1. I get occasional cold sores, what do you suggest?
The best that can be suggested is HF2, painted over the site twice daily from the earliest signs of an outbreak. The initial results are very promising. Also being tested is the HB series, but these are applied 2-3 times/week to prevent outbreaks and this is not justified for occasional outbreaks.
2. I've just been diagnosed with HSV-2 (genital HSV) and I'm really upset. What should I do?
Try to remain calm and not let it dominate your life. Many organisations downplay the impact of genital HSV infections because the psychological effects can sometimes exceed the physical ones. It's true that it's a horrible disease which can be extremely painful. Find a sympathetic doctor if you can. Talking to the Herpes Viruses Association (hva.org.uk) can make you feel better, and help you over the worst, even if some of what they tell you is not exactly true.
Valaciclovir (Valtrex, VCV) is the usual treatment. Valaciclovir is an esterified version of acyclovir (ACV), and more efficiently metabolised in the liver. This means that maybe 60% of the ACV reaches your bloodstream, instead of maybe 40%. Before acyclovir there was nothing; doctors were taught "We can't treat a virus." So thank your lucky stars that you live in an age when antiviral drugs exist.
Herpesviruses seem to be particularly adapted to social animals, usually being transmitted by physical contact. Horses are social animals, with five or six equine herpesviruses, and infection can be so serious that the animal has to be destroyed. They even have a sexually transmitted form. This is why the psychological effects can be so severe: HSV impedes intimacy, and humans are social animals. Intimacy is very important to us.
3. Why are herpesvirus infections incurable?
This is a big question, and deserves a longish answer.
The first thing that needs to be appreciated is that the idea of diseases being cured is quite new. In olden times people walked around with tuberculosis and all sorts of other infections, relying on folk remedies and the like to alleviate the symptoms. At the time, this was normal. It was only with the advent of chemotherapy around 1900 that pathogens were targeted directly.
Even so, chemotherapy generally only helps the immune system. A drug might knock out, say, 60% of the pathogens, lightening the load, and the immune system mops up the rest.
Herpesviruses (herpesviridae) have escaped effective treatment because of their ability to remain latent. Simply put, the virus "goes to sleep" tucked away out of reach of the immune system. There are different aspects of latency however.
4. What does HSV look like?
When in sufficient quantity to be visible, HSV is a clear liquid, like water. This is because of its small size. Even though HSV is a large virus, it is still so small that it does not affect light. Hence it appears transparent.
5. I registered for the trial, and received the preparation, which I've been using. However I've not made any reports, or maybe only one. Could I have some more please?
No, sorry. These are trials, not treatment. Without reports all the work is for nothing.
6. How long do the trials last?
As long as you stick with it.
7. Can I send reports by email?
Please don't. An email is fine for a specific query though. There's also an optional comment box at the end of the reporting sequence.
Any trial must involve a lot of people to achieve valid results, and the reports have to be aggregated. It's impossible to process emails statistically.
8. I had an outbreak before but forgot to report. Now I'm using the Target preparation again, how do I report this?
The way to do it is to log-in and make a report "Have used" relating to the past outbreak. Get all the way to the end, then click REPORT again and make another report making selections as they relate to your current outbreak. You should not have to re-enter your log-in details again.
9. I've found that Acyclovir tablets help reduce the discomfort and duration of an outbreak. Would it disrupt the trial if I take this alongside applying the preparation?
Ideally, trial participants should not use anything else at all, so that any positive results obtained are unequivocably due to the Target preparation. It is most important not to use any other topical preparation, or things like sunblock, simultaneously. The advice is, save the Acyclovir (or similar) tablets as a last resort. If you do resort to it, mention this in the comments box of your report.
10. Are you qualified to run these trials?
Last time I looked I had 125 academic citations, most of these for a trial I led in 1994 of an experimental treatment for opiate addiction. That's a very respectable tally of citations, in fact well above average for a scientist. To tackle something like this you have to be a bit unorthodox. So by these metrics I'm superbly qualified.
|Simon Sheppard at the bench, September 2016|
11. I've just got my first cold sore, what should I do?
Treat it with HF2 2-4x daily, starting as soon as you can. It's little recognised but first episodes seem to be the easiest to treat. It may be that the infection spreads after this, becoming further established. Two people on the HF2 trial used it on their initial cold sore outbreak and reported several months later that they had had no more. This is certainly not hard evidence, but could be typical.
12. Why HF2?
HF2 (currently settled at version HF2C) uses Melissa, which is known to be beneficial, though generally not effective enough. HF2 is a complex formulation using it, so advanced that it's probably the best Melissa preparation for cold sores in the world.
What is often not appreciated is that there are many thousands of antiviral substances. Fairy washing-up liquid is antiviral. It's not just the ingredients in a formulation that matter, but delivering them to the right place, where they can do their work. Plus there are all the toxicity issues of course.
13. Are the Target preparations dangerous?
No. Nothing is ever completely without risk, but the risks associated with the Target preparations should only involve allergies and unusual adverse reactions.
It's a matter of cost and benefit, ultimately. Suppose you were dying, with 100% certainty, from some internal condition and you were offered an operation which had only 50% chance of success. The choice between 100% chance of dying and 50% chance of dying is pretty obvious. On the other hand, no medic would offer a dangerous procedure for a relatively minor condition.
There's a story in the annals of medical history somewhere of a surgeon who died needing a quite routine operation because he couldn't bear to go under the knife himself! People aren't always rational.
Suppose (purely theoretically) that I discovered a substance that was hugely effective against HSV, but it had significant side-effects or toxicity. Then the volunteers testing it would be explicitly warned of the risks and probably asked to sign a release. Nothing used so far has come close to that risk threshold.
14. What do you think about a cure?
Please see the Ever a Cure? page.