, but depend many days on beans to power me up.

    Don’t worry about the scant traces of arginine in green vegetables, you need to eat them!

    Good Luck and happy healthy to all.


  29. Fiona Says:

    WATER, WATER, WATER. Since I started drinking water all day, every day, I have reduced my outbreaks dramatically. I used to have an outbreak once per month with the exception of summer months, but in the past three years I have had on average two per year, and they have been so small and unnoticeable I was barely concerned. I also have more energy due to the water, an added bonus!

    Around the same time I started drinking a lot of water I also invested in a juicer which I use to make veggie juice at least one time per week. I used to eat almost NO veggies before getting the juicer and had a lot more outbreaks on the little- to -no- veggie-diet.

    I noticed the pattern of more breakouts 3-5 days before I start my period so usually the week before it starts I avoid chocolate and increase the juices and veggies in my smoothies. This has worked. Outbreaks have been reduced.

    Elderberry syrup is supposed to reduce outbreaks and I have been drinking a teaspoon of that daily, for the past year as well. It is a great immune system booster and also comes in mixtures with the herb ‘Melissa’, another herb that is supposed to fight herpes outbreaks. It is a great health boosting tonic for the winter time.

    Oddly, a few months ago I started eating almond butter nearly every day due to reducing animal products and so far have not had any outbreaks. I was afraid to eat them for years, but I slowly started, and so far so good. We will see what happens!

  30. Michelle Says:

    Ive been vegan for 7 years. My outbreaks are so rare that I almost have a break down every-time I get one because I think “Holy crap! WHO gave me this just now!?”.
    But then I remember, about every other year I have an outbreak.

    Anywho, I just wanted to put my two cents in there to help support those who dont want to give up being vegan because they think it will increase outbreaks. When your body is adjusting to a new diet it will have many changes (too gassy from beans? Weird poops?) so give it time and try to find a nice balance with your diet before admitting defeat!

  31. Ross Says:

    I’m helping my dad who is also newly vegan and I’m more confused by the answers here than I was before I read it. I have no idea what to think to help.
    His lysine and Valtrex aren’t helping the more frequent mouth blisters but he has been drinking almond and coconut milk. I am lost, now.

  32. Buddy Benerba Says:

    @Ross… well obviously if someone is drinking almond milk or any foods high in arginine then more frequent outbreaks are likely to occur. Try hemp milk or rice milk and stay away from nuts. Find a lysine to arginine ration food chart and you’ll be good to go.

  33. schleary Says:

    you may want to tell him to ditch the coconut milk. While coconut may have positive properties, it has an acidifying and inflammatory effect on the body, which can absolutely lead to outbreaks.

    Aside from avoiding known triggers like coconut, coffee, alcohol, oats, popcorn, peanut butter, etc. and taking lysine, he’ll want to make sure he drinks a LOT of water, gets all of his micronutrients, especially zinc and vitamin c, and that he gets 8 hours of sleep a night and manages his stress.

    I haven’t had an outbreak in 9 months. The most significant thing I did to stop my twice-monthly breakouts was to really pay attention to my stress. Any time I got upset or angry or worried, I’d get a breakout, and the stress of a breakout was often leading to more breakouts. Terrible cycle.

    Realizing how large a factor stress was helped me not only monitor and control my outbreaks, but it makde me a clamer, happier person.

  34. Troy Says:

    I take L-lysine daily and it does works when I slack up I get a outbreak within 15- 30 days.You must take L-lysine daily for it to work properly take 1000 – 3000 mg daily 9000 mg when having an outbreak .

  35. Buddy Benerba Says:

    L-lysine is a good supplement but 1-3000 a day? I can’t do that many pills. Just eat foods higher in lysine and it’s just as nutritious. Days that I have not eaten a good lysine amount through my foods are the days that I will take a supplement or two.

  36. Dale Says:

    The amount of you who are having coconut oil and thinking that peanuts are not ok but almonds are, is ridiculous! You should check your lysine/arginine ratios online. Almonds, like ANY nuts are THE worse things for herpes, they have the highest arginine levels (and by far). If you want outbreaks to dwindle you must cut out nuts (any nuts), coconut and oats, grans and wheat.

  37. BuddyBenerba Says:

    @Dale.. I’m not sure I see who is saying that almonds are good for preventing outbreaks. You are correct in that almost every nut has a very high ratio of arginine to lysine. However, in the case of coconut oil specifically there is no arginine (or any amino acid) since it is a fatty oil. Amino acids are found in proteins, not fats. So there is no arginine in coconut oil, and along with all it’s healing properties, that is why people use it as a super-effective tool in preventing outbreaks. The coconut itself that you chew and eat contains amino acids has a high arginine to lysine ratio – so you should stay away from eating coconuts; but feel free to use coconut oil as a great remedy for not only herpes but toward overall health.

  38. almetris-duren Says:

    The comments here have been extremely helpful, thank you everyone so much, and thank you Elloh @ 11.37pm, especially. Being vegan is so important to me, and I’m really grateful for this site and the advice in these comments. I was wondering if anyone here with herpes could recommend a book or resource that takes a more philosophical approach to living with herpes. The vegan nutritional info and recommendations here are extremely helpful, and I’m looking as well for a model of empowerment from someone who has herpes, a model for staying strong, and how to speak to a potential partner.

  39. Sarah Says:

    I am vegetarian, and try to avoid dairy as well. I couple years ago, I tried eliminating all nuts, oatmeal, etc. to minimize my frequent cold sores. It was pretty tortuous as I basically lived on almond milk, oatmeal, chocolate, and peanut butter. Since then, I have discovered that it’s really just peanuts that trigger my outbreaks. I would definitely recommend an elimination diet. I know it’s not consistent with what the experts say, but I now eat muesli with almond milk every morning, and the only time I ever get a cold sore is when I cheat and eat a peanut butter cup!

  40. HELEN Says:

    Hello Gina,how are you doing? i have a question for you,do your partner also have the virus? do get back to me as soon as possible okay

  41. Edith Says:

    I’ve been vegan for two years and the only thing I can say is that I had LESS of a problem with cold sores on the vegan diet.
    When I ate meat I had far more cold sore breakouts.
    And the few times I get them the cold sores end up going away faster.
    L-Lysine can be healthy but I recommend moderation in using this supplement.

  42. Awix Says:

    I was having a really tough time with cold sores. Like a every two week turnover. I finally figured out that is was due to drinking almond milk. Ever since I stopped, they have completely gone away. Which sucks, because I love almond milk. But that’s just how it goes some times. I’ve since switched to rice milk. Hope this helps!

  43. BuddyBenerba Says:

    @Awix of course almond milk will trigger an outbreak! You need to find the lysine-arginine food ratio chart on the internet and make sure your diet includes more lysine in it than arginine. Rice milk is fine but try hemp milk if you want. It’s usually made with better ingredients than the rice milk and is overall more healthy to drink. Cheers!

  44. bob white Says:

    I found if I have thing in moderation and not over load on things I am fine , But I learned the hard way a week of Oatmeal and Peanut Butter took it’s toll , I have since learned just have sparingly with a lysine supplement and I’m good .

    I have from the start made sure I have a wide varied diet and not eating the same things except for the high lysine foods which i try to rotate helps I found this here http://jacknorrisrd.com/herpes-and-the-vegan-diet-update/

    List of foods with a better lysine/arginine ratio, from the top to the bottom>
    Apricot, dried
    Fig, dried
    Soybean sprouts
    Squash, summer
    Peach, dried
    Green beans
    Lentil sprouts
    Lettuce, romaine
    Lettuce, iceberg
    Cabbage, chinese
    Sweet potato
    Turnip greens
    Oat flakes
    Beet greens

  45. geo Says:

    Are you talking about HSV-1 or HSV-2 type herpes? I caught herpes on my lips back when I was in high school and the virus has been dormant for 5 years until recently I got a herpes sore on my lip again, I used 1-2 grams of arginine powder daily as a supplement 4 months ago but I didn’t get any herpes symptoms back then. I’ve been formulating an ointment that passes arginine directly into the bloodstream lately, I did test it on myself taking 1mg of arginine transdermally (or 0.001% of what I used to take orally) and what do you know after 4 days I got herpes again although it may just be a coincidence.
    Has anyone had herpes spread to other parts of his body because I can live with herpes on my lip but if it goes to the eye or body it’s a whole other story then.

  46. geo Says:

    Some studies I’ve read suggest that the lysine/arginine ratio isn’t correct and only applies when the sore has already appeared, do you find correlations with the lysine/arginine ratio of your diet and your herpes outbreaks? I’ve never controlled this ratio and I only got herpes outbreaks scarcely when my immune system was compromized and with exposure of the infected areas to cold so what’s the culprit for these outbreaks?

  47. SFIII Says:

    I’m vegetarian so I have noticed a similar dilemma. To further complicate the discussion, many health-oriented websites sing the praises of an alkaline diet and the dangers of an acidic diet (because an acidic body is a better host for viruses, tumors, other diseases). Guess what makes the body most acidic? Meat and dairy. Soooooo on one site you are supposed to eat lots of meat to keep your lysine up, and on another site you are supposed to eat very little meat and dairy to discourage the flourishing of viruses. This leaves me in the middle; very confused. The only thing I know, is that drugs (like coffee, chocolate, and, to a lesser extent, alcohol) seem to trigger outbreaks and very significantly, feelings of alarm or stress will trigger outbreaks regardless of what I eat. Seems to have a lot to do with adrenalin, which, of course, acts directly on the nervous system, where the herpes lives.

  48. Jack Norris RD Says:


    > because an acidic body is a better host for viruses, tumors, other diseases

    That’s just a scam that’s been going around for the past 5 years or so. That said, you hopefully don’t need to eat lots of meat to keep your herpes from breaking out. I don’t have anything to add to what’s already been posted here, however–it seems that people have quite a wide array of experiences with various foods and outbreaks.

  49. Bettie Says:

    Here is an ex-vegetarian writer who had issues with her high-arginine diet. She – bless her – does not tell you to stop being vegetarian. This entire page is worth reading for anyone with issues caused by too much arginine relative to lysine. A relative of mine had (has?) shingles.


    “Roots like potatoes, sweet potatoes, beets, and turnips, which are an important part of traditional diets around the world, are all higher in lysine than arginine. In addition, beets, as well as cherries, help rid the kidneys of excess arginine.5 Beets also supply betaine, which helps to replenish the methyl groups that excess arginine depletes. Regarding betaine, quinoa and wheat germ are the top sources, and so are helpful in recovering from a high arginine diet.”

  50. Pam Says:

    Smearing red hot chili pepper on your lip when you feel a tingle will suppress and perhaps kill herpes. I wouldn’t try it when you have a cold sore though since it stings for a long time.

  51. elloh Says:

    Hi everybody, I just wanted to share that I FINALLY found a viable protein powder for my (our) unique needs. It’s vegan, soy-free, made only of pea and rice protein with B-12, and has amazing ratios of arginine vs. lysine (1,000mg vs 1,800mg)! I blend it with frozen fruit and kale, and it’s yummy! I start the day with it, and so far, no outbreaks.


  52. NoNuts Says:

    With a low protein diet, I had one outbreak in 4 years after giving up nuts and taking a Lysine supplement every few hours at the first sign of an outbreak. I am considering adding Yogurt back into my diet as it is high protein and may consider a protein supplement — most are whey and casein based which are milk based. The poster above suggested ProMix but it looks like you need to eat a lot of it to get 23 grams of protein so it could be expensive.

  53. Garfield Says:

    @NoNuts, I am no expert but when you look at the lysine to arginine ratios Yogurts virtually has the highest lysine of all foods, that I something I am switching to from now on instead of oatmeal.

    Also I read another place that Whey protein powders also has a 1.5 ratio, so I don’t understand why some say to prevent protein supplements!?

    OMG, I got herpes 10 years ago and for the last 3 years I started eating only oatmeal mixed with peanut butter and protein powder every morning because I started strength training, that I can say triggered 30-40% more outbreaks in me. It’s just now I’m discovering this lysine/arginine ratio.

  54. elloh Says:

    @Garfield, this page is for people with herpes on the VEGAN diet. Yogurt and whey are not vegan. They are animal products.

  55. Jackie Says:

    Hi, I have been vegan for many years, previously vegetarian for 25 years. I’ve suffered from cold sores on my lips, nose and cheeks for 30 years. I used to get attacks almost continuously, every week it seemed, but life was more stressful then and I also needed to amend my diet. Since taking 2000mg of l-Lysine daily, my outbreaks have very much diminished. I have to be careful of over doing it though with certain foods high in arginine, so keep a check on this. The Lysine has definitely helped and do take it continuously, to keep your vegan diet balanced. I also find that the common cold brings on cold sores, but this could be the stress of feeling ill too. I am much better now, but when I do get any sores, I do burst them and dry them out with face cleansing solution. It burns slightly, but dries out the sores very well and they are gone within a few days. Hope this information can help others..

  56. margie Says:

    The answer I’ve found is knowing the ratios between lysine and arginine in the vegan foods I eat. So if I want garbanzos or peanut butter or other high arginine foods I usually add a high lysine legume to that meal to balance my intake of arginine. It works amazingly well. If I feel a tingle on my lip, I just eat a little more high lysine legume to the next meal and the tingling disappears. This is a huge benefit in my life since I have been plagued with this problem since a child. Lysine supplements didn’t help me. I have a chart I’ve developed which I would be happy to share. Can’t see any way to attach it here.

  57. Jan Says:

    I kept a symptoms diary at first, and realized it took at least for me 7-10 from when I ate the offending food to get an out break. A symptom diary for the first year was very useful in understanding what was causing out breaks I recommend it.
    For females the hormonal changes with your period sadly will trigger out breaks, so you may be doing everything right and still get one.
    And then food, very disappointing to see everything healthy is high in arginine. Usually if you get an out break and you keep a diary you’ll be able to track what you ate, in my case every time it would be something I ate either a diet something (aspartame is high in arginine) hemp milk, onions etc. I wish I had better Wes but it sucks. It’s time some serious research is done for a cure.

  58. hazel Says:

    In case anyone is still following this thread, here’s what works for me:

    Every day, take a “Scottish” or “James Bond” shower. This is where you turn the water to freezing for the last 10 seconds. Make sure it gets on your head too. You’ll feel amazing once you dry off. I know people who have cured their allergies this way, and I am totally outbreak free thanks to this method. It conditions your body to stop freaking out and attacking itself. Also, I no longer get colds, and I live in a place where it gets to minus 20.

    I do try to avoid nuts, but I eat handfuls here and there.

  59. sandra Says:

    Can anyone tell me the ratio between lysine & arginine in GOOD HEMP SEED MILK ? Thank you

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