Antiviral essential oils offer a way to help deal with some viral infections, including the herpes virus.
Herpes simplex is responsible for cold sores around the mouth (herpes simplex type 1) and genital herpes (herpes simplex type 2). Herpes zoster is responsible for causing chicken pox and shingles. Click here for studies that support the effects of antiviral essential oils.
Advanced Aromatherapy describes the effectiveness of essential oils against herpes and recommends the following blend:
Start by applying the blend undiluted to the affected area several times a day. As your skin starts to dry out, switch to using a blend of 90 percent carrier oil and 10 percent essential oil blend. If you touch the blisters with your hands, make sure you wash them thoroughly afterward to avoid spreading the virus.
Best results occur if your start applying oils at the first sign of an outbreak.
If you are looking for an essential oil found effective in medical studies for healing cold sores, the answer is melissa (lemon balm). However, melissa is quite expensive. Less costly essential oils for cold sores that also may help them heal include:
Dilute the essential oil in a carrier oil and apply to the cold sore several times a day.
To get the synergistic effects of several oils, try one of the following aromatherapy blends. For all of the following blends, combine the ingredients in a small, dark glass bottle. Apply to cold sore two or three times a day with a swab or cotton ball.
Note: You can also use this aromatherapy blend for shingles.
Source: Aromatherapy for Dummies
For shingles, The Healing Intelligence of Essential Oils recommends an equal blend of Ravintsara (Cinnamomum camphora) essential oil and Calophyllum inophyllum oil (also called Foraha, Tamanu, or Kamani oil). Apply the blend frequently to the lesions (four or five times the first day, decreasing frequency as the lesions start to heal).
Here's another way to use essential oils for shingles from Massage & Aromatherapy:
Puncture the vitamin E capsule and squeeze out the oil. Mix all ingredients together. Apply with cotton ball.
From the Essential Oils Desk Reference:
Apply 6 to 10 drops on affected area, back of neck, and down the spine one to three times a day.
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