Relaxation Techniques For Managing Herpes

The Stress Response and HSV


Herpes simplex viruses (HSV) are a group of highly prevalent and infectious disease agents. After initial inoculation, this group of viruses characteristically lay dormant in the nervous system, and may recur periodically throughout life. Suppressive therapy via antivirals is the only present conventional treatment, as there is presently no known cure.  Research suggests that treatments geared towards addressing the psychosomatic nature of the virus are even more promising as there are a multitude of interactions that occur between the nervous system and the immune system. Thus, there is a direct correlation between stress, the nervous system and immune dysfunction. Cognitive restructuring and and relaxation techniques directed at remediating the stress response have been clinically proven to increase resistance to reactivation of herpes simplex viruses. 

In addition to the physical discomfort associated with the symptoms of the virus, those living with the disease also experience significant psychological, emotional and social distress, all of which drastically compromise and impair immune function. There is a plethora of research backing the association between stress and susceptibility to HSV with strong evidence correlating the efficacy of psychological interventions (such as cognitive behavioral therapy and relaxation techniques) to reverse the effects of the stress response, improve immune function and reduce susceptibility to HSV infection and recurrence. 

 Through active engagement with cognitive behavioral therapeutic techniques as well as relaxation modalities, negative coping mechanisms and dysfunctional cognitive and personality characteristics can be addressed and altered. Over time these techniques are proven to counter the physical, mental and emotional ramifications of the stress response, thereby improving immune function and modulating resistance to the virus.  

Avoiding life stressors is not realistic, as life in inherently stressful. However, developing healthy coping mechanisms, improving mood regulation, identifying maladjusted personality traits and improving quality of life indices are all proven means to regulate immune function.  

What was once just a postulation is now proven to be a direct causal link: stress increases susceptibility to HSV infection and recurrence. Stress triggers the release of neuroendocrine hormones that are proven to compromise immune system function. However, it is likely the way in which one copes and manages their stress versus the actual frequency of stressful life events that either enhances or compromises one's immune system. Cognitive behavioral therapy and relaxation techniques such as guided imagery, meditation, yoga, tai chi among others are viable means to counter psychological stress that triggers mental, emotional, physical and spiritual imbalance. Here at ViruLogic we are committed to developing personalized treatments models that incorporate education around stress management, relaxation techniques, nutritional support and herbal medicine as complementary modalities to prescription antiviral therapy.