June 17, 2017



According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, almost one out of three people, in America, will develop shingles during their lifetime. Nearly one million Americans experience the condition each year. As you get older, you are more likely to get the disease. About half of all shingles cases occur in people age 60 years and older.

WHAT EXACTLY IS SHINGLES? Caused by the herpes zoster virus, shingles is an infection of the nerve endings in the skin. This virus is the same virus responsible for chicken pox. After a child recovers from chicken pox, the virus stays dormant in the spinal column. Many years later, it can become activated if the immune system is weakened by stress, lack of sleep, poor diet, infections, AIDS, or cancers such as leukemia.

SYMPTOMS AND COMPLICATIONS – 1.) Burning or tingling pain, most often in the trunk area around the ribs and waist. 2.) Itchy blisters form and crust over, eventually falling off. Blisters can be painful and very uncomfortable when touching clothing. 3.) Headaches, fever, and fatigue can accompany physical symptoms and can linger after blisters are gone. 4.) Ophthalmic Shingles include lesions in, or around, the eye and forehead. Sufferers can experience painful eye infections. In this case, a visit to the ophthalmologist is imperative. 5.) Shingles infections near the ear can cause hearing/ balance problems as well as weakness of the muscles on the affected side of the face.  

IMPORTANT NOTE: People with shingles need to seek immediate medical evaluation if they notice neurological symptoms outside the common regions of the primary shingles attack.

IS SHINGLES CONTAGIOUS? Shingles is not contagious in most cases, but the virus can be passed from someone with shingles to those, especially children, who have never had chicken pox. Likewise, a person with chicken pox cannot give shingles to someone else….BUT….they can pass the virus to someone who has never had chickenpox. In cases of chicken pox, the virus can become airborne because it is found in the upper respiratory tract.


In May 2006, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a VZV vaccine (Zostavax) for use in people 60 and older who have had chickenpox. In March 2011, the FDA extended the approval to include adults 50-59 as well. Researchers found that giving older adults the vaccine reduced the expected number of cases of shingles by half. With people who still got the disease despite immunization, the severity and complications of shingles were dramatically reduced. According to Harvard Medical School, the CDC recommends the shingles vaccine even for people who have already had shingles. There is no specific time that you must wait after having shingles before receiving the shingles vaccine. But it’s probably best to hold off until the shingles rash has disappeared before getting vaccinated. That’s because when you have an attack of shingles, your immune system is actively waging war against it. There is some evidence that the immune system responds more vigorously to the vaccine when it is “at rest.”

CAN SHINGLES STRIKE AGAIN? The short answer is yes. The risk of recurring shingles increases in people whose immune system is compromised or is very weak. Even though a small percentage, up to 10% of adults who get shingles may experience long-term pain, even after the rash has healed completely. This condition is called Postherpetic Neuralgia. It can be debilitating, lasting for months, or even years.

The use of anti-viral drugs can be effective in the treatment of shingles. However, mild to severe side effects can occur and you would need to be aware of them. Some side effects can include: Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headaches, agitation, confusion, dizziness, muscle and joint aches, visual changes, hair loss, and changes in behavior. NOTE: Shingles requires treatment with higher doses of anti-viral drugs. At higher doses, the most common side effects are tiredness and malaise.  

NATURAL TREATMENTS TO RELIEVE SHINGLES SYMPTOMS can be administered topically and taken internally. Both ways can relieve pain, itchiness, and general stress related symptoms.


  • OATS BATH – Relieves itching: For bath – Steep 1 cup of oats tied up in cheesecloth in 2 quarts of boiling water for 10 minutes. Add the cloth bundle, and liquid, to bath water. While soaking in the tub, gently rub your skin with the bundle. Let skin air-dry. WARNING ON OATS: Usually very healthy when eaten, shingles sufferers might want to avoid eating the oats since it contains higher levels of arginine than lysine. See below for further information.


  • CORNSTARCH/BAKING SODA PASTE – Relieves itching: For paste – Pour 2 parts cornstarch (or baking soda) into a cup and add one part water to achieve desired consistency to make a paste. Apply the paste mixture to your rash. Gently rinse off after 10-15 minutes. 

  • LEMON BALM OIL – Mitigate pain and relieve itching: Add 5 drops of lemon balm essential oil to 1 teaspoon of either olive oil or jojoba oil. OR…Combine equal parts of lemon balm oil and liquid vitamin E. Use the liquid form or simply break open capsules of Vitamin E. Regularly massage this mixture gently onto any painful areas. PLEASE NOTE! To avoid skin irritation…Never use lemon balm oil on large areas of the skin by itself. Instead, dilute it with oils mentioned above.
  • MORE ESSENTIAL OILS TO USE: Geranium oil, tea tree oil, lavender oil, lemongrass oil, peppermint oil. Remember to dilute.



  • CHAMOMILE TEA COMPRESS – Soothes inflamed skin and promotes healing. Pour one cup of boiling water over 2 teaspoons of chamomile tea. Allow the tea to cool, and then pour it over a gauze compress; apply the compress to the skin and air dry. 


  • WHEAT-GRASS JUICE COMPRESS – Reduces skin inflammation. The chlorophyll in the juice accelerates the formation of new skin. Wheat grass juice also offers protection against bacteria. Sprinkle the juice liberally on a gauze pad and gently apply the pad to the skin. Air dry.  


Stress can exacerbate the inflammation, and pain, related to shingles symptoms. Although there are many relaxation tips out there, here are just two that may help and are simple.

1.) VALERIAN TEA –  Native to Europe and parts of Asia, Valerian is one of the best known herbs for easing nervous tension and promoting a good night’s sleep. First recognized in the 17th century for its sedative effects, Valerian has enjoyed a long history of safe and effective use. It is a natural tranquilizer and helps to alleviate anxiety. In recent years, Valerian has become more popular. Having said that….some people cannot digest Valerian properly and may get headaches or feel nervous when using it. In these instances, another herb should be used such as: Chamomile, Passion Flower, Hawthorn Blossoms, St. John’s Wort, Orange Blossoms, Lavender, Lemon Balm. Some of these herbs work well when mixed together. Valerian tea, along with with these other herbal teas, can be found in health food stores and specialty herbal tea shops. 

2.) STRESS RELIEVING EXERCISES – Pain and skin eruptions due to shingles can leave you feeling tired and weak. This can make strenuous exercise very difficult. However, stress-relieving exercise can be beneficial when you have shingles. Choose exercises like Tai Chi, or Yoga, which involves slow and controlled movements. It helps to reduce stress and burn calories. Walking outside in fresh air and swimming in cool water are also good exercise practices to reduce stress. Many people claim meditation helps tremendously in reducing high stress levels. Listening to relaxing Zen-like music can help you keep calm when feeling anxious or stressed.


  • FRUIT ENZYMES – Papain is an enzyme present in papaya, and the enzyme bromelain is found in pineapple. Both enzymes are natural anti-inflammatories that may help to reduce swelling of the skin around shingles blisters. You can eat the fresh fruit or take these enzymes, in pill form, which are available at health food stores. Follow dosage directions on the labels.
  • VITAMINS AND MINERALS – Vitamin C battles the shingles virus PLUS builds resistance back up and assists skin in healing. Take 3,000 – 4,000 milligrams a day during shingles rash break out. Zinc is anti-viral and essential to the body’s resistance. Recommended zinc dosage would be 30-60 milligrams a day during a shingles attack. Besides using Vitamin E topically, you can take 400 IUs a day to lessen pain during acute phases and reduce the risk of pain continuing. Calcium and Vitamins A, D, and K are very helpful during outbreaks.. Viruses attack the fatty cell membranes, and these membranes are stronger when nourished with fat-soluble vitamins. Echinacea supplements can help provide a boost to your immune system and help to fight off the infection. Eat foods high in B-vitamins — The nervous system is under attack by the shingles virus; therefore, it’s important to include foods high in B-vitamins such as grass-fed beef, cultured dairy, eggs, organic chicken, and wild-caught fish. Raw garlic is a beneficial natural shingles treatment as it is anti-viral in nature and may help to promote healing. You can add raw garlic to foods or have garlic capsules twice daily for one week. BE AWARE: Check the dosage of your daily multi-vitamins and make sure to take all vitamins and minerals you need on a daily basis. Some people suffering from shingles might need B12 shots. Check with your doctor.
  • ANTI-VIRAL LYSINE – Is an essential amino acid and is especially useful in combating the herpes zoster virus. Lysine helps to deter viruses from reproducing, and it is essential for tissue repair. It speeds healing and helps to prevent the infection from spreading.  For the first 3 to 4 days only, take a total of 4,000 milligrams (500 milligram capsules-2 to 3 at a time spread out during the day). Then cut back the dose to 1,000 milligrams daily.

WARNING ON SUPPLEMENT DOSAGE AND TIME FRAMES: Whenever taking vitamins, minerals, herbs, enzymes etc; re-visit dosage and time frames often to avoid over dosing. Research dosage amounts and efficacy of manufacturer’s brands.


    Foods high in the amino acid arginine tend to promote the growth of the shingles virus, reports WholeHealth Chicago, an integrative medicine center. Especially problematic are foods that are high in arginine and low in lysine, an amino acid that helps balance arginine in the body. During an outbreak, avoid nuts, seeds, soy foods, chocolate, oats, wheat germ, coconut, carob, whole-wheat and white flour, and gelatin, according to homeopathic practitioner Gabrielle Traub.
    Since herpes zoster is a viral condition, building a strong immune system through dietary intake of Vitamins A, B-6, C, E, and folate, plus the minerals iron and zinc, may help, according to a study published in the “International Journal of Epidemiology”. Avoid foods that are low in vitamins and minerals, such as sugary foods, sugary beverages, and other refined carbohydrates. Instead, increase your intake of whole, unprocessed foods. Choose organic when available.


NOTE: This information is not meant to replace any medical attention needed, or given, by your doctor. Check with your health care practitioner regarding any reactions when mixing specific herbs with prescription drugs. Also, research side effects when mixing over-the-counter drugs with herbs. Consult your doctor with any concerns.




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