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Let’s talk Lysine (and veganism)...anyone??

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Hi all,

New to the site and to HSV. Was just diagnosed this week with HSV2. As background I’m a 42 year old female and I’ve been a vegan for 16 years, vegetarian for 10 years prior to.

Not only am I taking in all that comes with this news of herpes as a forever part of my life going forward and just beginning to see the end of my first OB (that SUCKED!!), but I’m also devouring info on triggers and ways to reduce recurrences with (and potentially without) medications.

I’ve been reading a lot about Lysine and Arginine intakes. Not only am I bummed that my chocolate intake needs to go down (I mean really— we should at least be given chocolate with the rest of what we’re dealing with here! :) ) but I am finding that a vegan diet is literally one of the worst matches to this new health reality.

So I’m wondering if there are other vegans on here who have found ways to balance the arginine intake? My doctor shared a great resource that lets me compare lysine and arginine intakes for various veggies and protein sources, but that’s mostly reinforcing my concerns about high arginine intake— and bye bye to almond milk :(

I’ve started taking a lysine supplement (1000mg 3x per day) and I’m seeking a nutritionist who can help me work through some of this, but I’d welcome input from this forum.


Plant based eaters?? I’d love thoughts, ideas, recipies, anything... I’m new to ALL of this!


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  • 2 weeks later...

I am pro lysine all the way; especially during ob's. They seemed to make a difference which means cut back on chocolate,red wine and few others and bump up the intake on legs....Arginine is the enemy. As lang as your intake is higher in Lysine, your ahead of the game....Kind of like calorie counting....

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Thanks seastar. I’m taking a lysine supplement now and started charting foods with higher lysine to arginine ratio. I’ve also started a meals and snack list for high lysine vegan eats that I can refer back to as time goes on. I also found a vegan nutritionist who has agreed to help me map some of this out and assist with considering appropriate levels of supplements, etc... my hope is combined I’ll find a way to ease recurrences without having to change my otherwise healthy lifestyle.

But while I can find a range of charts online with info on lysine to arginine ratios, many have conflicting information (pumpkin seeds are good,pumpkin seeds are bad; quinoa is good, quinoa is bad, almonds are terrible, almond skins help...). It also seems like every body reacts differently (would be amazing if mine was okay with chocolate). So just really confused.


I’m still so new at all of this...been only two weeks since first outbreak and diagnosis. I know I’ll eventually figure this stuff out, but for now, I’m doing the best I can to stay afloat and practice self care.

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  • 2 weeks later...


I got diagnosed in may this year and I'm also vegan. I haven't really changed my diet apart from nuts. I've not tried them yet since being diagnosed but I'm going to soon. I'm eating lots of seeds though like chia seed, flaxseed etc and they have not caused an outbreak. I still eat dark chocolate everyday and this hasn't caused an outbreak. The only thing that has so far is too much caffeine. I take 1000mg of lysine a day and other supplements like olive leaf extract, b vitamins and echinacea. I would just experiment with your food and see what works and what doesn't as I think the most important thing is to stay healthy!

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I was recently diagnosed in May (after 3 months of what I thought was a recurring yeast infection), and have been vegan since January. It’s left me questioning everything - like have I had this for years and only started showing symptoms in March because I went vegan? Or (more likely but impossible to confirm) did I get it from my “rebound” partner who pressured me into not using condoms (my own fault still) and now still refuses to get tested?  I seem to get monthly outbreaks no matter what I eat, and no matter what anti-virals and supplements I take. And the worst part is my ex of 5 years wants to try and work things out. And I can’t find a way to tell him...

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On 7/19/2018 at 2:35 AM, JeffH said:

Vegan here too and it sucks. I don’t know if my incessant (but mild) outbreaks are partially due to diet. But I’m not going to change my morals because of this.

Good for you JeffH. I ended up finding a great nutritionist who I’m working with on teasing out trigger foods and good/bad eats with the vegan and HSV combo. She had LOTS of great info to share including reliable resources for lysine-arginine ratios, supplements, and what to let go of in terms of stress on the food choices. Happy to share info, feel free to message me.

ive also started a list of go-to meals and foods that are high lysine. Finding my way slowly on this, but learning more and more all the time.

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 7/26/2018 at 11:36 AM, Sunshine75 said:

Good for you JeffH. I ended up finding a great nutritionist who I’m working with on teasing out trigger foods and good/bad eats with the vegan and HSV combo. She had LOTS of great info to share including reliable resources for lysine-arginine ratios, supplements, and what to let go of in terms of stress on the food choices. Happy to share info, feel free to message me.

ive also started a list of go-to meals and foods that are high lysine. Finding my way slowly on this, but learning more and more all the time.

Do you have any of those reliable resources for lysine-arginine ratios? I'm transitioning to vegetarianism, Herpes is my number 1 reason for being cautious about veganism as I really do not want to go back to the monthly outbreaks as I was having previous to this year.

I've started supplementing 1000mg Lysine but would love to see reliable arginine/lysine info if you can share anything! 

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@bdub79 happy to share! And private message if you want some recipes, etc.. but vegetarian vs. vegan makes a big difference on lysine intake front. With dairy included in your diet you can better balance the lysine-arginine levels. If you go vegan or have long been vegan (like me) and aren’t willing to give that up for H, then it’s a bit more complex.

For starters, the most reliable lysine-arginine charts we found were in the USDA food composition database: https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/nutrients/index

selecr first nutrient (lysine— almost at the bottom—past all the numbers) second nutrient is arginine (comes after lysine on the pull down. Then either click go if you want the mega list OR choose a food category and go.

lots of stuff on here. I’m growing a side list of regular ingredients that I can’t find on here and will have nutritionist help find those values elsewhere. 

The core aspect of the Nutritionist’s advice was that you have to weigh the benefit of the foods nutrient value in your diet with the potential for triggering or contributing to viral load. That simply cutting out high arginine foods from an otherwise healthy diet doesn’t make sense. Especially if that diet needs those foods to get adequate protein. Having a solid nutrient rich and healthy diet helps your body overall— including your immune system which will help build anti-bodies for the virus. So it’s about balance.

Moderation in general is key. This can’t control your life. So don’t let diet therapy control life.

finding specific trigger foods for outbreaks will be most helpful to note and then consider eliminating only those items. The rest can then be balanced—to some extent but not to an extreme. The idea is to attempt a diet that over the course of the day(s) and with supplements can boost immune system, provide key nutrients, and keep lysine ratios higher than maybe they were before monitoring. she basically said let go of the stress about specific values and calculations to monitor balance go— but be mindful of them so you can make good choices— go for higher lysine eats when you can: I.e. oat milk over almond milk; apples over arranges; black beans over chick peas; summer squash over winter squash; etc... but more than anything— eat a healthy, Whole Foods, nutrient rich diet, get rest, and minimize unnecessary stress.

and on supplement front, for me it’s: 1000mg of lysine 2x a day; a b-complex; vitamin d drops; a multi-vitamin; and 500mg of vitamin c with bioflavonoids 2x a day; and a probiotic (I’m also taking the daily valacylovir).

hope that helps. Good luck in your transition toward vegetarian or vegan! And if you pick up other good tips along the way, I’m all ears!

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  • 5 weeks later...

Thanks for all the great info Sunshine, it's really helpful, and sorry for the super late response - went overseas for work and life has been a whirlwind since!!

I am doing ok so far, having introduced Lysine supplementation in addition to my daily anti-viral. Although I have been really cautious about the high arginine foods which I know many vegetarians/vegans rely on heavily so that will be the next phase of my experimentation - how much of those can I include!

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  • 3 years later...

Hey folks, I'm vegan and I've recently contracted HSV2 as well. Since I caught the virus in late August, I've been having continual symptoms and outbreaks. I think that I contracted it both orally and genitally. I really need help, support and guidance from some other vegans who are going through the same situation. I'm thinking that I might have to give up my diet to find more balance in the Lysine and Arginine ratio. However, environmentally, ethically, and spiritually I can't bring myself to start consuming animal products again. I've also been really allergic to dairy since I was younger, so that doesn't really seem like an option.

@Sunshine75 @bdub79 @seastar @Gilly77 @Anon85 @JeffH

If y'all folks have some suggestions, resources (lists of vegan foods to consume or avoid), or want to just chat via Zoom or Skype, I'd appreciate it. I'm really struggling with this new reality. I could use some support from people who have been experiencing this for longer than I have and have found ways to navigate this horrible, unfortunate, and uncomfortable disease.

Thank you so much in advance for your support. I really appreciate it!

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Hello, @TheBomb

I hope you are well! 

This is a great topic of conversation, as many people have asked and wonder about the correlation of diet and lysine intake and outbreak occurrences and severity.  

I am also vegan, and have been vegan for about 11 years (since I was about 11 years old). I have GHSV-1, and have had it since March of 2019. Since my first huge outbreak, I have only had two other outbreaks, which were so minor I did not take my antiviral and just let them go away on their own, and for one of them I just put a little dot of natural lysine cream on the sore to stop chafing and burning. 

Every person is different. What you could do is do an experiment of sorts. First, you need baseline data. This is data that is what you will use as the comparison amount. Baseline data can be taken starting now. Write down how many outbreaks you've had since outbreak 1. Write if you had any symptoms without outbreaks, too, such as itching or burning. 

then, for a month or two, take notes (daily log) of symptoms and outbreaks while staying vegan and incorporating more lysine-rich vegan foods into your diet. Obviously, don't overdo it, since anything in the extreme isn't good for the body! Some foods include: tofu, soy milk, lentils, beans, and avocados. Then, take out high arginine foods (such as chocolate... but honestly I eat vegan chocolate chips almost every night straight out of the bag 😂). Also, document your mood and energy levels as well as physical changes, too! 

If you are showing improvement, yay! Stick with the vegan diet, just stay conscious of your lysine intake, and if needed you could even take a lysine supplement and stay conscious of foods high in arginine. 

Let's say you are still having regular outbreaks after this (I pray not!!) Then, for one-two months, incorporate high lysine non-vegan foods such as eggs into your diet. Cage-free, organic eggs are a more ethical choice. Again, log your mental and physical changes. 

if things still aren't moving in the right direction, try dishes such as sardines or cod. Line-caught organic fish are sustainable options. Again, log your mental and physical changes. 

You said you are allergic to milk/dairy, so refrain from this, since the allergic reactions could stress the body more and actually possibly cause more outbreaks, as stress is a trigger! 

The only thing with incorporating non-vegan foods after being vegan for a while, especially a long time, is that it may cause some digestion issues, as your body isn't used to eating eggs or meat. Also, if.youvebeen strictly vegan for years, your body can actually develop intolerances to non-vegan foods, or allergic reactions to them, which is really interesting! I actually developed a severe anaphylaxis response to dairy after being vegan for a few years and then trying dairy again for the first time. 

Before starting your dietary changes, talk to your doctor about it. Tell your doctor you plans and make a plan with them; perhaps checking in in-person once a month while trying the food experiment. Also, make sure you ask them about appropriate portions of lysine to consume for someone of your height and weight and age, and possible impacts of lysine and arginine levels of too high or too low. 

May you be blessed with health and happiness, and thank you for being conscious to animals and the planet!! 🐄🌻🐖🌏

-- Grace



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