Natural support for those managing shingles
We have had a number of questions on shingles and how to help support the body in a natural way.
The following two paragraphs are excerpted from WebMd (www.webmd.com)
What is shingles?
Shingles is a painful skin rash . It is caused by the varicella zoster virus. Shingles usually appears in a band, a strip, or a small area on one side of the face or body. It is also called herpes zoster. Shingles is most common in older adults and people who have weak immune systems because of stress, injury, certain medicines, or other reasons. Most people who get shingles will get better and will not get it again. But it is possible to get shingles more than once.
What causes shingles?
Shingles occurs when the virus that causes chickenpox starts up again in your body. After you get better from chickenpox, the virus "sleeps" (is dormant) in your nerve roots. In some people, it stays dormant forever. In others, the virus "wakes up" when disease, stress, or aging weakens the immune system. Some medicines may trigger the virus to wake up and cause a shingles rash. It is not clear why this happens. But after the virus becomes active again, it can only cause shingles, not chickenpox.
What we also know is that shingles can be triggered by stress, so strengthening the nervous system with adaptogenic herbs is very helpful. So is taking teas that can help calm the nervous system and trying to relax.
Adaptogens such as holy basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum, sanctum); licorice root (Glycyrrhiza glabra) and ashwaganda (Withania somnifera) root are all excellent at helping the body deal with stress, while oat straw (Avena sativa) has shown to be effective in strengthening the nervous system. Echinacea angustifolia is an excellent herb to take daily to help balance the immune system, as are good medicinal mushrooms, such as reishi. St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum) also helps the nervous system and has shown anti-viral activity. You can use it topically as an oil with a heating pad or it can be taken internally as a tincture or tea. Just consult with your physician first as St. John's wort is not recommended with SSRIs (anti-depressant drugs) or HIV drugs. Homeopathically, St. John’s wort is known as Hypericum and that can be taken without worry if taking the aforementioned drugs. Lemon balm has been effective for some people (both topically and internally) for nerve pain. Other herbs that have shown anti-viral activity are: Andrographis, Cat’s Claw and Chaparral.
In addition, many health professionals recommend taking lysine 300-500mg 3x per day, again, ask your doctor first. You can put the lysine ointment on the external
outbreaks. Take as much vitamin C as you can tolerate, but make sure it’s a whole food's source, not just ascorbic acid. A 'B' vitamin complex is also helpful as these vitamins are depleted under stress.
Lastly, many people who suffer from shingles have found relief in acupuncture.