What Foods Trigger a Herpes Outbreak?

What Foods Trigger Herpes Outbreaks?

One of the most universal recommendations specific to the management of herpes is to be mindful of the two amino acids arginine and lysine in your diet. Herpes outbreaks and many other chronic viruses are triggered by high amounts of arginine. Arginine feeds herpes and encourages its growth and reproduction. Lysine, on the other hand, boosts immunity and offers up protection from future outbreaks. Lysine is an antiviral that helps you heal naturally. To sum it up….
Lysine is your FRIEND
Arginine is your ENEMY
Ideally, you want to decrease the foods that are high in arginine and increase the foods that are high in lysine. The higher the ratio of lysine/ arginine, the greater its impact on keeping herpes dormant.
Should I Supplement Daily With Lysine?
Although many people use lysine supplements, I do NOT recommend them as a daily protocol for months at a time. Too much supplemental lysine will impair your immunity as much as too little lysine. I recommend using lysine at the onset of any symptoms of a herpes outbreak. This could be itching, redness, tingling etc. At the first onset of symptoms, I use 500mg-1000mg of Lysine every few hours until symptoms subside Daily lysine supplementation also poses the risk of heavy metal toxicity. Food consumption is much more natural and totally safe. It has been shown that the effects of lysine supplementation is no better than the use of garlic, a much safer alternative.
What should you do if you have frequent herpes outbreaks?
Keep it simple. Increase foods high in lysine and decrease foods high in arginine when symptoms are not present.

What foods are high in Lysine?

Most Vegetables and fruits

Dairy based products including cheese, milk and yogurt

Fish, Chicken, Lamb and Beef

Brewer’s Yeast






 What foods are high in Arginine?

All nuts and nut products

Nut butters (peanut butter, almond butter etc.) Caffeine Chocolate Seeds (except hemp and flax) Oatmeal Brown Rice Raisins Whole Wheat and White flour Carob Lentils Wheat germ

Dried beans including soybeans and tofu

Protein shakes, multivitamins and body building supplements that contain arginine

The above food recommendations are meant to point you in the right direction towards managing your outbreaks and living a vibrant, healthy life. As discussed, there are many known triggers when it comes to herpes and certain foods. Each person with herpes is unique in their body and what things trigger a herpes outbreak. For those who are sensitive to foods, I highly recommend a Paleo style diet.



  1. believingbetter23 says:

    I need some help! I can not figure out how to post my story and i am in desperate need of some information, help, and support. how do i post my story? please.

  2. tryingtobebrave2 says:

    I am newly diagnosed…as in yesterday. I have never had an outbreak..I don’t even know what to look for being asymptomatic. My anxiety about spreading it to someone else is even higher…. as I don’t know anything…do I take medication anyway?
    I live in a country that does not speak English and I have no one to really explain things to me.
    Seeing that I am asymptomatic, will I always be…or will I get the sores eventually? I don’t know what will trigger anything as I have never had an outbreak….I am 38 I had already given up on ever having kids before my diagnosis…so the kids weren’t a big part of my plans.. I have so many questions. I am happy for an outlet.

    • Dr. Kelly says:

      The first thing I encourage you to do is to take a deep breath. I know that this diagnosis can seem overwhelming, but you can learn how to have a normal and healthy sex life.

      If you have never had any symptoms, then I wouldn’t be too concerned about what to eat or not eat. If at any time in the future, you get an outbreak, then you can begin to learn what foods might have triggered it. The number one cause of outbreaks is the mismanagement of stress.

      Take the time to write down some of your favorite things you like to do to decrease stress. When things start to feel overwhelming, take a deep breath and pick one of these things on your list and do it.

      There might come a time in the future when you do have symptoms. The main symptoms to look for are tingling, redness, itching and blisters. If you have any of these symptoms, it COULD be an outbreak.

      I would speak to your doctor about how you want to manage your herpes. There are some women who take antivirals daily and many women who use antivirals episodically, meaning only when they have symptoms. Then there are women like myself who don’t use antivirals at all and instead use holistic herpes treatments. It’s truly a personal decision.

      Hope this helps.

      Live. Love. Thrive.
      Dr. Kelly

    • MamaBear says:

      Hello! Your ordeal with this experience is similar to mine. I will NEVER know when I got this. It probably was 3 decades ago.I didn’t know til 2007. I honestly don’t think I ever had an outbreak. I did ask someone I dated from 2002-07 to get tested and he was negative! I was so so glad! Now, I will get completely irrational over being in close family times and a child will sit where I sat naked likke once on a jacuzzi but much later. Then he chose my prior-used towel. I now take acyiclovir just to make me feel less “toxic.” we’re about to go on vacation together and I always live in fear and shame that he might be the only child alive to weirdly catch this from that sort of contact I didn’t see coming! I so wish you the very very best. The actual disease is not really worse than so many other diseases. The stigma is the worst of it.Someone who might reject, might actually have it, like me! Without a blood test you can’t know. I had a few sexual partners and a husband for 17 yrs and never knew. So, we can learn and grow and show compassion from experiencing stigma and unnecessary rejection! I wish you all good things to come!

  3. feelinghopeful says:

    Dr. Kelly,

    I have a question – You list Fish, Chicken, Lamb and Beef as High Lysine foods. What about Turkey? I’m a huge turkey eater as it has relaxation properties, but wasn’t sure about white meat turkey’s Lysine wise. Just curious.. Thank you..

      • feelinghopeful says:

        Thank you so much for answering. I’ve changed my diet a lot since diagnosis and lost a lot of weight due to stress because I was unsure of what to eat or do. Not that I didn’t need to lose weight but you know. It is very nice to know that I can keep many of the things in my diet such as Turkey, veggies and such. I was already pretty Gluten Free due to a wheat allergy, and switching from rice to quinoa is not so bad, once I learn how to make it. Thank you again for the book and all the information on your site. I am grateful. It is a life line of hope in the dark of a disease I never ever expected to encounter.

  4. Vanessa martinez says:

    Hi, I think I have genital herpes…I’ll get tested tomorrow(blood test) but I have read that even if you’re infected your results might come back negative is that true???

  5. Vanessa says:

    Thanks for responding. My symptoms are small paper cuts and really itchy. Sex makes the itching worse if I don’t shower afterwards. He was itchy and had long paper cuts and it only comes back after we have sex. When I use a cleansing wash that helps with the ph balance it stops the itching but when my period comes symptoms come back. What do you think?

    • Dr. Kelly says:

      It’s hard to say, but it definitely could be herpes. If this has been going on for at least 3 months, than a blood test is more likely to give you an accurate reading. If it is herpes, it’s the friction of sex that is irritating the tissue and causing the virus to reactivate. The changes in our hormonal cycle can also contribute to an outbreak. One thing you could do is be to sure to use a personal lubricate during sex and make sure that it does not have nonoxydol-9 (N-9). Check out this article on sexy time guidelines http://pinktent.com/herpes-and-sexy-time-guidlines/. The other thing I would do is focus on rebuilding your immune system. We have a great 30 Day Program in our Foundations Course that can get you on the right track to healing. Check it out at http://pinktent.com/funnel/foundations-book.php.
      Live. Love. Thrive.
      Dr. Kelly

  6. David says:

    Dr. Kelly,
    I completely disagree with your recommendation not to usa a Lysine supplement daily. I got Herpes in 1975, and up to 1992 experienced approximately 3 outbreaks annually. I discovered Lysine to treat the symptoms of Herpes using a Holistic herbal guide. Since I started taking a daily Lysine supplement I have not had one outbreak. I also have had only 4 colds in the same te period. I credit the boost in my immune system to my daily Lysine supplement. Lysine is a very good friend.

  7. traveler says:

    Hi, I have been having trouble getting rid of an ob for about a month now. Its been horrible, the meds are not working and I just started taking lysine 3 days ago. I am desperate to feel healthy and normal again. I read that 2ooomg of lysine can fight off an ob. What do u think?

    • Dr. Kelly says:

      I think lysine is fabulous for an outbreak. However, I would also decrease the foods high in arginine in your diet. Do you have a healthy diet? Do you take supplements to support your immune function? The fact that you have had an outbreak for over a month tells me that your immunity is compromised. Our 30 Day Quickstart to success is an excellent module found in our Foundations Course to help you identify other triggers and to speed up your healing process.
      Live. Love. Thrive.
      Dr. Kelly

  8. Angela says:

    What is the relationship between L-Lysine and calcium absorption? I have a big concern about my parathyroid gland functionality and osteoporosis in my post menopausal body. Since taking L-Lysine for cold sores and Herpes Simplex I virus, my muscular/skeletal issues have improved! Is this due to the calcium absorption improvement benefits of supplementing my diet with L-Lysine? Long term, can this improve my parathyroid too??!! Dr. Kelly, please respond here. Thanks, Angela

  9. Spiderwoman says:

    I am new to this group. I am a 70-year old woman with Sjogren’s Syndrome, an autoimmune disease that compromises the body’s ability to fight off viruses. Consequently, as I age the Herpes 2 virus seems to be taking over my body–and my life!! I am nearly desperate to find a way to stop the never-ending attacks. I’m working with a physician and a naturopath and am on a once-daily dose of Famvir plus lysine supplements. I still have nearly daily outbreaks of itchy blisters and now, to my horror, I have developed extremely painful trigeminal neuralgia, which my MD says is “likely due to the herpes virus.”
    If anyone knows anything at all about how to boost the virus-fighting capacity of a compromised immune system, I would be grateful. At present, my naturopath has me taking a tincture of herbs that are well-known virus-fighting herbs….but they do not seem up to the task.
    Thank you!

    • MamaBear says:

      Hello! I replied because of our ages. It just shows this happens to everyone, regardless of age, status in life, etc. Back in the 70s or 80s, when I must’ve got HSV2, I didn’t know 1 thing about STD’s and I was too afraid to demand condoms and blood tests.(I don’t think there was a test til late 80s). I have read you can place whole milk directly on a sore and it helps. Look up New Age Oregano oil as something that is supposed to help and Coconut oil soothes. I wish you the very best ahead!

    • mshkg says:

      I have very frequent ob for over a decade…sometimes twice a week.. If I have it once a week I would be happy… I am in your age group and it really is depressing. I found out I am eating all the wrong foods…oatmeal, brown rice, blueberries etc. It is really hard to change but I am trying. It is especially difficult trying to explain to my friends when we go eat out that I cannot eat those food as none of my friends know. I have a platonic male friend and I am afraid to tell him. Few years ago I went to a determtogis and he did a culture on a blister and it came back negative but he still thinks it is herpes because I do have the antibodies. This month I have 4 lesions and I think I really need to get some antiviral medicine because it is driving me crazy. I am due for a colonoscopy and i cannot have lesions on my back. (that’s where I get them). I am also getting physical therapy for my lower back and I am running out of excuses of what they are. Does anyone have any suggestions or advice? Dr. Kelly??

  10. Yogaislove says:

    Hi Doctor Kelly,

    I have been recently diagnosed with HSV. I am very active. I’m a runner, weight lifter and I run obstacle course races. My concern is protein power. I don’t take it often but when I am in a pinch and after a long workout, my body is needing it. I’m also dairy intolerant so I’ve been using Vega Sport Protein (Vegan Plant based protein) for a while. In my recent research and reading this blog, I have discovered that protein supplements are triggers to OB. As I have only experienced an outbreak once as I was just diagnosed, I am wondering what your advice is to women that are active and are building lean muscle.

    When reading the label.. The amount of Arginine and Lysine as listed on the label is the same 1.78.

    Thank you

    • Dr. Kelly says:

      If the lysine and arginine content are the same, then they should help to cancel each other out. A diet high in arginine and low in lysine is more of a concern for someone who is having frequent outbreaks. Unless you start to have frequent outbreaks, I would not worry about using this protein powder.

      • Yogaislove says:

        Thank you! : )

        One more question as I’ve been doing research.. Since I am dairy free, I drink almond milk. I am concerned since almond milk is a part of my diet that this could potentially lead to future outbreaks… I’m really struggling and worry about this as I do not want to eliminate it from my diet. I usually use it in a smoothy or with my oatmeal.. which I will probably have to eliminate from my diet now.. 🙁

        Holistic eating has been a big part of my life for 10 years and I’m discovering foods that I do enjoy and that are a part of my diet already that I will have to eliminate (almond milk/butter, dates, oats to name a few). But my most concern is finding a milk alternative.

        If you have any suggestions for this that would also be great! Thank you

  11. Danielle says:

    Hi Dr. Kelly I hope you can help me. I’ve been diagnosed with herpes for 3 yrs now and I recently just got with my fiancé almost a year ago. I informed him about me having herpes right when we met. We’ve been having unprotected sex since we met and just a week ago he woke up with red spots all over his penis. He says theyre painless and rarely itch. I automatically assumed I gave him the virus so I gave him my valtrex pills (I know I shouldn’t have without a doctor consent) but I figured it would work. It’s now 2 weeks yesterday, and they’re gone but this one specific area on his head hasn’t gone away yet. Could he have herpes or something else?? We don’t have health insurance at this time otherwise I would of brought him in by now. I just bought 1000mg lysine and we’re both taking it now. We haven’t had sex since this happened to him so I’m not having an outbreak now. Your response would be soooo appreciated. Thank you for your time.

  12. Molly says:

    I got this a year ago from my previous boyfriend or so the doctor says when I was diagnosed. I refuse to accept that I have it. I don’t get outbreaks just sometimes a tingling or itching just before my period. I haven’t had anything in 2 years and just yesterday I felt some itching. I have been stressing a lot new position and finances and everything so maybe that’s the reason. When the doctor told me I was devastated and I cried because I know I was being careful and only have one sexual partner. I am 34 and I was to find that right guy, get married and have kids. I thank you for your help Dr. KELLY your information put me at ease and let’s me know that society blows this way out of proportion. I will apply your recommendations of goods to ear and I go to the gym to relieve my stress. Thank you so much and I look forward to your update.

  13. Stacy says:

    How long do you suggest taking lysine for? I was taking 1000 mg for a couple of days and seemed to feel better. So I stopped taking it but then I felt tingling coming back so I started taking it again. Thanks so much!

    • Dr. Kelly says:

      Some women take lysine daily. I, personally, recommend using it episodically or when you have herpes symptoms. If you have herpes symptoms, you can take up to 9000mg/day (not taken all at once of course). This high dosage is only to be used during outbreaks. (please check with your doctor before implementing this)

  14. Lisa Montalvo says:

    Hi – you mentioned Paleo Diet.. What are your thoughts about keto Diet? I have been on it for over year and recently diagnosed with HSV1. i am upset about this and i don’t understand why. Nuts is part of Keto Diet but it is not required. Mostly Meat, Cheese, Veggies (only that grows outside of ground) and Fats

    • Dr. Kelly says:

      I have not personally used the Keto diet so I am not as familiar with it. What I can tell you is that nuts are high in arginine and foods that are high in arginine can trigger a herpes outbreak. One of the tricks of managing herpes symptoms is to discover your unique triggers. Potential triggers could include foods high in arginine, hot temperatures and stress. If you want to learn more you can check out my book at http://www.PinkTent.com/book

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