Shingles (Herpes Zoster)
Shingles is an infection of a nerve and the skin around it. It is caused by the herpes varicella-zoster virus, which also causes chickenpox.
Shingles usually affects a specific area on either the left or right side of the body and does not cross over the midline of the body (an imaginary line running from between your eyes down past the belly button). It causes a painful rash which develops into itchy blisters.
Most people will feel unwell for several days before the rash appears.
Your licensed health practitioner can diagnose shingles based on your symptoms and the appearance of the rash.
Typically, three to four days before skin outbreaks occur, symptoms of fatigue, fever, chills, and, sometimes, gastrointestinal upset, start to manifest, followed by the affected area of the skin becoming sensitive to touch. Then small, crusty, painful blisters erupt along a nerve path so that the reddened outbreak affects a strip of skin, forming a line. This most commonly occurs over the ribs in the thoracic area and is usually limited to one side of the body. In rare cases, shingles can also affect the lower part of the body or the face. During shingles outbreaks the pain can be severe, but the eruptions usually heal within five days without further complications. In some people, however, especially the elderly, pain can last for months and even years, and be recurring. An episode of shingles usually lasts two to four weeks. The first sign of the condition is a tingling sensation in the affected area, followed by pain and then a rash.
Any part of your body can be affected although the chest and abdomen (tummy) are the usual areas. You may also:
- experience pain in your arms and legs
- find the nerves in the upper half of your face (including your eyes) are affected
- feel exhausted
Shingles may cause some early (prodromal) symptoms that last for one to four days before the rash first appears. These early symptoms can include:
- a high temperature (fever) of 38C (100.4F) or over, though this unusual
- myalgia (muscle pain)
- burning, tingling, numbness or itchiness of the skin in the affected area
- a feeling of being generally unwell
Not everyone will experience these prodromal symptoms. In particular, a high temperature is uncommon.
Along with the early symptoms above, people with shingles experience a localised ‘band’ of pain in the affected area. The pain can be a constant, dull or burning sensation and its intensity can vary from mild to severe. You may have sharp stabbing pains from time to time and the affected area of skin will usually be tender.
Pain is less common in young, healthy people and rare in children. It can last for more than a week before the rash begins.
The shingles rash usually follows several days after the start of the pain. The rash appears on one side of your body and develops on the area of skin related to the affected nerve.
Initially, the shingles rash appears as red blotches on your skin, before quickly developing into itchy blisters similar in appearance to chickenpox. New blisters may appear for up to a week, but about three days after appearing they become yellowish in colour, flatten and dry out.
Finally, scabs form where the blisters were, which may leave some slight scarring. It usually takes two to four weeks for the rash to completely heal.
The symptoms of shingles are often mild. However, see your licensed health practitioner as soon as possible if you recognise the symptoms. Early treatment may help reduce the severity of your symptoms and risk of developing complications.
See your licensed health professional immediately if you have any of the following symptoms:
- a high temperature (fever) of 38C (100.4F) or over
- memory loss
- severe headache
- symptoms that affect your eye area
See your licensed health professional if you develop symptoms of shingles and are pregnant or have a weakened immune system (the body’s natural defence system).
Shingles is caused by the reactivation of the varicella-zoster virus, which is the virus that causes chickenpox (a highly infectious condition most people have during childhood).
After you have had chickenpox, the varicella-zoster virus lies dormant (inactive) inside your body. It can later be reactivated and cause shingles.
It is not known exactly how the virus is reactivated, but it may be linked to having lowered immunity. Your immunity to illness and infection can become lowered if there is a problem with your immune system (the body’s natural defence system). This can happen as a result of:
- Being older. As you age, your immunity may also decrease. Shingles most commonly occurs in people over 80 years old.
- Physical and emotional stress. The chemicals released by your body when you are stressed can prevent your immune system from working properly.
- Having HIV and ADS. People with HIV may be up to 25 times more likely to get shingles than the rest of the population.
It is not possible to catch shingles from someone else with the condition. However, it is possible for someone who has never had chickenpox to catch chickenpox from someone with shingles. In the UK, chickenpox is so common during childhood that 9 out of 10 adults have had it, so will not be affected.
The blisters (vesicles) that develop as a result of shingles contain virus particles. The virus can be spread through direct contact with the open blisters. If you have not had chickenpox before, you can catch it from direct contact with:
- the fluid from the blisters of someone who has shingles
- something that has the fluid on it, such as bed sheets or a towel
If you have shingles, you are contagious until the last blister has scabbed over. This will usually occur five to seven days after your symptoms started.
Spreading the Virus:
If you have the shingles rash, do not:
- share towels or flannels
- go swimming
- play contact sports
This will help prevent the virus being passed on to someone who has not had chickenpox.
People to Avoid:
If you have shingles, avoid:
- women who are pregnant and have not had chickenpox before as they could catch chickenpox from you, which may harm their unborn baby
- people who have a weak immune system (the body’s natural defence system), such as someone with HIV or AIDS
- babies less than one month old, unless it is your own baby, in which case your baby should have antibodies (proteins that fight infection) to protect them from the virus
Once your blisters have dried and scabbed over, you are no longer contagious and will not need to avoid anyone.
Shingles can also be due to pleurisy, Bell`s palsy, herpes simplex, appendicitis, colic, gallstones, colitis, trigeminal neuralgia, or contact dermatitis. All of these conditions must be screened for and, if present, properly treated to provide lasting relief from shingles.
Caution: Shingles eruptions that last longer than two weeks can be a sign of underlying immune problems or cancer (particularly Hodgkin`s disease), and therefore require immediate attention. In addition, see an ophthalmologist immediately if herpes zoster occurs near the eyes or on the forehead, as it can cause blindness.
As with all diseases this did not happen overnight. The very first thing you must do is see a licensed health professional. Find a list of practitioners in your local area here
Here are some things you can discuss with your practitioner:
- Eliminate Candida: Click here to find out how
- Do the Hydrogen Peroxide Protocol to strengthen the immune system:
- Drink 3oz of Colloidal Silver, three or four times a day for 60 days www.utopiasilver.com/ Silver has long been recognised as a powerful natural antibiotic. Colloidal silver is silver that has been removed electronically from its source and then suspended in water. It is used to treat a myriad of diseases.
- Go on a fast to clear your system of toxic waste www.wecarespa.com
Hydrotherapy is the application of water, ice, steam and hot and cold temperatures to maintain and restore health. Treatments include full body immersion, steam baths, saunas, sitz baths, colonic irrigation and the application of hot and/or cold compresses. Hydrotherapy is effective for treating a wide range of conditions and can easily be used in the home as part of a self-care program. Many Naturopathic Physicians, Physical Therapists and Day Spas use Hydrotherapy as part of treatment. We suggest several at-home hydrotherapy treatments. Please seek the advice of your alternative health care practitioner before undergoing these procedures to make sure they are appropriate – especially in the case of children.
- We recommend regular colonics to remove toxicity from the body. Read more about colonics by clicking here. Find a practitioner here.
- Most of the water that we drink is very acidic and in order to heal our bodies need a more alkaline state. During the programme drink alkalised water, which you can buy from Real Waterwww.drinkrealwater.com/
Eat an organic, whole foods diet that emphasizes fresh fruits and vegetables and minimizes carbohydrates (avoiding refined carbohydrates and sugars altogether).
At the first sign of outbreak, apply zinc oxide along the path of the affected nerve area two to three times daily. Other helpful nutrients include L-lysine, vitamin B-complex, vitamin B12, BHT, calcium, and high doses of vitamin C plus bioflavonoids. Topical application of vitamin E can also be helpful. Snake vaccine made from venom has also been known to take away the pain of shingles.
Flaxseed oil supplies essential fatty acids that are important for a healthy nervous system and for healthy skin. Take 1 tablespoon twice a day.
Selenium is an antioxidant that works synergistically with vitamin E. Take 100 micrograms a day.
Acidophilus is important in maintaining the health of the digestive tract by encouraging the growth of “friendly” bacteria that maintain the strength and integrity of the intestinal wall. Take 1/2 teaspoon of acidophilus powder dissolved in 2 ounces of warm water twice a day, between meals.
Prescription and non-prescription medication:
What non-prescription and prescription drugs are you taking? Your non-prescription and prescription are partially the reason that you have this illness or disease – you need to get off these medications but do so only under the guidance of a licensed health care practitioner.
We know that when the body is out of balance, energy doesn’t flow, leading blockages and eventually dis-ease. Here are some things you can do to combat stress and restore balance:
- Go to a Dr Morter BEST (Bio-Energetic Synchronisation Technique) Practitioner.
- Sign up for Energetic Re-Balancing: 2 practitioners to consider are:
- Stephen Lewis, founder of the Aim Program. Find out more by clicking here.
- . Find out more by clicking here.
- Consider using Mary Millers Iching System Products – ichingsystemsinstruments.com
- Reiki healing is very powerful in releasing stress and emotional baggage. Find a practitioner here.
- Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) has had remarkable results in dissolving stress. Find a local practitioner here (link) or go to www.thetappingsolution.com, Faster EFT or www.tftrx.com
- Try Hypnotherapy to relax the mind. Find a practitioner here.
We recommend you consult a licensed health practitioner if you are concerned because it is important to watch for fever. Temperatures can be kept down with cool, sponge baths, says Dr Virender Sodhi MD (Ayurveda), director of the Ayurvedic and Naturopathic Medical Clinic in Bellevue, Washington. He also recommends soaking in an alkaline bath containing baking soda to relieve itching. Aloe Vera gel applied to the rash will also help. The following ayurvedic home remedies can also be beneficial:
- Application of honey is one of the effective home remedies for shingles. Smear the skin with honey; this is one of the best home remedies as it helps to treat the condition in just two days.
- Using green pea water is another good home remedy. When you cook peas in water, don’t discard the water, use this water instead to treat the shingles.
- Taking a bath with some oatmeal helps to reduce the itching. Add two cups of oat meal to two liters of water and cook the mixture for around twenty minutes. Put this mixture in a cotton bag and allow it to float and be swooshed in the tub until it turns the bathwater turbid. Splash this water on the blisters.
- Brown vinegar is a powerful home remedy. Adding vinegar to the bath water helps to reduce the irritation and also treats the lesions.
- Bathing with neem leaves not only helps to treat shingles pox but also fights all the other skin disorders.
- Sponge the entire body with a mixture of baking soda and water. Baking soda reduces the itching due to the blisters as well as healing them.
Traditional Chinese Medicine
TCM works by forcing the toxins out of the body and we recommend you consult a licensed health practitioner who will be able to advise on treatment dependent on the severity of symptoms. The basic therapeutic principle of shingles is clearing away heat and relieving the exterior syndromes with pungent-flavoured and cool-natured drugs. In the case of mild syndrome with pathogenic factors stagnating defensive qi, the therapeutic methods include dispelling wind and clearing away heat in combination with auxiliary methods of removing toxins and excreting dampness; in the case of severe syndrome with intense heat in both qi system and nutrient system, the therapeutic method is clearing away heat to cool nutrient system in combination with the auxiliary method of removing toxins; in the case of large-sized, liquid-filled blisters due to excessive dampness, the therapeutic methods include clearing away heat, removing toxins and excreting dampness by inducing diuresis; in the case of excessive pathogenic factors settling in the heart and liver, the therapeutic methods include clearing away heat to cool the blood, removing toxins and inducing resuscitation. Saffron, honeysuckle and chrysanthemum are often used, along with peppermint and bupleurum.
Accupunture can also be beneficial in treating shingles. Consult a licensed practitioner Acupuncture for Shingles who nay advise working on the following points:
GB 30, GB 31, GB 40, GB 43, or: GB 34, LI 4, ST 36, TW 5, ST 4, UB 38.
Adrenal, Lung, Occiput, Internal Secretions
Massage the essential oils of lemon, geranium, bergamot, eucalyptus, tea tree, lavender, or chamomile along the affected area.
The following natural healing remedy using the antiviral properties of aromatherapy essential oils such as eucalyptus and bergamot can also help:
Add 2 drops each of tea tree, eucalyptus and bergamot to a luke-warm bath.
Blend 2 (to stop itching)
Make a lotion of 2 ounces of witch hazel and 2 ounces of water. Add 5 drops each of lavender, chamomile and tea tree essential oils. Shake well and dab on as needed.
We recommend you consult a licensed health practitioner. David Hoffman, B.Sc (MNIMH) of California says swabbing blisters with witch hazel is particularly beneficial. He also recommends combining equal parts of dried rosemary leaves and calendula flowers and infusing the mixture (boiling in water.) Once the infusion is cooled it can be applied with a wet cloth by gently dabbing the skin where needed. The following can also be beneficial but discuss with your practitioner first:
BELLADONNA, high fever with red cheeks, dry heat and covering up.
Fever subsides in a few days. This is the catching time, incubation is 3 weeks.
ARSENICUM ALB, more restless and complains of burning, 3am symptoms, fears, may have hallucinations
BRYONIA, more irritable. headache, leave me alone.
RHUS TOX for the itch.
URTICA URENS, if Rhus does not work (the itching lasts at least two weeks or more)
ANTIMONIUM TART, if there is a cough, wheezing, etc.
DULCAMARA, good for skin healing as well as for cold symptoms.
German Chamomile and garlic can be beneficial as well as Scutellaria Laterifolia (Scullcap) and Echinacea purpurea as a nerve relaxing tonic and immune system booster.
Other well-known herbs such as Calendula Officinalis (Marigold), Hamamelis Virginianum (Witch hazel), Stellaria Media (Chickweed) and Verbena Officinalis (Vervain) contain soothing and restorative properties to help relieve angry skin. We recommend you consult a licensed health practitioner.
The following remedy is also beneficial: Combine equal parts of oat straw, St. John`s wort, and skullcap tinctures and take one teaspoon of this mixture four times a day. Peppermint oil applied topically can also help reduce pain, unless the skin is excessively dry, in which case it is contraindicated.
The combination of echinacea and goldenseal is antiviral, immune- stimulating, and detoxifying, and is helpful in the treatment of herpes. Take 1/4 teaspoon of tincture in tea or juice three times a day. Or combine equal parts of tinctures of echinacea, goldenseal, nettle, and Siberian ginseng, and take 1/2 teaspoon of this mixture three times a day to strengthen your immune system and make it less vulnerable to infection.
Lemon balm, also known as melissa, contains compounds known as polyphenols that have anti-herpes properties, and is felt by some to be a first- choice herbal treatment. Use topical applications of lemon-balm tea, which you can make by steeping 2 to 4 teaspoons of herb per cup of boiling water. Apply the tea to the blisters with a cotton ball four times a day In Europe, an ointment containing 700 milligrams of dried lemon-balm leaf per gram is widely used. Lemon balm is only one of the herbs in the mint family that are effective anti-herpes agents and contain at least four antiviral compounds that target herpes. Other members of this botanical family include hyssop, oregano, rosemary, sage, and thyme.
Licorice contains several antiviral and immune-boosting compounds. You can apply a licorice ointment locally, drink a weak licorice tea, and/or apply a strong tea directly to the rash three times a day.
Oat-straw extract calms the nervous system. Take 500 milligrams three times a day.
Reishi mushroom extract stimulates the immune system to fight infections such as herpes. Take 500 milligrams three times a day.
St. John’s wort extract has antiviral properties. Take 300 milligrams three times a day.
A combination of equal parts of oat straw, St. John’s wort, and skullcap can be mixed and one teaspoon taken four times a day.
Diluted tinctures of calendula, licorice, myrrh, St. John’s wort, and slippery elm can be used topically to aid in healing. You can brew a strong tea from any of these herbs and dab it on your blisters with cotton balls after it cools.
Flower Essences: Crab Apple.
Juice Therapy: Drink carrot and celery juice with one tablespoon of parsley juice once or twice each day.
Topical Treatment: Apply apple cider vinegar to the affected area.
If your symptoms persist despite the above measures, seek the help of a qualified health professional. The following professional care therapies have all been shown to be useful for treating shingles: Acupuncture, Biofeedback Training, Detoxification Therapy, Energy Medicine (Light Beam Generator, Ondamed, TENS), Magnetic Field Therapy, Naturopathic Medicine, Neural Therapy, Orthomolecular Medicine (Vitamin B12 injections combined with adenosine monophosphate), Oxygen Therapy (Hydrogen Peroxide Therapy, Ozone), and Reflexology.
Colloidal silver is an extremely effective pathogen destroyer which can be taken internally as well as applied topically. Recent studies have found that: 1) Colloidal silver attaches itself to viruses and prevents them from replicating and 2) There are specific silver receptors on human nerve tissue – the location where the shingles virus “hides out”.
Proteolytic enzymes are produced naturally by the pancreas to help digest the protein, and they are reported to be able to strip away the protective outer layers and heads of viruses. These enzymes are found in certain foods, such as papaya and pineapple, and are also available in supplement form. In a German study, 96 people with shingles took proteolytic enzymes for 14 days and another 96 people with shingles took acyclovir, a standard antiviral medication. Both groups experienced similar pain relief and skin improvement. The group taking proteolytic enzymes had significantly fewer side effects.
Olive leaf extract is a very effective anti-viral that has been reported to conquer viruses that mainstream medicine considers impossible to eliminate, such as Hepatitis-C. One patient who had suffered from shingles for nine years reported experiencing complete relief within two days after beginning to use olive leaf extract.
Turmeric: The juice of fresh turmeric is prized as a cure/soother for many skin conditions, including eczema, chicken pox, shingles, poison oak/ivy, and scabies. Turmeric paste makes a satisfactory substitute! Apply the paste directly to the affected area, cover lightly with gauze or loose cotton clothing (that will likely be ruined with stain). This is known to help dry the blisters up and accelerate the healing process. For shingles, one ayurvedic remedy calls for first spreading a light coating of mustard oil on the shingles rash, and then spreading the turmeric paste over that. (Skin condition such as those described above are seen in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine as originating from liver congestion/toxicity.
Pear: Eating pear or drinking its juice in sufficient amounts is good, as it has a huge supply of antiviral caffeic acid that cures shingles.
Cabbage Poultice: A fresh Cabbage Poultice can be made and applied over the areas affected with Shingles. It helps to absorb toxins and works to speed up the healing process of shingles.
Yogurt: Apply a mixture of yogurt and zinc oxide along the particular path of the nerve. If it is applied before the outbreak it would help to control the eruption of blisters.
Aloe and Honey: Aloe Vera soothes irritated skin; it is also antibacterial and anti-inflammatory. It can be mixed with raw organic honey, which is another powerful home remedy.
Natural home remedies for shingles: www.homemademedicine.com/homeremedies-shingles.html
Shingles natural treatment: www.healthguidance.org/entry/4774/1/Shingles-Natural-Treatment.html
Ayurvedic treatment of shingles: www.remedyspot.com/articles/222-herpes-zoster-shingles-diagnosis-cure-according-ayurveda.html
Turmeric, the golden healer: www.healthy.net/scr/Recipe.aspx?Id=47
Homeopathic remedy for shingles: www.holisticonline.com/remedies/shingles/shingles_homeopathy.htm
Treat shingles at home: www.innovateus.net/health/how-treat-shingles-home
Shingles symptoms natural treatment: www.youtube.com/watch?v=dfKHuA_2uRE
Shingles pain relief with acupuncture: www.youtube.com/watch?v=azW4-xtlA80
Relieve the itching of shingles with home Ayurvedic remedies: www.youtube.com/watch?v=HdnGAdfk8OE
Rheumatoid arthritis medication can cause shingles:www.naturalnews.com/025671_shingles_arthritis_rheumatoid.html
New study in shingles: www.mayoclinic.org/news2011-rst/6160.html
Tai Chi and protection against shingles: www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/67350.php
Further Information (links and books)
Natural Treatments for Genital Herpes, Cold Sores and Shingles: A Review of the Scientific and Medical Literature, by John Hill; How to Cure Shingles in 3 Days, Bob Carlton.
Andrea Butje | Aromahead email@example.com – aromatherapy
Carrie Vitt firstname.lastname@example.org – organic food recipes.
David Spector-NSR/USA email@example.com – meditation, stress
Judith Hoad firstname.lastname@example.org – herbalist.
Kath May email@example.com – reiki, tai chi.
Lillian Bridges firstname.lastname@example.org – Chinese medicine, living naturally.
Monika email@example.com – aromatherapy.
Rakesh GAC@AyurvedicLifeStyles.com – Ayurvedic Practitioner.