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Herpes Simplex (cold sores, genital herpes)

Parts of this were taken with permission from Essential Oils Overview and Reference Guide, published by: The Family Tree, 2008


Herpes simplex is a viral infection that lies dormant in the body until the immune system is weakened before erupting. There are two strains. Type I usually breaks out around the mouth and is commonly called a cold sore or a fever blister. Type II is called genital herpes and erupts in the genitalia area. Both are highly contagious and both can occur in either area of the body.  The sores are contagious at any time but especially when the blisters that form erupt and fluids seep out.  It is important to cleanse the hands after treating these areas since the fluids can be transmitted to other parts of the body.  Two more probable secondary infections are herpetic whitlow, an infection of the fingers, and  ocular herpes, an infection of the eye that damages the cornea.

Canker sores in the mouth are not related to HIV I.  For insight into the difference between cold sores and canker sores go to the tab on Science & Research above.

An example of how both types of herpes lie dormant until our immune system is weakened is the common occurrence of cold sores when one suffers from a cold or is in a tense situation. This emphasizes that one good defense against an outbreak is to keep our immune system strong and to strengthen ourselves emotionally. If an outbreak is caught very early it can be limited.


[search help: HSV, HSV-1, HSV-2, cole sores, fevre blister, herpes labialis, orolabial herpes, herpes keratiis, stromal keratitis, iridocyclitis]

Oils, blends & products recommended:

Oils & Blends:  CloveC, GeraniumEC, LavenderEC, MelaleucaC,  MelissaEC, LemongrassC,  PeppermintC

Essential oils based products: Massage Blend Technique,

Also consider: BergamotEC, EucalyptusEC, FrankincenseC, LemonEC, MyrrhC, SandalwoodC, ThymeC, Cleansing Blend

Suggested protocols:

Topical - Apply one or two drops neat (undiluted) to the outbreak area as often as every 2 hours and not less than 3 times per day.  Continue for 3 days after symptoms are gone.  Melissa and Lemongrass are highly recommended, Melaleuca and Peppermint are suggested oils.  Lavender, Myrrh, or a blend of Frankincense and Sandalwood can also be used. Some find Melissa irritating to the skin and advise always diluting with a carrier oil. For any of the oils use at least a 50/50 dilution when applying to a sensitive area and increased dilution for children or those with sensitive skin.

Internal - Additional protection can be achieved by adding 1-2 drops of Melissa  or other antiviral oils or blends to a capsule and taking 3 times per day. 

Additional help - Herpes outbreaks typically occur when the body's immune system is weakened or at times of emotional stress.  Strengthening the immune system and emotions is important to minimize outbreaks.  The Massage Blend Technique and reducing toxins with cleanses like GI Cleansing Formula and Detoxifying Blend plus Probiotic Defense Formula will provide long term strength. 

Special Precautions: Do a skin test with the oil(s) to be used. When applying oils keep hands away from other areas where viral infection may be transmitted, including the eyes. With genital herpes, it is wise to seek the help of a licensed health professional and review any self-help program planned for use.

Experiences and Testimonials of others

Rachel - This morning I found what works on cold sores.

With the usual realization it is morning I find myself awake and happy to just be laying here... just thinking. No incoming calls have disturbed me yet so I don't bother to move. I have the freedom to decide whether to roll over into another doze or arise and begin doing something I enjoy. Either way I am at peace and I decide that drifting off feels better following a brief roll and stretch.

Then it happens! I always can feel the tingling signs of the sore beginning to form under my upper lip. That pesky bubbling feeling that ruins a tranquil calm every time. The swelling yuck of blistering cold sores have ruined so many of my mornings that no sooner do I feel one coming on that I instantly grow angry. With the world suddenly in utter shambles I feel helpless as an aching back!  With that, I am usually pulled out of bed since lying still only forces me to focus on the feeling of my new pest swelling with each heart beat. pump pump pump! Inevitably I will be treating mini blisters for the next three days.

Today however, after the tingling began I aRose to my feet interested in trying something new. I had been reading about Melaleuca, and Peppermint oil on Herpes simplex and cold sores and decided to give it a try. I thought I found something also about using Cinnamon too. Well I was going to use em all!! it wasn't so great getting some on my tongue, but a drop of each on the sore numbed my lip and the tingling stopped. Needless to say I was able to doze off again and there was never a break out. Take that ya lill' buggers!~

Maree -  I love Melaleuca on my cold sores.  I would pay big dollars to have control over my cold sores!  Oh, but I do and it only costs the price of a few drops of essential oil. LOVE THAT STUFF!!!


Cassandra - So I get fever blisters when I'm stressed and well, I'm stressed. I want to cry! For the fever blister I have been using Joyful Blend (Elevating Blend), Calming Blend and Melaleuca. Any other ideas?

Brooke – Peppermint is great too, as well as Melaleuca.

John (Aus) - Hi all, if it was my body and I had blisters I would use Lavender, Apply as often as required.

Cassandra - Thanks everyone! I've also been using this...get this...Calming Blend (only oil close at hand) and it's working great! In fact the fever blister is almost gone! And I just started using it this morning.


Nancy - What is the best protocol for treating a 2 year old with herpes simplex, mostly inside her mouth and on the outside?  Also what would be a good ongoing safe use of the oils to keep her from getting them again? Is the Probiotic Defense Formula a good thing to start her on?

Ftballwidow- Melissa would be perfect and if you don't have that then use Joyful Blend (Elevating Blend) because it has Melissa in it.  It knocks it out cold.

Nancy - Regarding the 2 year old with Herpes.  I have one box of Probiotic Defense Formula that I would be willing to let her use.  How often and how many for a 2 year old? I am nervous about the Melissa since it is such a hot oil.  Is there a ratio of FCO and Melissa or Joyful Blend (Elevating Blend) that you would suggest?  Is there any other oil that would also work? Has anyone tried Patchouli?  Would Melaleuca be strong enough?

Her mother has never used oils so I would like to recommend a daily routine for her so that she would not get them again.  What would you suggest that would not be to much for her on a daily basis?

Pat - I would suggest one a day and the Patchouli or Melaleuca for topical, she is kind of young so you might consider a carrier oil.

Debie - I use Melaleuca on my 2 year old grand daughter and it works fantastic.  One of the main issues that can be touchy with some parents is the food they are giving to the children.  So many of the treats now a days contribute to herpes.  If you can address that issue that would help as well.

Protocols folks recommend for children



Diet and Nutritional complements to essential oils


What Science & Research are saying

From Columbia University’s Health Center

There is often confusion between canker sores and cold sores. In a nutshell, canker sores are painful ulcers, or open sores, on the inner membranes of the mouth and cheek, or can resemble pimples on the tongue. Canker sores are not considered to be contagious and are of uncertain origin.

Cold sores, on the other hand, are small red blisters that generally affect the mouth and facial areas, but usually appear on the lip and outer edge of the mouth. In contrast to canker sores, cold sores are extremely contagious and are most often caused by the Herpes Simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1). More importantly, when oral herpes lesions and/or its contents come into direct contact with the genital area through oral-genital sex, genital herpes most likely will develop.

Although it is more likely that the sores that develop in your mouth are canker sores, you may not be able to tell the difference between a canker sore and a cold sore by sight. If you're unsure it's wise to treat your sore as though it were a cold sore — that it is caused by herpes and contagious.


Melissa: Lemon balm as a topical treatment for herpes simplex virus

by Jill Hoppe Medical Herbalism 11(4):13,16

A 1999, double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized German trial studied the efficacy of a topical cream made from the standardized dried leaf extract of Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis, 70:1) for the treatment of Herpes simplex labialis (“cold sores” - a form of herpes simplex that occurs on the lips). Sixty-six patients who had at least four episodes of herpes labialis yearly took part in the trial. The cream was applied topically on the affected area four times daily for five days. A significant difference in the size of the affected area and blisters, compared to placebo was observed by day two of the therapy. Symptoms on day two are of particular importance since symptoms in those suffering from herpes labialis are usually most intense at that time. The Lemon balm cream shortened the healing period and had an advantageous affect on associated symptoms such as itching, tingling, burning, swelling, etc. The authors suggest that there exist some indication that using Lemon balm will prolong intervals between herpes episodes. In addition, Lemon balm is unlikely to make the herpes virus resistant. (Koytchev) Note: The antiviral drug Acyclovir (Zovirax) is often prescribed for herpes simplex infections. It interferes with the reproduction of viral DNA, slowing the growth of existing viruses; however, it has little effect on recurrent infections. Scientific studies have shown Acyclovir may induce herpes simplex virus to become resistant by interfering with the metabolism of the virus-infected cells.



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NOTE: The advice shared in this site has not been evaluated by the FDA. The products and methods recommended are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease, nor is it intended to replace proper medical help. As members offer or look for answers, kindly understand that essential oils work to help to bring the body into balance - thus helping the body's natural defenses to restore homeostasis. Essential oils are not used to "treat" medical problems.