A compound found in broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage called indole-3-carbinol (I3C) may hold the key to thwarting the herpes virus, according to preliminary research presented in 2003 at the 43rd annual Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy (ICACC) in Chicago. In a laboratory study, the researchers first treated human and monkey cells with I3C. Then they infected the cells with one of two strains of the herpes virus, HSV-1, which can cause either oral or genital herpes, or HSV-2, which causes genital herpes. The researchers also infected the cells with a herpes virus strain known to be resistant to the current available drug therapy, Zovirax. According to lead researcher Terri Stonter, IC3 blocked the virus from reproducing by at least 99.9%.
Does this mean that eating broccoli could stop herpes? No one knows whether IC3 acts the same way in the human body as it does in the test tube, but including broccoli, cabbage, or Brussels sprouts in your daily diet can’t hurt.