Herpes is a viral disease which is caused by an enveloped virus known as Herpes Simplex Virus. The disease is transmitted sexually.
The infecting virus is of two types, Herpes Simplex Virus 1 and Herpes Simplex Virus 2. HSV-1 is the causative agent for cold sores.
These lesions occur on the mouth and lips, and they appear as blisters. HSV-2 causes genital herpes and is spread mainly through sexual contact.
The infection causes itching in the genitals. It is characterised by the appearance of small red blisters in the genitals, thigh, and inside the vagina.
To prevent infection by HSV, one must avoid direct sexual contact with infected people, avoid sharing personal items.
The treatment objective of Herpes is to contain the outbreak of the sores and prevent the spreading of the sores. The infection generally lasts for up to 6 weeks. It is also known to be recurring and proper medication must be followed.
Please feel free to use the Table of Contents below to jump to the relevant section
Table of Contents
- What is Aloe Vera?
- 4 Surprising Benefits of Aloe vera For Herpes
- The dosage of Aloe Vera for Herpes
What is Aloe Vera?
Aloe barbadensis, commonly known as Aloe Vera is a short flowering plant with thick and fleshy, thorn-covered leaves.
The gel within these leaves are extracted and are used for their immense medicinal properties. The ground pulp or the Aloe Vera gel is what is used as a medicinal agent. It consists mainly of water.
The remaining part of the gel contains numerous components which make the extract extremely valuable as a medical reagent. It is composed of several vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and enzymes.
4 Surprising Benefits of Aloe vera For Herpes
Aloe vera can help in several ways with Herpes. Aloe Vera’s anti-viral activity can help with oral sores and topical application is known to help with genital herpes. Further, the anti-oxidant nature of aloe vera can help stop the progress of the infection.
Various studies have identified the benefits of application of aloe vera gel in herpes blisters/sores.
1. Aloe Vera gel has anti-HSV activity and can benefit from oral canker sores.
Herpes Simplex Virus 1 or HSV-1 is an enveloped virus and is a very common viral pathogen of the human body. It causes several diseases including Herpes, meningitis, pneumonitis and genital infections.
A study conducted in 2016 tried to evaluate the antiviral activity of Aloe vera against Herpes Simplex Virus 1. The study proved that Aloe vera extracts have potent antiviral activity and can be used as a treatment for Herpes.
Further investigation during the study showed that this activity of Aloe vera extracts can be attributed to its polysaccharide content.
Another very important constituents of Aloe vera extract is the polyphenolic fraction.
These polyphenols are very effective antiviral agents.
The study thus shows the potential benefits of Aloe vera extracts in the form of mouthwash or gel against Herpes.
What does this mean?
Consumption of Aloe vera can help in the cure of Herpes via its Antiviral Activity.
Anthraquinones are organic compounds which have immense health benefits including antimicrobial, antioxidant property etc. In the Aloe vera plant, anthraquinones are extracted from the inner part of the leaf.
A wide variety of anthraquinones are found in the Aloe vera leaf extract including Aloin, emodin, barbaloin etc.
In 1991, a study was published which evaluated the antiviral activity of these anthraquinones against Herpes Simplex Virus. The anthraquinone which was taken into consideration in this study was called Aloe emodin.
The results of the study that Aloe emodin had immense antiviral activity against enveloped DNA and RNA virus such as Herpes Simplex Virus 1.
The anthraquinones had this activity due to its ability to disrupt the viral enveloped. With a compromised viral envelope, the viral particles are unable to adsorb onto the host cell and hence, infection is prevented.
What does this mean?
Aloe vera leaf extract has anthraquinones which can help prevent infection by HSV-1 and hence, herpes.
3. Topical application of aloe vera gel benefits in genital herpes.
Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted disease which is caused by either Herpes Simplex Virus 1 or 2. It appears are sores on the skin or as blisters on the genital area. The sores are painful and the healing time for herpes infection is long.
An effort was made in a 1996 study to establish the use of Aloe vera extract for the management of genital herpes. The study focussed on the topical use of Aloe vera extracts in the form of a cream.
The study observed that application of the Aloe vera cream significantly reduced the outbreak of the sores in the infected patients. The study also found the application of the cream is safe and did not cause any form of allergic or adverse reactions in the patients.
The application of the cream significantly reduced and healed the lesions in the patients which were caused by the infection of Herpes Simplex Virus.
What does this mean?
Aloe vera extracts can be used as a topical agent to heal herpetic lesions.
4. Antioxidants in Aloe vera can control herpes infection.
Infection of Herpes Simplex Virus 1 is associated with oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is created by the generation of reactive oxygen species or ROS.
These free radicals are toxic to the cells and cause cellular damage. The replication of the virus is promoted by oxidative stress which is produced in the infected cells and this causes the infection to spread.
Aloe vera extracts contain several important polyphenols. These include compounds such as aloe emodin, benzoic acid, hydroxyphenylacetic acid, coumaric acid, salicylic acid etc.
The antioxidant capacity of these polyphenolic compounds is due to their ability to act as reducing agents and their free radical quenching activity.
Thus, these active components in Aloe vera gel can scavenge the free radicals which are produced during the infection of Herpes Simplex Virus 1. This inhibits the virus from multiplying and controls the spread of the infection.
What does this mean?
The antioxidant property of Aloe vera inhibits the spreading of Herpes infection.
The dosage of Aloe Vera for Herpes
The extracts of Aloe vera are generally consumed in the crushed form, which is incorporated into juices for internal consumption or into creams and gels for topical application.
For liquid consumption, it is recommended dosage for Aloe vera extract per day is around 250 mL, but starting with small doses say 10-30ml is advised. For application as a topical agent, around 0.5% of the gel is considered to be safe for daily use.
Aloe vera extracts have a compound called Aloin. The possible side effects of Aloe vera is due to the presence of this compound. Aloin is a laxative and is a cause of several abdominal diseases like diarrhoea, cramps and dehydration.
The consumption of Aloe vera is not recommended during pregnancy as it might cause uterine contractions and miscarriages due to the presence of Aloin.
Herpes infections spread rapidly due to sexual contact. It can cause painful sores and lesions which take a long time to cure.
Consumption of Aloe vera extracts or application of the gel can help prevent the spread of the disease. The bioactive components of the gel also prevent infection by Herpes Simplex Virus.