Herpes – The Many Faces It Wears
Over the years I have seen the herpes virus cause many so called “mysterious health complaints” in patients, the cause of which eluded some top medical specialists. We all know the common presentations of the herpes virus – namely chickenpox, shingles and recurrent cold sores on the face and blisters on the genitals areas.
However, the herpes virus being a perpetual inhabitant of the nervous system, can pop up in areas of the body and ways you may never suspect. This virus lives in the roots (ganglions) of the nerves and may hibernate there without causing problems. If it reactivates and multiplies, it travels down the nerves to the ends of the nerves and may erupt in the skin. The herpes virus may also multiply in the brain and cranial nerves causing severe brain inflammation (encephalitis) and paralysis.
Here are some case histories of unusual presentations of herpes that never got recognized and thus were not treated appropriately.
A 59-year-old lady presents with paralysis of her left vocal cord causing a hoarse voice and sore throat. She also had some shortness of breath and the left hemi-diaphragm at the bottom of her left lung was raised, and did not move normally. The clue is that the vagus nerve supplies the muscles of the vocal cords and the diaphragm, and the herpes virus was living in the vagus nerve and had damaged this nerve.
She previously suffered with cold sores on her lips and had positive antibodies against the herpes virus in her blood. After appropriate supplements to strengthen her immune system, the paralysed vocal cord and diaphragm recovers and she is symptom free after 4 months.
A 49-year-old lady presents with a 3-year history of a constant 24/7 headache in the right frontal-temporal area of her head and deep behind her eyes. This headache is severe, constant and requires daily analgesics, which have caused a fatty liver. She is overweight and extremely tired.
She has been told by a neurologist that it is a migraine, which does not make sense, as migraines are episodic headaches and come and go. Her headaches do not respond to drugs that suppress migraines and the neurologist has not been able to help her. She continues to suffer and sees a gynecologist, who tells her that she has headaches due to menopause! Strange, as headaches are not a symptom of menopause and hormone therapy does not help her headaches.
The clue is that over the previous 3 years she has had an episode of shingles affecting the right forehead and right eye, which was treated with anti-viral medications. Notwithstanding treatment the constant headache remains. Other causes of her headaches are excluded including high blood pressure, sinus infection and brain tumors, and extensive investigations reveal no cause for her headaches. I deduce that she has the herpes virus active in her brain, trigeminal nerve and possibly her optic nerves, which is causing the inflammation and thus the pain.
I prescribe a detox for her liver and nutritional supplements to fight the herpes virus and reduce brain inflammation. Her headaches gradually lessen and she starts to have headache free days.
Herpes – Background information
Herpes viruses are large DNA viruses. There are eight Human Herpes-Viruses (HHVs): herpes simplex virus (HSV-) 1, HSV-2, varicella zoster virus (VZV or HHV-3), Epstein–Barr virus (EBV or HHV-4, also known as glandular fever), cytomegalovirus (CMV or HHV-5), HHV-6, HHV-7, and HHV-8.
All herpes-viruses have the ability to become latent or dormant (much like a bear hibernates in the winter). The herpes viruses exist in a dormant form in ganglia (lumpy nerve root origins) of the nervous system and in lymphatic tissue such as lymph glands.
Most of the HHVs are attracted to nervous tissue (neurotropic) and infrequently cause serious acute and chronic neurological disease of the Peripheral Nervous System (nerves in the extremities) and Central Nervous System (brain, spinal cord and cranial nerves).
Infection with each herpes virus produces different signs and symptoms and imaging abnormalities seen on CT or MRI Scans of the nervous system. Serious complications of infection with the herpes viruses include meningitis, encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), myelitis (inflammation of the spinal cord), inflammation of many spinal and peripheral nerves (radiculo-neuritis), and different inflammatory diseases of the eye. Recognition of the different clinical presentations and imaging characteristics of disease produced by different herpes viruses is important, because infection by many of the herpes viruses can be treated successfully with anti-viral drugs in the very early stages before the virus causes severe damage to nervous tissue. Early diagnosis and proper treatment are essential to a favorable outcome using anti-viral drugs.
Blood tests for herpes virus infection
If it is suspected that herpes is the cause of neurological symptoms or disease the detection of herpes-virus-specific DNA in bodily fluids or tissues, herpes-virus-specific IgM in blood, or herpes-virus-specific IgM or IgG antibody in cerebrospinal fluid can be shown.
Holistic medicine against the herpes virus
If the patient has a low immune system associated with other chronic infections, leaky gut, fatty liver or mineral and vitamin deficiencies, they will find it hard to stop recurrent or severe attacks of herpes infections.
To prevent new or recurrent herpes infections, it is vital to have a strong immune system and if you don’t, then herpes can cause awful damage to your central or peripheral nervous system. The most important nutrients for your immune system to fight the herpes virus, and indeed all viruses include:
- Vitamin C and I recommend at least 1000mg daily as a supplement as well as consuming fruits and vegetables high in vitamin C. Remember that cooking and microwaving destroys vitamin C.
- Vitamin D3, which reduces inflammation in nervous tissue and supports immune strength.
- Zinc, which helps white cells to fight viruses.
- Iodine, which is important for immune competence and brain health.
- Selenium, which is unique in its ability to keep viruses in a dormant and thus inactive state.
British researcher Dr Margaret Rayman has shown in numerous studies that viruses can become much more dangerous (virulent) in people who are selenium deficient. This includes herpes, hepatitis viruses, the HIV virus that causes AIDS, and influenza and viral encephalitis.
I have been practising and researching nutritional medicine for over 40 years and if anyone asked me “what is the most important nutrient to fight a viral infection?”- I would say without doubt - whether it is a chronic or acute viral infection - it is selenium. I call selenium “the viral birth control pill”
Selenium acts on the genetic material of viruses (its RNA or DNA) and has three highly valuable effects:
- Inhibits the ability of the virus to multiply (replicate)
- Reduces the ability of the virus to mutate into a more aggressive (virulent) form
- Increases the chances that the virus will stay inactive or less active and not harm you
My recommended selenium supplement is called Selenomune. It is a power packed supplement to strengthen your immune system and each capsule contains:
- Selenium 200mcg from 3 different forms of selenium (SelenoPure® Selenomethionine, L-Selenomethionine and Sodium Selenite)
- Vitamin C (as Ascorbic Acid) 100 mg
- Folic Acid (as 5-methyltetrahydrofolate) 200 mcg
- Vitamin B-12 (as Methylcobalamin) 20 mcg
- Iodine (from Kelp) 150 mcg
- Zinc (as Zinc Oxide) 5 mg
- Manganese (as Manganese Sulfate) 1 mg
- Chromium (as Chromium Chelate) 20 mcg
- Molybdenum (as Molybdenum Chelate) 50 mcg
- Boron (as Boron Citrate) 0.1 mg
- Brewer’s Yeast 500 mg
Selenomune is truly a star supplement formulated to make your immune system fight infections efficiently.
An excellent paper on selenium is found here - Selenium and Viral Diseases: Facts and Hypotheses, By Ethan Will Taylor, Ph.D.
The above statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease.
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