Catherine, a 29 year-old woman, suffered from genital herpes for the past four years. She had tried taking pharmaceutical medications at various times, but they caused frequent debilitating headaches. She finally had to quit completely. Early in her battle with herpes, her outbreaks would occur 3 or 4 times a year. One year before starting treatment at our clinic, her mother was diagnosed with stage 3 lung cancer and the flare-ups had become far more frequent. Every month she was getting an outbreak before her period. Sometimes there was a second outbreak mid-cycle. Her stress level was extremely high, and the feeling of dealing with herpes “almost all the time,” as she said, made her far more stressed out and unhappy. She always experienced a burning sensation in the skin for a couple of days before the blisters appeared. It took about a week for them to clear. She also suffered from chronic constipation.
Jackie, a 32-year-old woman, suffered from herpes on her lips and face. She claimed to have suffered from oral herpes for “as long as she could remember.” Since giving birth at age 30, her outbreaks became far more frequent. At first she attributed it to sleep deprivation and having a new baby, but by the time she came to see us for treatment she felt that a more long-term pattern had developed where every month before her period she’d have another flare-up. She worked as an actress, primarily on TV commercials, and felt that she couldn’t even show up for an audition when her face was so badly effected by clusters of blisters. She described herself as “extremely stressed,” having had a very difficult childhood and chronic anxiety.
From the point of view of Chinese medicine, the energy meridians that are effected by oral herpes and genital herpes are completely different. One of the many beautiful properties of herbs is that each herb acts on specific meridians and targets specific areas of the body. There are many herbs that have anti-viral properties, and many that clear the damp and heat seen in blisters. When treating herpes, a holistic dermatologist also has the ability to zero in on the part of the body that is effected. In the cases of Catherine and Jackie – there were a lot of similarities in their patterns. Both had flare-ups around their periods, both were under extreme levels of stress. Several of the herbs used in each woman’s internal formula were identical. But because Catherine had genital herpes and Jackie had oral and facial outbreaks, the majority of the herbs were different. In addition, Catherine’s constipation and Jackie’s anxiety were also addressed – holistically meeting their precise needs. The same topical ointment was given to both women.
Catherine and Jackie both had excellent results with the combination of internal herbs and the topical ointment. Within the first month, both noticed improvement. Catherine had a milder outbreak with far fewer blisters and less burning than before. For both women, outbreaks began to occur less frequently and with far less intensity. Catherine’s treatment lasted a total of four months. Jackie remained on herbs for six months, but the second half of her time on herbs actually focused more on treating her anxiety than treating the herpes.