Foods to Fight the Herpes Virus

7 min reading time

Nutrition and wellness practices are SO important when living with the herpes virus.

When you live with herpes, whether it be HSV-1 (oral or oral/genital) or HSV-2 (genital & oral), it is important to know what foods to eat and what foods to avoid to manage, prevent and heal recurring outbreaks, as well as shorten their duration or severity, boost your immune system and relax your nervous system.

When your immunity is lowered or when we are stressed out, that’s when the herpes virus tends to make its appearance. That’s why not only is nutrition important but wellness practices are as well, like making sure you get enough sleep, reducing stress, as well as practicing mindfulness, yoga, and meditation.

I’ve lived with HSV-2 for most of my life. There was a period of time in my life where it wasn’t an issue, and there was a period of time in my life (under high and long term stress), where I got frequent, recurring outbreaks.

With my own personal experience of living with Herpes as well as my education as a nutritionist, I know how important diet, nutrition, and wellness are for managing, healing and preventing herpes outbreaks because I have experienced it myself.

I’ve highlighted the breakdown of food, vitamin/supplement, and mineral recommendations in terms of Macronutrients (carbs, fats, and proteins) and Micronutrients ( foods, vitamins, and minerals).

– Whole grains like quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth provide an excellent source of zinc and iron.
– Sweet potato is a good source of Beta Carotene and Vitamin A which are also helpful in preventing and naturally treating herpes outbreaks.
– These all help to inhibit HSV replication and enhances cell-mediated immunity as well as reduces the frequency, duration, and severity of herpes outbreaks
*Note: Excess carbohydrates (especially from refined carbohydrates), have a negative impact on gut health, which can weaken the immune system.

Good Fats:
– Help to make your skin softer which minimizes the “viral shedding” period of healing of the herpes virus. – Polyunsaturated fats and Omega 3’s are important in helping to reduce the inflammation and pain associated with outbreaks.
Excellent sources of “Good Fats” include: Coconut oil, avocado, wild-caught salmon and other fatty fish, olives and cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil, grass-fed butter and cream, avocados, small amounts of dairy products, cheese.

– Good quality and conscious sources of lean meat such as grass-fed beef and chicken are high in L-lysine which has been shown to prevent outbreaks of the herpes simplex virus. Red meat is also an excellent source of vitamin A which helps prevent outbreaks by boosting the immune system.

Vitamin C:
– Increases healing of herpes ulcers helps to enhance the immune system
Food Sources: Citrus Fruits, strawberries, broccoli, peppers, cantaloupe, tomatoes, Kiwi fruit
Recommended Supplement intake: 10,000 mg per day to treat an active outbreak. 500 to 3,000 mg per day for prevention
Vitamin C supplement recommendations:

Dr. Gifford-jones Preferred Nutrition Medi-C Plus Vitamin C & L-lysine Formula Berry Flavour 600g (US and International)

Preferred Nutrition Medi C Plus Berry with Magnesium Powder, Vitamin C & L- Lysine Formula (Canada)

Vitamin D3:
-Helps to strengthen the immune system and prevent recurring outbreaks
Food Sources: Salmon, beef liver, cheese, eggs
Recommended Supplement intake: 2000-4000 IU/day

Vitamin D3 supplement recommendations:

VEGAN D3 + K2 “Full Spectrum” Drops (US and International)
Certified Organic Vitamin D3 Drops (Canada)

– Helps to replenish the good flora in your gut, which helps to strengthen the immune system
Food Sources: Fermented foods (i.e. sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir), yogurt (full fat, low sugar), cheese
Recommended supplement intake: 10-50 billion/day
Probiotics supplement recommendations:
Genestra Brands – HMF Women’s Daily (US and International)
Genestra Brands – HMF Women’s Daily (Canada)

– Lysine has anti-viral properties and prevents and heals herpes lesions. Meat is high in L-lysine which has been shown to prevent outbreaks
Food Sources: Parmesan Cheese, Eggs, Avocado, Lean cuts of meat (i.e. chicken)
Recommended supplement intake: 1000mg 3 times/day
Lysine supplement recommendations:
Dr. Gifford-jones Preferred Nutrition Medi-C Plus Vitamin C & L-lysine Formula Berry Flavour 600g (US and International)
Preferred Nutrition Medi C Plus Berry with Magnesium Powder, Vitamin C & L- Lysine Formula (Canada)

– Inhibits HSV replication and enhances cell-mediated immunity.  Reduces the frequency, duration, and severity of herpes outbreaks
Food Sources: Oysters and shellfish, chicken, legumes, lean red meat, chicken, turkey, beef and lamb, Whole grains; amaranth, buckwheat, quinoa
Recommended supplement intake: 50mg/day
Zinc supplement recommendations:
Now Foods Zinc Gluconate (US and International)
Solaray Zinc 50mg (Canada)

Vitamin A:
– Supports and maintains a healthy immune system
Food Sources: Sweet potatoes (beta carotene), Beef liver, Spinach, Carrots, Peppers
Recommended supplement intake: males – 6000 IU, females – 4000 IU
Vitamin A supplement recommendations:

Pure Encapsulations O.N.E. Multivitamin – includes Vitamin A (US and International)
SISU Supreme Multivitamin 120 VCincludes Vitamin A (Canada)

Vitamin E:
– Applied topically, it prevents and heals herpes lesions.  Applied topically to herpes lesions, up to 4 times a day during herpes outbreaks
Food Sources: Wheat germ oil, Olive oil, Spinach, Broccoli
Vitamin E supplement recommendations:

Pure Encapsulations O.N.E. Multivitamin – includes Vitamin E (US and International)
SISU Supreme Multivitamin 120 VCincludes Vitamin E (Canada)

Fish Oil:
– Fish oil displays anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties and may help reduce the symptoms of herpes.
Food Sources: Wild-caught salmon
Recommended Supplement intake: 1000mg EPA+DHA/day

Fish oil supplement recommendations:

– Omega 3 Fish Oil 4,080mg (US and International)

Nature’s Way NutraSea Omega 3 Supplement Liquid Gels, 1250mg (Canada)

Grapeseed Extract:
– Resveratrol is a highly beneficial substance found in grapes (like the popular grapefruit seed extract supplements) and cocoa that has been linked in numerous studies to health benefits. Resveratrol has been shown in labs to inhibit the herpes virus from replicating or forming lesions in mice. For this reason, the resveratrol herpes remedy and grapefruit seed extract herpes remedy are both very popular.
Supplement form only.
Recommended supplement intake: 100-300mg/day

Grapeseed supplement recommendations:

Pure Encapsulations Grapefruit Seed Extract (US and International)

New Roots Herbal Grapefruit Seed Extract With Wormwood, Anti parasites (Canada)

– Normally a beneficial amino acid that reduces healing time and repairs damaged tissue. However, it makes herpes outbreaks worse. Individuals with herpes should avoid foods with a high arginine to lysine ratio, especially at the time of an outbreak.
Foods high in arginine: Raw nuts and seeds, Chocolate/cacao, Wheat, Corn, Bananas

Alcohol, Caffeine, Cigarettes & Recreational Drugs:
– All of these things weaken your immune system and can cause a lot of unnecessary physiological stress in the body when consumed in excess and can reduce your immunity. When you live with herpes, make sure to either avoid these things or consume in moderation (and responsibly!)

– Consuming sugar can weaken gut health by feeding the “bad bacteria” in the gut. When these bacteria start overpopulating when we feed them with sugar, it can weaken the immune system.

If you are someone who lives with Herpes and need support, I offer Herpes Support calls as part of my services and create a safe space for you to feel comfortable talking about your experience in a safe space with someone who understands. Send me a DM if you are interested in learning more!

For more beneficial information on living with the Herpes virus and my personal experience, make sure to follow me on Social Media @yoninutritionist.

Also, check out my Healing Herpes Holistically online program, which will teach you everything you need to know about how to manage, prevent & heal herpes outbreaks holistically:


  • Dagmar

    Lysin is also very high in chickpeas (highest) as well as lentils – for the vegetarians and vegans out there.

  • MusicMan84

    I’ve been doing a lot of research and am getting conflicting answers about a few items. Some articles say they’re good and some say they’re bad. It’s very confusing. Maybe someone can help? These items are….

    Lemon and other citrus

    • yoninutritionist

      Hello, thanks for your question! It can be really confusing with all the info that’s available online but I’ve helped clarify some of these questions on my Herpes Nutrition & Support Facebook Group. If you’d like to join to find out more info, here’s the link:

    • Katherine Calderon

      I have the same problem too. It’s frustrating!
      I’ve actually had to sit down and look through make different articles and websites and studies and charts to see the majority of answers for certain foods.

      For beef from what I have searched, it’s okay. It was for lysine than arginine.

      Lemon is fine but in water because it becomes alkaline and it helps your body fight off the outbreak. Other citrus fruits you should stay away from. From what I have read on a different pages most contain higher levels than arginine over lysine.

      Cashews are a big no because they contain higher amounts of arginine compared to lysine.

      Bananas are actually a happy medium containing a bit more lysine over arginine. It’s not a great difference but the lysine content is still higher than the arginine content. So go for some bananas!

      Definitely recommend: Greek yogurt, fish, cheese, potatoes. Main staples in my diet during an outbreak since their lysine content overpowers the arginine content drastically!

      Hope this helps. Take care!

      Soy I would stay away from because I’ve red more on how it has more arginine than lysine. So best to limit or avoid that during an outbreak.

  • Alesha

    Love these comments. I too was getting frustrated with all the conflicting information.
    I’m about to have a baby and really trying to keep herpes at bay through nutrition, but it’s hard when so much of the info conflicts. I found this article helpful. Thank you

    • yoninutritionist

      I’m so glad you found it helpful! Good luck with the birth of your baby (if it hasn’t happened already!)

  • Jessay

    Thank you so much for talking about your experience. There isn’t much blogging about this and how they deal with it. This is such a sensitive topic and no one wants to talk about it.

    • yoninutritionist

      I’m so glad you find it helpful, and you’re right, there isn’t enough info about this online!

  • Toni

    I’m and RN and work in a Functional medicine clinic. I found this breakdown very helpful. Thank you.

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