I know it's a common thought that herpes outbreaks are related to the overall health of one's immune system, but lately I've been wondering about this. I think I have a pretty healthy immune system. Of course, there's always room for improvement, but I can't recall the last time I've had a cold or virus. Years ago, however, this wasn't the case as I frequently had colds, sore throats, etc. and I never gave much thought to my immune system (until I had a cold, lol). But guess what? Back then, I only had 1 (rather minor) outbreak per year and sometimes it skipped a year meaning I'd have a minor one every other year. This was the case for about 15 years.
By contrast, in recent years I've paid more attention to my health and my focus is on maintaining a healthy immune system through diet and exercise (though I admit that I sometimes go up and down with exercise). For the past 2 or 3 years, however, I've had outbreaks quite frequently. I now have them every other month or every 3 months. I've actually had more outbreaks in the recent 2 years than I ever had in the 15 or so combined years prior. AND a couple of them have been pretty bad/painful which I'd never experienced before!
Some of you may recall a few years ago I posted a thread on this as I was wondering if increased exercise and/or an experience with a massage (that was more acupressure than anything) led to this sudden change. To recap, I'd started working out again and had gotten a massage after my first week back at the gym just to relieve a little soreness. The very muscular female masseuse spent nearly an hour pressing different nerves and pressure points on my body while holding them for excruciating long periods of time. Later that same day, parts of my body began to swell and I had distinct flu like symptoms for about the next 24 hours; that massage left me feeling like crap. Shortly thereafter, I had my first painful outbreak. Mind you, I'd had herpes for more than 15 years at this time and had never experienced any sort of pain like this even on my very first outbreak! The painful outbreak lasted for several days and went away. Usually I'm happy to get them over with because it used to mean a year or, if I was lucky, 2 years before I'd have another one. However after this one, I got another outbreak 2 months later and this cycle of every other month or every 3 months has continued now for about 3 years! They haven't been as painful as the one I just described, but they have been odd still. For instance, I used to always have the familiar tingling sensation, swollen gland and flu like feeling just before an outbreak; now I get them without warning. They also used to happen only after my monthly cycle; now I get them sometimes before my cycle. The lesions are also harder to detect on the first day which in the absence of any warning sensations makes me very nervous about relations with my husband (who isn't infected).
Which all leads me back to my original pondering. We all know that herpes is a virus that attaches to the nervous system and I think this is why mine changed after the massage experience. I actually think she manipulated a change in the state of my nervous system with the acupressure which somehow caused the virus to reposition itself or do something different than what it was doing before. But what isn't making sense is that my immune system is strong. I try to avoid trigger foods, eat a balanced diet, take herbs and lead a generally low-stress life. Because of this, I'm not so sure it's immune system related, because remember, when I didn't do these things and my immune system was at its weakest, I only was getting mild outbreaks every 1 or 2 years!
What do you all think? And what has been your experience? I know the importance of a healthy immune system and will continue to focus on mine, but has it really made a significant difference in your outbreaks? After all, let's remember that this is a virus attached to the nervous system; is it possible that the immune system doesn't weigh as heavily in outbreaks as we think it does?