First, the arginine-to-lysine ratio in nutrition appears to be a valid
approach to inhibiting HSV:
reports that yes, foods high in arginine can induce herpes, while
foods high in Lysine inhibit herpes.
Regarding the mix and/or ration of those two supplements (and this
pertains to oral ingestion): "Tissue culture studies have demonstrated
a beneficial effect on viral replication when the amino acid ratio of
arginine to lysine favors arginine. The opposite, preponderance of
lysine to arginine, suppresses viral replication and inhibits
cytopathogenicity of herpes simplex virus."
One thing that was clear from my research is the benefits of
low-arginine and high-lysine diets with regard to herpes. As you'll
see as you read on, whether that ratio extends to topical solutions --
well, that's still up for debate.
AROUSAL LOTIONS CONTAINING ARGININE:
The makers of the female arousal gel "Woman Zone," which contains
arginine, have this warning about their product:
"When should use of WomanZone be avoided?If there is any sign, or
concern about, an active genito-urinary infection (e.g. herpes,
I found similar disclaimers for other lotions containing arginine.
The November 2003 issue of "Women's Health Care: A Practical Journal
for Nurse Practitioners," contains this informative article, "Sex Rx:
When It Comes to Botanical Prosexual Preparations, Clinicians and
Consumers Beware!" written by Susan Kellogg-Spadt, MSN, CRNP, PhD. The
article has been reprinted at Qualilife Pharmaceutical's "Zestra"
From that article:
"Another group of prosexual products are the topical arousal
enhancement creams and oils. . . . Most of these products, including
Alura, Femore, and Vigel, contain some combination of the amino-acid
L-arginine and a menthol-type base. Although L-arginine, in oral form,
is a precursor of nitric oxide, which enhances genital vasodilation
and engorgement, *the drug in topical form has not been conclusively
proven to have the same bioavailability or effectiveness. In addition,
L-arginine supplementation has been associated with potentiation of
herpes simples virus (HSV)-1 or -2 outbreaks in women with known
histories of HSV infection.*
"The preceding warnings notwithstanding, a few well-researched,
effective botanicals for female sexual enhancement are available. One
such herbal supplement is ArginMax. Available commercially, this oral
blend of damiana, L-arginine, ginseng, and gingko biloba has undergone
well-controlled scientific trials, the published results of which
showed that, after 4 weeks, 73.5% of the ArginMax group improved in
satisfaction with their overall sex life, as compared with 37.2% of
the placebo group . . . . Of note, the product does contain
significant amounts of L-arginine; thus, *care should be taken by
women with a history of HSV infection.* "
Notice that caveat: "a history of HSV" appears to be the pivotal
factor regarding herpes. The implication being that the risk isn't
significant for women who don't have such a history.
Kellogg-Spadt goes on to recommend the product Zestra (which is why
Zestra re-printed this article at their site!):
"Zestra is a topical blend of botanical oils, including borage seed
oil, evening primrose oil, extract of angelica, extract of coleus, and
antioxidants that are rated as GRAS (generally recognized as safe) by
the FDA.(4) The product has undergone a small but impressive
placebo-controlled scientific clinical trial for efficacy, which is of
particular note because the FDA does not require this type of rigorous
validation for botanical preparations. . . .Results of the trial were
published in the peer-reviewed 'Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy.' "
For more information on Zestra, see the results of studies performed
by Zestra's manufacturer QualiLife Pharmaceuticals, Inc., at:
THE EFFECTS OF LYSINE:
See the March 2002 article "Lysine - amino acid against herpes,"
written by journalist Serge Kreutz, at Arginine Net.com:
"So far, supplementation of l-lysine is one of the best options
available for the treatment of herpes simplex virus infections,
especially oral forms."
Yale University's online "Health Library" reports on Lysine's benefits:
And its effectiveness against herpes:
"Most research on lysine has been done on people with cold sores or on
groups that include both cold sores and genital herpes sufferers.
However, some evidence exists that supplemental lysine may be
effective in the prevention and treatment of genital herpes. In one
preliminary survey, 81% of people with HSV infections (including
genital herpes) reported lysine was effective for reducing recurrences
and shortening healing time in amounts averaging about 1,000 mg per
The "Forces of Nature Information, 100% Natural Certified Organic
Treatments" Web site has this article,
"Lysine and L-Lysine Treatment for genital herpes and oral herpes," at:
LYSINE & ARGININE RATIO:
This is where it all gets so %$#*&@ vague and conflicting!
"Arginine Research Conducted by Dr. Ann de Wees Allen," who is Chief
of Biomedical Research at the Glycemic Research Institute, found at:
"Improperly formulated L-arginine formulas increase the growth and
replication of HSV-1 (herpes simplex virus)
Arginine-Lysine antagonism: Arginine and Ornithine compete for common
transport system with L-Lysine
Lysine competes with L-arginine to cross blood-brain barrier
Lysine, an analog of arginine, antagonizes the muscle growth-promoting
action of arginine
*Arginine and lysine may not be orally ingested together in the same matrix*
Dr. de Wees Allen reiterates that combining these two supplements
isn't wise, the article "L-Arginine Cautions & Contraindications":
"Do NOT take L-arginine with L-lysine. These two aminos compete with
each other to cross the blood-brain barrier."
Some Dissenting Views:
Re: the ratio of arginine and lysine in foods and supplements: "PDR
Health's" report on L-lysine:
"Proteins of the herpes simplex virus are rich in L-arginine, and
tissue culture studies indicate an enhancing effect on viral
replication when the amino acid ratio of L-arginine to L-lysine is
high in the tissue culture media. *When the ratio of L-lysine to
L-arginine is high, viral replication and the cytopathogenicity of
herpes simplex virus have been found to be inhibited.*"
The makers of the supplement "Arginine Plus":
state (or, at least, strongly imply) that their product is safe for
herpes sufferers because it contains counteracting L-Glycine:
"L-arginine without the correct synergists and co-factors or an
improperly prepared L-arginine formula can cause reactivation of the
herpes virus as well as the stimulation of peroxynitrate." At the
bottom of that page see the disclaimer:
"*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug
Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure,
or prevent any disease."
From WebMD.com's discussion of Viagara, "Natural Alternatives to
Viagra with [Dr.] Ellen Kamhi:
"If you have a problem with viruses, for instance, herpes, you
wouldn't want to take arginine during a breakout because arginine can
increase the reproduction of viruses, just like it can increase our
own reproduction. One way to offset that side effect is to use another
amino acid along with the arginine. That amino acid is L-Lysine. This
will offset the viral-enhancing effect of arginine." (Unfortunately,
the doctor didn't provide a ratio guideline.)
From what I can gather (and I'm not a scientist):
1): There's been little research re: the efficacy of the ratio in
topical applications. As noted above, some research data is
conflicting: some experts feel lysine can counteract arginine, while
others stress that arginine and lysine should never be taken in
combination, due to the "cross blood-brain" concern.
2): My personal conclusion from my research is: Anyone with a history
of herpes shouldn't use a cream that contains arginine -- regardless
of the other ingredients in that product -- because medical science
just doesn't seem to have reached a consensus on this matter.
Yes, it is POSSIBLE that the correct formulation of arginine and
lysine in topical solutions may be safe for someone with HSV, but I
can't find specific parameters for that ratio, let alone conclusive
Since this matter seems to be in the early stages of formal, clinical
study, I'd advise anyone with HSV concerns to play it safe and just
use arginine-free topical treatments.
Besides Zestra, I found some other arginine-free lotions:
"Heat Me Playful Passion Cream":
Sidenote: I discovered that supplements containing ornithine, like
arginine, are contraindicated for people with HSV.
"topical AND female AND arginine AND lysine"
"topical AND female AND arousal AND arginine AND lysine"
"topical arginine herpes"
"topical arginine herpes Lysine"
"topical arginine lysine ratio"
" 'lysine negates arginine' AND topical"
"topical AND ratio AND arginine AND lysine"
"creams AND ratio AND arginine AND lysine"
"topical AND arousal AND ratio AND arginine AND lysine AND herpes"
"arousal creams arginine herpes"
"arousal lotions arginine herpes"
"arginine contraindicated herpes"
"arousal lotions safe herpes"
"'arousal ointments' AND lysine AND arginine"
I hope my research is of help to you. Please post a "Request For
Clarification" if you need help navigating any of the above links, or
if you need me to clarify any of the information I've given you.