Holistic Herpes Newsletter Volume Two, Edition 4

Stigma Buster

The notion that there is a huge stigma against people with herpes is probably the biggest and most harmful myth in the universe of the numerous myths and lies about herpes and one that I vehemently reject. Most people are severely mis-educated or uneducated about sexual health and that is an issue, but most people are also kind and tolerant and understanding when given a chance. Of course there is always a small minority of idiots out there, there always has been and there always will be but they are no more than ten percent of the population.

People experience herpes stigma largely because they stigmatize themselves. They buy into the notion that once you have herpes you ought to feel ashamed, dirty and compromised. You can either accept or reject this, it’s completely your choice. I choose the path of empowerment and holistic health.

If you accept yourself then you have all the acceptance you need. And no one can take away that self-acceptance with a nasty remark or snigger. If you truly love yourself then you need never live in fear of rejection by another or others for when one door is closed another is always opened.

There is no scarcity with true love only abundance. And no love will ever be truer than the love you should have for yourself.

All the love you need is inside of you, all the affirmation you need is inside of you, if you don’t love yourself you will never find the love you need in another person or a place or a thing.  Don’t go on a wild goose chase, there is no hiding from the truth, there is no hiding from yourself

Answer the question honestly: do you love yourself?

If you say you do, then how would someone who loves themselves act?

Don’t look to others for affirmation, affirm yourself.

christopher scipio
herbalist/holistic viral specialist
‘What is it?’ I thought…

bent over in the ladies restroom, trying to remain my balance despite a feverish weakness. The stinging, burning sensation that seemed to affect all skin and nerves between the pubis and pelvic bones was impossible to deny; something was seriously wrong, and my muscles, nerves, and reproductive and urinary system were all affected. Pain radiating from these areas made sitting, standing, walking—any movement—excruciating. Dreading the second-by-second discomfort that would come with ambulating to a doctor, I pushed my shoulders back took a deep weary but determined sigh. I knew I needed to get medical help so I started the trek to the University Student Health Center. Already battling symptoms of a head cold and my menses during Finals Week during my junior year, I held out hope for a quick cure and a return to normalcy. But, after an examination from an unusually quiet and concerned looking nurse, I prepared for a different reality. The examining nurse hurriedly left the room, barely pausing to say “Hold on a minute; we need a doctor for this…”.
‘ What…? Is it that bad?’, I thought. The nurse returned with a gynecologist who closely viewed signs of the outbreak, then told the nurse without addressing me, “Yes, this is a classic case”. ‘Case of what?’ I thought. But before I worked up the gumption to ask they left.

Later the nurse returned and explained, “These are classic symptoms of genital herpes, an STD”. She read the confusion on my face. My head was spinning—How? When? Who? Please heal it! I can’t allow my partner to get this….it’s terrible!

“Do you know about Herpes?” she asked.  She explained the basics of STDs- but I was mystified- how could I have gotten this from my partner? From my two past partners? Then there was a very tense pause, and she explained “Its chronic- Herpes is something you have for the rest of your life”. Now my head was really spinning, and as the silence lengthened I could no longer keep from expressing my feelings-despite my discomfort and trust in the health center. Tears were beginning to form…I was nineteen. How could I have contracted it after only having been intimate with two people?
“Unfortunately, there isn’t much that can be done once you have an outbreak—other than prescribe medicine that will lessen the pain and reduce the chance the virus replicates.” Lidocaine and a three week regime of taking antivirals four times a day were the prescription.

With the pain-numbing medicine, I was able to physically manage the outbreak. But psychologically, I was wiped out for a month or two after being diagnosed. I felt shame, discomfort, anxiety, and tremendous disgust around my body and sexuality. Though internally I felt inconsolable, extremely sensitive, self-conscious and emotionally vulnerable, I isolated myself from my good friends and partner because the subject matter was stigmatizing and uncomfortable for everyone. I had to tell my partner. I did so right after finding out, while still painful systems and feeling completely defeated. I loved my partner fiercely, and wanted to protect them from any harm—even though I feared being left because of the risk of transmission, and loss of attraction to me.  But my partner—who had had an STD at one time or another—was not stigmatized, and asserted love and commitment to me. “Well, I want to be with you”, he said. “If I get it, I get it—it’s not like it’s fatal or anything”.

Of course my partner was right. I was unspeakably grateful for his decision to stay with me and see my body and our intimacy as something beautiful—despite how I was feeling. Their unconditional love and this desire to be intimate was difficult for me to accept because I felt diseased and unattractive. I worried every time we were intimate he would contract herpes—that once having a first outbreak that I wouldn’t be forgiven;  that herpes itself could drive us apart.

Over time these feelings dissipated completely. I found that with more stability, financial security, and healthy habits I could fend off ensuing outbreaks once I noticed prodromal symptoms—for me, dull soreness and numbness of my hamstrings, buttocks, and hips and intermittent stabbing or tingling nerve pains below the waist. I went online and researched tips for preventing outbreaks—ones I could control, without having to pay a doctor to prescribe heavy drugs. Whenever symptoms surfaced, I took an inventory: What did I drink over the past three days? What foods and how often was I eating? How much sleep did I get over the last several nights? Did I do too many physically or emotionally intense things in a row, without a break?
Just eighteen months after my first outbreak, I was living a virtually symptom-free life. I was able to work out, hike, garden, go out, stay up late dancing, take road trips, and have good sex without any reminder of the herpes virus. I ended up having to make some long-term lifestyle changes—which ended up being the best things I’ve done for my health and my sanity. I learned to manage my anxiety and mood with counseling, meditation and positive thinking. I began learning to be aware of my body’s needs, and put my health and wellbeing before my job, or the demands and expectations of others. As a result, I was pain-free and—and perhaps just as importantly, shame-free—for about seven years. On average, I would still have small three to four-day outbreaks every three months. I noticed asymptomatic  shedding once every one or two months before menses. But all this became as manageable as the common cold without any of the psychological affects it initially had.

Recently, my life was shaken by a nexus of three life changing events:  relocating to new state—far from family and friends, enrolling in an accelerated 10-month graduate school program while also facing the dissolution of my relationship/marriage to my partner. The stress and resulting emotional fatigue weakened my ability to fend off herpes and I found myself affected by consecutive, seemingly unending herpes outbreaks that began to take an emotional toll. With the rigors of graduate school and the inability to rest as much as my body needed me to, I relied heavily on counseling, close friendships, positive thinking and nutrition, but also began using antivirals and heavy doses of L-Lysine to try to fend off herpes’ hold. It seemed like the harder I fought with the virus, the more persistent it was in returning; and got so bad I started ignoring my body’s messages from me.  As many of us do all the time, I powered through the upheaval, trying to detach myself from bodily pains while addressing mental or other emotional challenges.

With my Master’s degree in hand, and my life slowly returning to sane and spiritually-nurturing pace, I was finally able to address my health. Though I had been taking conventional, heavy medicines to try to curb my outbreaks for ten months—my body had not healed and my immune system seemed weaker than ever.  That’s when I picked up “Making Peace with Herpes”—the only book I could find that takes a naturopathic and spiritual approach to managing herpes.

Reading “Making Peace with Herpes” helped me see that my physical health and managing herpes is about being at peace and compassionately caring for my body, my sexuality, and my relationships. As I result, I felt empowered to reject the heavy drugs—conventional western medicine—that I knew were changing how my body naturally functioned and that I’d been more and more reluctant to use. I began to trust my ability to heal myself—not just from herpes—but from other dis-ease as well. I made decisions, changed my lifestyle, and adjusted my beliefs to cultivate peace in my life. I began choosing loving, deeply-personal and natural approaches to my health—and invested in Acupuncture, and a gym membership instead of heavy conventional chemical compounds that are unnatural and corporate-owned. I saw my body heal after one week of drinking medicinal tea made of Christopher’s immune draught, and by applying his red marine algae gel topically. I was—am still amazed—at the efficacy of these naturopathic remedies, that resulted after only one consultation (mind you—the most thorough and personalized health consultation I’d ever had for any health issue). I am once again unaffected by chronic or severe herpes symptoms, and I credit my shift from unnatural conventional management of herpes to a holistic health practices and use natural remedies. Because of the peace this shift has given me, I encourage others to do so as well.

Though I never would have believed it when I was first diagnosed and was experiencing my first outbreak, I have come to value what having herpes has taught me: it has taught me how integrated our body’s system and our health is with our emotional health and our lifestyles; that our health and  wellbeing must be achieved by actively cultivating love and peace for ourselves; and that we are one of millions of super-awesome life forms that have been the gift of life, and the ability to adapt and coexist peaceably. I hope that others have similarly positive and healing realizations. May our bodies, minds and spirits find true health and healing!
28, San Francisco, CA

Yoga Shift

Six years ago, when I was first diagnosed with genital herpes, I read Christopher Scipio’s book, “Making Peace with Genital Herpes,” and, inspired by both the delivery and the content of this publication, I contacted him for further advice and information. Shortly thereafter, I ordered some of his medicinal herbs to treat frequent outbreaks and boost my ailing immune system. He sent instructions with my medicine in the form of a written protocol that stated firmly that in addition to using the antiviral gel and medicine herbs, daily yoga practice was highly recommended. In fact, it was more than recommended. Christopher insisted that I could not expect real results in the form of long-term health and healing without implementing yoga into my daily routine. He was only suggesting a minimum of 20 minutes a day for optimum health, but I scoffed at the notion. Herpes had already demanded so much of my life, my time, and physical and mental energy. I had to change my diet, take a regimen of unusual herbs, do the mental work of accepting the permanence of the virus, disclose to potential partners, and change my sexual habits. I was resentful of my condition and lacking the desire to commit to this new discipline. I refused to accept that Christopher’s advice had purpose and intention as valuable as his other recommendations. I decided instead to return to pharmaceutical anti-virals to deal suppress my outbreaks and I gave way to habits that are difficult to share.

Like millions of Americans, I struggle with chronic emotional and mental health issues. I am no stranger to anxiety, insomnia, and mood swings. They’ve led me to self medicate with everything from alcohol to marijuana to nightly doses of Benadryl. I am no stranger to addiction. I’ve fought and won hard battles with prescription painkillers, benzodiazapines, muscle relaxants, and sleeping pills. For years I have relied heavily upon substances to alleviate everything from frequent headaches to chronic yeast infections, from acute muscle spasms to panic attacks. If there were a pill for it, I would take it. I would take it desperate for a quick solution. It wasn’t for lack of awareness. I simply told myself that I didn’t have the time for the kind of self-care and preventative measures required for true health. I am a single mom with too many bills, too many PTA meetings, too many part-time jobs, too many college courses. I had too many people vying for my time, energy and support. Who had time for silly things like breathing and stretching?

I wish it hadn’t taken me this long to get real with myself. To accept and understand that it is me and only me who is responsible for my health and well-being. That self-love requires far more action and way less excuses. And that yoga could offer me the long-term solution not only to my frequent outbreaks, but to my anxieties and addictions great and small. Does it sound like an exaggeration? If I were the reader, I sure would think so. Yoga seems so passive. It seems so simple. So optional. Well, I certainly cannot speak for all humans, although I would like to believe that there are humans much like myself in dire need of real strength and healing that would benefit from its powers. So, I wanted to share with all of you just how profoundly my life has shifted since I made yoga a part of my daily life. I want to share with great enthusiasm and amazement that not only has it improved my posture and self-confidence, strengthened my back and core, and provided relief from physical and emotional pain and stress, it has provided me with a daily dose of spiritual inspiration. While I have yet to delve deep into the ancient spiritual practice of yoga, I can say with great certainty that connecting with the breath and with the present moment are profoundly powerful practices with a wealth of health benefits. When you really start to care for yourself, you begin to feel better in general. And the better you feel, the more likely you are to care. It’s a beautiful cycle, a positive cycle.

It’s been easier for me to choose healthy, alkaline foods. After a practice, after I have had the time to feel my own strengths and weaknesses, search for balance, and tap into emotional pain deeply in need of release, the last thing I want to do is eat processed food, or have a drink. I feel good. And I worked for that feeling. I made the time to maintain my body, and in the process I managed to nurture my spirit and mind. What resulted are baby steps in all the right directions. By taking pause, I’ve come to realize that my way of living was unsustainable. I couldn’t go on that way and expect to thrive. My needs were legitimate. I do need something to take the edge off, to sleep better at night, to help me stay in the moment, and to help combat chronic disease. I see now why yoga was just as important as the herbs, food modifications, and anti-viral gel. Yoga, for me, is a part of a very real, very potent path to holistic healing. It has made the impossible, possible. I’m writing to you as an addict who continues to struggle on the daily. But I am writing to you 100% sober, 100% capable, and 100% inspired to be my healthiest and to own my own healing. Yoga is like organic farming for the body and soul. Sustainable and nurturing, possible and vital. I give thanks for having crossed paths with Christopher and for all of the hope and wellness I have received on this path. I wish you all Happiness and Wellness. With a joyful heart,


Yogurt with a Kick

Cardamom is great for stimulating the digestive system and your metabolism.

1-2 cups of plain Organic Yogurt
1 orange peeled and sliced
1-2 tsp of honey
1 tsp of cardamom
1/2 tsp of cinnamon
Place the Yogurt into a bowl, sprinkle the spices, orange overtop and then drizzle the honey overtop.  You could also put it into a To-Go container and take it to work for a late afternoon snack.

The Naked Quiche
This quiche also has no pastry so it is easy to make, and you will still feel good naked because it is easy on the waistline.

6 eggs
6-7 cloves of garlic
1/2 cup of organic goat feta
1 tsp of pepper
1 tsp of organic sea salt
Handful of basil
Handful of oregano

1-2 tbsp of oil
3 tbsp of organic Parmesan cheese grated (optional)

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Throw the first 7 ingredients into a bowl (except the oil & parmesan) and stir with a fork or whisk.  Take a muffin pan and lightly oil each compartment.  Then fill up each section halfway with the egg mixture.  Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese overtop, and bake for 10-15 minutes, until the eggs are done.
Serve with a side veggie or fruit salad.

Potato and Onion Soup

4 cups of onions (thinly sliced)
4 cups of potatoes (thinly sliced)
2 tbsp of olive oil
4 cups of water
3-4 tsp of paprika
1 tsp of sea salt
1 tsp of pepper
1 tsp of cayenne pepper
1/4 of red wine

In a soup pot add oil and onions on medium heat for 5-7 minutes or until they are translucent.  Then add the potatoes, salt, and pepper, letting them fry in the pan for another 7 minutes.  Add paprika, cayenne pepper, turning down the heat to low and add in the red wine, letting it cook on low for another 5 minutes.  Then add boiling water into the pot and bring it all to a boil together.

Fiesta Stew
This stew has great colours as well as lots of nutrients!
1/2 cup finely chopped scallion whites
3 tsps of olive oil
2 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
3-5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 scallions, sliced, white and green parts divided
1 carrot, peeled and sliced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 14-ounce can reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 plum tomatoes, diced
1 ear of corn, husked and cut into 4 pieces
1 tablespoon lime juice
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro

Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook until browned, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to a plate. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon oil, garlic, scallion whites, carrot, jalapeno, salt and pepper to the pot and stir to combine. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low and cook until the vegetables begin to soften, 1 to 2 minutes. Uncover, add cumin and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add broth, tomatoes, corn and the cooked chicken; increase heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Cover, reduce heat to maintain a slow simmer and cook until the vegetables are tender, 5 to 7 minutes.
Remove from the heat and stir in scallion greens, lime juice and cilantro.