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Herpes and Vitamin C

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Although there have not been many recent clinical studies involving Vitamin C and herpes, there is clear evidence supporting the use of Vitamin C for herpes.

A 2006 study published in the medical journal Alternative Medicine Review compared the effectiveness of pharmaceutical drugs for the herpes simplex virus against natural alternatives for treating herpes, including Vitamin C for herpes.

Herpes simplex virus- 1 and herpes simplex virus- 2, commonly known as oral and genital herpes, are very common infectious viruses of the skin. 

Acyclovir and similar drugs are usually prescribed to treat herpes outbreaks. These drugs have side effects that many people do not want to endure for months or years of treatment.

Serious side effects of pharmaceutical drugs for herpes include kidney failure, anaphylactic shock, and hepatitis. Vitamin C is one natural alternative that has been clinically studied for its effectiveness in treating or preventing herpes simplex.

Early evidence in support of Vitamin C for herpes

As early as 1984, clinical researchers mentioned Vitamin C as a possible antidote for herpes.

Medical Hypotheses published a study targeting the effects of Vitamin C on the AIDS virus. In the study, the researcher commented that he had personal experience with Vitamin C in the form of ascorbic acid as a virucide.

Specifically, the scientist mentioned that a topical paste made with ascorbic acid was “very effective in the treatment of herpes simplex.”

Vitamin C and herpes simplex virus- 1

In Vivo reports a study involving a pine cone lignan and ascorbic acid treatment performed by Mexican researchers in 2009.

In this study, scientists wanted to measure the effectiveness of pine come lignan and Vitamin C blend on herpes simplex virus- 1, commonly known as oral herpes.

Lignans are a form of phytoestrogen that interferes with estrogen metabolism in humans and animals. Their antioxidant properties make them valuable in inhibiting viruses such as AIDS.

Forty- eight patients between the ages of four and sixty- one-year-old with active oral herpes sores were given 1 mg of a lignan- ascorbic acid tablet three times a day for a month. Patients were followed for a year.

The patients who applied the lignan- Vitamin C ointment within the first forty- eight hours of the onset of an outbreak did not experience any oral herpes blisters or sores at all.

The patients who waited until later to apply the ointment did see cold sores, but the healing time was reduced. The patients also noticed a lessening of symptoms associated with oral herpes.

The researchers concluded that a pine cone lignan- Vitamin C treatment might be beneficial for herpes simplex virus- 1.

Herpes, Vitamin C, and the work of Frederick R. Klenner, M.D.

Dr. Frederick R. Klenner performed many experiments using mega doses of Vitamin C between the 1940s and 1970s. His most notable work involved the use of large doses of Vitamin C for the poliovirus.

Dr. Klenner did treat herpes successfully with Vitamin C. In his paper, “Clinical Guide to the Use of Vitamin C,” he notes his experience with Vitamin C and herpes simplex virus- 2.

Dr. Klenner gave his genital herpes patients an injection of adenosine as an anti-inflammatory agent. He would then give the patients 15 grams, or 15,000 mg of sodium ascorbate in an injection.

Thirty minutes later, Dr. Klenner gave his patients a second shot of adenosine, applied a tincture of benzoin to protect the blisters, and then applied calamine with phenol to the sores. Dr. Klenner treated the pain from herpes with a daily IV drip solution.

His notes state that the above treatment had to be repeated over a seventy- two hour period or outbreaks would reoccur.

For fever blisters, or herpes simplex virus- 1, Dr. Klenner used a topical ointment containing a 3% solution of Vitamin C in the form of ascorbic acid. He also gave his patients twenty grams (20,000 mg) of Vitamin C by mouth each day.

These high doses of Vitamin C for herpes “erased” the disease.

Dr. Klenner’s work was duplicated by his colleagues on “hundreds of patients” and was the inspiration for Dr. Linus Pauling, Ph. D. to pursue a more in-depth study of Vitamin C therapy. Dr. Pauling’s work with mega doses of Vitamin C led to a Nobel prize.

Food Sources of Vitamin C

Self Nutrition Data lists the following foods as the highest in natural Vitamin C per 200 calorie serving:

Foods Highest in Natural Vitamin C
Acerola cherry juice and raw acerola cherries
Hot pepper sauce
Raw sweet yellow, green, and red chili peppers
Raw mustard greens
Raw watercress
Raw lemons and lemon peel
Raw horseradish
Raw parsley


Other natural sources of Vitamin C include:

More Natural Sources of Vitamin C
Raw Chinese cabbage (bok choi)
Raw broccoli
Raw guava fruit
Raw kale
Raw black currants
Raw cauliflower
Wildcrafted rose hips


Pubmed.gov, “Natural remedies for Herpes simplex.” Gaby AR. Alternative Medical Review. June 2006; 11(2): 93- 101.

Pubmed.gov, “Vitamin C in the treatment of acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS).” Cathcart RF 3rd. Medical Hypotheses. August 1984; 14(4): 423- 33.

Flax.com, “Flaxseed: A Rich Source of Lignans”

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