Cold sores (Herpes simplex) – Traditional Medicine

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The use of bees and bee products is of interest in the treatment of herpes as for both the preventive and symptomatic treatment of herpes simplex. Propolis, a substance made by bees for construction of their own hives, is a complex substance with compounds known to play an important role as natural antivirals, including flavinoids. A  recent study using an animal model, indicated that propolis may be effective in reducing the severity and duration of an outbreak of herpes. Another study used a 5% extract of propolis and applied it topically, finding that even this 5% extract of propolis was sufficient to prevent the appearance and development of symptoms. These studies suggest propolis has a strong antiviral effect and support further research in a clinical setting.

Acupuncture and moxibustion

There is evidence to suggest that acupuncture and moxibustion are both effective in preventing outbreaks of herpes. Acupuncture stimulates points on the body to treat disease, moxibustion applies heat through burning moxa, a herb, on the acupressure points. Both are believed to stimulate the body’s own ability to heal. In one study researchers examined the immunological response activated by moxibustion. They measured survival rates against the herpes virus administering lethal doses of HSV-1 to mice, and found that mice receiving moxibustion at related acupressure points were significantly more likely to survive than those without the moxibustion treatment (Takayama et al 2010). This study concluded that moxibustion worked by stimulating the body’s own defences, making it better able to protect the body against the HSV virus. In another Chinese study with patients with recurrent HSV-1, it was found that guan-moxibustion and acupuncture could alleviate palsy caused by herpes (herpes simplex facial neuritis) (Tian et al 2006).


Two recent studies indicate the effectiveness of homeopathic Engystol and Euphorbium compositum preparations (manufactured by Biologische Heilmittel HEEL GmbH, Baden-Baden, Germany) in the treatment of herpes. Engystol is a homeopathic preparation to reduces the duration and severity of symptoms during an acute viral infection and help protect from subsequent infections. It has been tested on human pathogenic viruses in vitro (in the laboratory) by measuring the amount and type of proteins made by the viruses and the number of viruses present. After exposing the viruses to Engystol it was found that there was a substantial reduction in the amount of HSV-1 specific proteins produced by the viruses, supporting the finding that Engystol has an antiviral affect (Oberbaum et al 2005).In a study of the homeopathic preparation Euphorbium compositum, used in the form of drops, spray or injection and used to reduce inflammation in patients with upper respiratory tract infections, the preparation was tested in vitro on viral pathogens to see if it had an antiviral affect. The study found a reduction in virus production and concluded this was due to the Euphorbium compositum.


Shimizu et al. Efficacy of Brazilian Propolis against Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 Infection in Mice and Their Modes of Antiherpetic Efficacies. Evidence Based Complement Alternat Med. 

Takayama et al. Moxibustion activates host defense against herpes simplex virus type I through augmentation of cytokine production. Microbiol Immunol. Sept 2010.

Tian et al.  Controlled observation on Guan-moxibustion and suspended moxibustion for treatment of herpes simplex virus facial neuritis. Zhongguo ZhenJiu. Mar 2006. 

Huleihel et al. Anti-herpes simplex virus effect of an aqueous extract of propolis. Isr Med Assoc J. Nov 2002.

Oberbaum M.  Antiviral activity of Engystol: an in vitro analysis. J Altern Complement Med. Oct 2005.

Glatthaar-Saalmuller et al. Antiviral action of Euphorbium compositum and its components.Forsch Komplementarmed Klass Naturheilkd. Aug 2001.



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