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Home > Research Department  > Health Concerns Articles > Shingles
    Health Concerns Articles  
SHINGLES
Articles by a Naturopathic Doctor ( N.D.)

REDUCING STRESS REDUCES INFECTION

When your body is under stress - especially for longer periods of time your immune system has more trouble fighting viruses, including viruses that can lay dormant for years like shingles virus.
Often described as excruciating, the pain from a shingles infection affects the nerves.  That’s why it hurts so much.  Read on to find out how boosting your immune system & controlling stress with the right herbs & supplements  can help…

Shingles is an infection that occurs as a result of the reactivation of the chicken pox virus.  After an initial chicken pox infection (for most people usually as a child) the virus remains in the central nervous system.  It can be reactivated during periods of weakened immunity, from extreme stress, other illness or therapies that suppress the immune system.

The length and severity of each outbreak varies.  Attacks may begin with flu-like symptoms.  Then the virus inflames nerves just below the surface of the skin causing burning pain and redness.  The characteristic water-filled blisters emerge, burst and crust over but usually do not leave scars.  Nerve pain can last long after the infection retreats.  The outbreak usually happens along one nerve branch, on the back, chest or face but ocular eruptions do happen and can have serious complications.  Shingles is contagious only to those people that have not had chicken pox in the past.

There is no known way to eradicate the chicken pox virus with conventional medication.  If antiviral medication is used to treat an outbreak it must be administered within a few days of the onset in order to decrease symptoms.  Pain medication, ranging from over the counter medication to narcotics, is used to control the pain.  Pharmaceutically manufactured capsaicin cream and lidocaine are used for topical treatment.

Nutritional supplements can help in cases of shingles in three different ways:  by boosting the immune system, by reducing the symptoms, and by helping the body cope with stress effectively.

What you can do WHEN
YOU HAVE SHINGLES:

- DON'T DRINK COFFEE, COLA OR BLACK TEA;  THE CAFFEINE IN THEM DEPLETES IMPORTANT NUTRIENTS YOUR BODY NEEDS TO COPE WITH STRESS
- EAT PLENTY OF FRESH FRUIT AND  VEGETABLES
- BOOST YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM WITH SUPPLEMENTS LIKE VITAMIN C, OREGANO OIL AND LYSINE
- CONTROL STRESS WITH EXERCISES LIKE TAI CHI AND YOGA
- TAKE A B COMPLEX SUPPLEMENT
- USE HERBS LIKE ST. JOHN'S WORT TO DECREASE STRESS
- USE CAPSAICIN CREAM TO REDUCE PAIN

DID YOU KNOW?
(SHINGLES FACTS)

- SHINGLES IS CAUSED BY THE SAME VIRUS AS CHICKEN POX
- THE SHINGLES VIRUS CAN LAY DORMANT IN YOUR BODY FOR YEARS WITHOUT CAUSING ANY SYMPTOMS.

The activity of your immune system can be enhanced with several different nutritional supplements and herbs.  Use vitamin C with bioflavanoids to enhance your immune system reaction.  Echinacea and oregano oil have proven antiviral activity; you can use them to combat the virus that causes shingles.  The amino acid lysine is one of the most important supplements for a shingles regimen.  It helps prevent viral replication.

Symptoms of shingles can be reduced topically with capsaicin cream, which is derived from the herb cayenne.  It disrupts pain the messages that send the sensation of pain from your body to your brain.  Homeopathic St. John’s wort (called Hypericum) is effective in reducing nerve pain.

Controlling stress is crucial to reducing the duration and severity of a shingles outbreak.

Stress will deplete many nutrients and reduce the activity of your immune system. B complex should be used.  Also consider a good adrenal support formula with licorice, siberian ginseng and ashwaghanda. Weakened adrenals prevent your body from coping with stress. You can use the herbs St. Johns wort and Valerian to help you feel more relaxed. Use melatonin if you have trouble sleeping. If you are prone to shingles, then these supplements can also be used as part of a regimen for prevention as well as for treatment during and infection.

Support the nervous and immune systems through your diet.  Eat whole grains, legumes, nutritional yeast, eggs and fish, which provide B vitamins for nerve health.  Eat yellow, orange and green vegetables and citrus fruits for their vitamin A and C content.  These vitamins help to heal the skin.  Calcium and magnesium rich foods are also important, for example green, leafy vegetables and quinoa.  They promote the proper transmission of nerve impulses.   Increase the lysine content of the diet because lysine inhibits viral replication.   Lysine rich foods include fish especially halibut, shrimp, poultry, milk, lima beans, mung bean sprouts and yeast.  Avoid foods that decrease the immune system like white flour and sugar products and trans-fat products like margarine and shortening.  Use immune boosting foods like flaxseed oil, pumpkin seeds and wheat germ.

Physical treatments for boosting the immune system include: alternating hot and cold water at the end of your shower (always ending with cold), regular exercise, relaxation exercises and dry skin brushing.  Topical treatment of shingles can be done with colloidal silver, licorice extract, vitamin E oil, and creams containing vitamin C and zinc.  All of these treatments help to kill the virus and heal the skin.  Red pepper (capsicum) cream has been studied, with encouraging results, for pain after an outbreak.  Find a cream that is standardized for its capsaicin content.  Another treatment for pain after an outbreak is an apple cider vinegar compress.

The following list of supplements can be used for preventing and treating shingles.  Adult doses are given. (CLICK SUPPLEMENT NAME FOR PRODUCTS).

SUPPLEMENT DOSAGE THERAPEUTIC EFFECT
L-Lysine 500mg twice daily Inhibits viral replication.
Echinacea As directed Fights viruses
oregano oil As directed Fights viruses
Vitamin A and Vitamin E 100 000IU daily, vitamin E 1200-1600IU daily Vitamin A is antiviral and speeds tissue healing.  Do not use if you are pregnant.  Vitamin E stabilizes vitamin A and also prevents scarring.  Use in moderation if you are taking blood-thinning medications.
Buffered Vitamin C with bioflavinoids 500mg every few hours Supports mucous membranes. Enhances the immune system and is an antiviral.
Vitamin B complex plus B12 50-100mg three times daily plus B12 1000mcg daily Supports the nervous system.  B12 prevents nerve damage.
Zinc and copper 90mg daily plus copper 10mg Speeds tissue repair.  Do not use more than 100mg of zinc daily.
Phenylalanine 3000-4000mg daily Relieves pain by boosting the production of pain relieving neurotransmitters.
Adrenal support formula As directed Helps the body cope with stress.  Use one with licorice, siberian ginseng and ashwaghanda.
melatonin 1-3mg daily Use in cases of insomnia caused by pain or discomfort from shingles
St. John's wort 300mg 1-3 times daily Helps reduce stress and elevates mood.  Do not use with prescription anti-depressants or MAO inhibitors.
Hypericum 30c as directed A homeopathic remedy that helps to reduce nerve pain.
Larrea tridentata As directed An antiviral herb that has been studied for its effectiveness in eradicating the chickenpox virus.
Also beneficial for SHINGLES RELIEF: Multivitamins, essential fatty acids, astragalus, cayenne, coenzyme Q10, colloidal silver, green food supplements, green tea, garlic, horsetail, lemon balm, licorice extract, mushroom extract, SAMe.
For informational purposes only.  Please consult your health care practitioner before taking natural health care products. Click here for full disclaimer.


All articles copyright National Nutrition 2001 - 2014.  For educational purposes only.  Please note that while National Nutrition supports your right to use natural health care products for any therapeutic purpose that you see fit, that the information on this website should not be considered as a claim or as a substitute for medical advice.

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