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Tea for Herpes

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Learn which teas will help reduce the symptoms of herpes outbreaks.

When a person gets a medical diagnosis, such as for herpes simplex- 1 or herpes simplex- 2, he or she often searches for all the information possible for treatments. Seeking alternative treatments for a medical condition is a very common and understandable action.

In the case of the herpes simplex virus, whether oral herpes or genital herpes, one treatment to help either prevent herpes outbreaks or relieve the symptoms of herpes may come as a surprise.

This treatment is tea. However, the definition of “tea” requires an explanation.

The scientist’s definition of “tea”

When a person makes black or green tea as a beverage, he or she boils water, adds either tea bags or loose tea, covers the teapot, and allows the tea to “steep” for a few minutes before pouring the tea into teacups or a pitcher.

A scientist calls this steeping action an “aqueous extraction.” The word aqueous means “made from water” or “containing water.” The word extraction means “pulling.” Hot or iced teas are aqueous extractions of herbs, according to the scientific community.

The herbalist’s definition of “tea”

An herbalist carries the definition of tea one step further. When making tea from certified organic traditional healing herbs, an herbalist either makes an infusion or a decoction.

If someone chooses to make an herbal tea to treat herpes, knowing the difference between an infusion and a decoction can be the difference between the herbal tea working or not working.


To an herbalist, an infusion is the same thing as “making tea” in the everyday sense of the phrase. Making an infusion is simply pouring boiling purified water over organic herbs and allowing them to “steep” for a few moments.

Herbalists make infusions of herbs which are leaves, grasses, and flowers. This is because these are the tender parts of a plant. The beneficial plant chemicals are easily released into the hot water.


Decoctions are for the tougher parts of plants, such as the roots, stalks, bark, and seeds.

To make a decoction, an herbalist adds cold filtered water to a pan of organic herbs, brings the herbs to a rolling boil, and actually cooks the herbs for fifteen minutes before pouring the tea.

It is very easy to remember which kind of herbal tea to make. Simply think of the phrase “tea leaves.”

Since hot or iced tea is made with tea leaves, any herb that is a leaf or flower is made the same way- as an infusion. If the herb is not a leaf or flower, a decoction should be prepared.

Tea for herpes


Listed below are herbs, which made in the form of an aqueous extraction (tea), which have been clinically proven to help prevent or treat the herpes simplex virus. All herbs should be labeled as certified organic and come from a reliable, trusted source.

Infusions for Herpes
Camellia sinensis
Lemon balm

Camellia sinensis (green tea)

Green tea made from Camellia sinensis contains polyphenols called catechins. The catechins found in green camellia tea are able to inhibit viruses such as HIV, influenza, and the herpes simplex virus.

While the catechins in green camellia tea were not readily available by drinking the tea, the medical journal Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy reported in 2008 that the green tea could be applied topically to outbreaks of both herpes simplex- 1 and herpes simplex- 2 virus strains.

In vitro, HSV- 2 could be deactivated with the catechins in green camellia tea in as little as ten minutes. HSV-1 could be deactivated in as little as thirty minutes.

In vitro refers to experiments done in a laboratory, not on living subjects.

The implications of this discovery are that green camellia tea could be used as a vaginal microbicidal, especially in pregnant women affected with genital herpes.

Other teas for herpes

In 2006, scientists in the Department of Biology at the University of Heidelberg, in Heidelberg, Germany, wanted to observe the antiviral effects of a certain family of herbs on the herpes simplex virus (HSV).

Lemon balm, sage, rosemary, thyme, peppermint, and prunella were all made into aqueous extracts and applied to herpes simplex- 1 (oral herpes), herpes simplex- 2 (genital herpes), and a drug-resistant strain of HSV- 1 in vitro.

All of the herbs performed very well against all three kinds of herpes viruses. In order to find out how the herbs affected the herpes viruses, the aqueous extracts were applied at different stages of infection.

Before the infection stage, each of the herbs was very effective against all of the herpes viruses. With very strongly concentrated aqueous extractions, the herbs killed more than 90% of both the herpes simplex- 1 and herpes simplex- 2 virus cells.

Strong teas made from these herbs also killed over 85% of the drug-resistant oral herpes virus.

The scientists concluded that each of the herbs would be excellent choices for a topical treatment against recurring herpes outbreaks. This means that the tea would be applied directly to the skin.

Herbalists might suggest that a person affected with herpes drink three cups of the tea over the course of a day on a daily basis. A strong infusion can be made by using a tablespoon of dried herbs in each cup, then pouring steaming hot filtered water over the herbs.

Once cooled, the used herbs could be placed directly on the affected area and wrapped securely with a gauze bandage.

Lemon balm (Melissa Officinalis)

Lemon balm is a soothing mint with a distinct lemon scent. The herb is nicknamed bee balm because bees are highly attracted to the plant. Lemon balm is often used in herbal treatments for the brain, central nervous system, and migraine headaches.

Sage (Salvia officinalis)

Sage has been used as both a culinary and healing herb for centuries. Its peppery flavor makes sage a favorite for poultry and sausage seasoning. Sage is a favorite digestive herb.

When taken cold, sage will reduce a fever. When taken hot, it will help force a fever and sweating. Sage works well as an astringent for skin and helps relieve itching.

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)

Rosemary, a pungent mint used to flavor meat, vinegar, and liqueurs, is widely used in herbal healing preparations for its antioxidant and antispasmodic capabilities. Rosemary is showing promise in the medical community for Alzheimer’s, osteoarthritis, and cancer.

Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)

Thyme was once worn by knights in armor when they went into battle as a sign of courage and for wound care. Ancient Egyptians used thyme as an antibacterial herb when they prepared mummies for burial.

Thyme is a strong antiseptic and is the main ingredient in a very popular mouthwash. It is used to treat athlete’s foot, yeast infections, whooping cough, and asthma.

Peppermint (Mentha piperita)

Peppermint is the classic “minty” herb. Not only does peppermint aid digestion, it soothes irritable bowel syndrome and tension headaches. Peppermint has anti-bacterial properties and can be used as a pain reliever.

Prunella (Prunella vulgaris)

Prunella is sometimes called “heal all.” As the name suggests, Prunella is used in traditional herbal medicine to heal everything from sore throats and minor skin abrasions to liver disease.

The antibiotic, antiviral, and antiseptic phytochemicals in prunella make it a favorite “go to” herb for infectious diseases.

Decoctions for Herpes
Turkey rhubarb root

Turkey rhubarb root

Turkey rhubarb root is commonly known simply as rhubarb. Its purgative action makes the herb an effective colon cleanser. Traditional herbalists also use rhubarb to treat stubborn skin infections.

In 2001, scientists at the University State Hospital in Zurich, Switzerland, were experimenting with the antiviral properties of certain herbs on the herpes labialis (oral herpes) virus.

The scientists wanted to compare a prescription topical cream for HSV- 1 with a cream of their own creation, made from turkey rhubarb root and sage extracts. They compared a laboratory- made sage cream, turkey rhubarb root and sage cream, and Zorivax.

While a cream or ointment is not the same thing as a tea, the scientists made the cream with aqueous (water) and aqueous- ethanol (grain alcohol tincture) extracts of sage and turkey rhubarb.

The scientists discovered that it took 7.6 days for the herpes lesions to heal with sage cream alone, 6.7 days for the rhubarb- sage combination, and 6.5 days for Zorivax. Overall, the rhubarb-sage cream was just as effective as Zorivax, while sage by itself was not.

The implication of the study, as documented by the scientists themselves, was that “a rhubarb root... and sage extract showed a promising activity.”

Garlic (Allium sativum)

Garlic is a powerful anti-microbial and anti-parasitic. It has been used since ancient times to heal any number of infections.

Knowing that garlic had been clinically demonstrated to possess antiviral chemicals, scientists at Brigham Young University decided to test it on herpes simplex virus- 1, herpes simplex virus- 2, and other viruses.

In the study, the scientists took fresh garlic extract, commonly known as fresh garlic juice, and applied the extract to all of the viruses. Garlic killed all of them, including herpes.

Once again, while the clinical study used fresh garlic extract, garlic can be made into a tea. Since garlic is a tough substance, using the decoction method of extraction would garner the best results.

One caution when making herbal teas for therapeutic purposes

When most people think of “herbal tea,” they think of a relaxing, delicious cup of chamomile or spearmint tea. When herbalists use teas for therapeutic purposes, on many occasions the herbs are quite bitter and taste horrible.

It is perfectly acceptable to add raw honey to any herb tea for flavoring. However, sugar or artificial sweeteners should never be used with traditional medicinal herbs. These sweeteners do more harm than good and defeat the integrity of the healing herbs.


Pubmed.gov, “Antiviral effect of aqueous extracts from species of the Lamiaceae family against Herpes simplex virus type 1 and type 2 in vitro “ S. Nolkemper, et al. Planta Medica. December 2006; 72(15): 1378- 82.

Pubmed.gov “Epigallocatechin Gallate Inactivates Clinical Isolates of Herpes Simplex Virus,” Charles E. Isaacs, et al. Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy. March 2008; 52(3): 962- 970.

Mountain Rose Herbs.com “Lemon Balm Herb Profile”

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