Shingles is a virus that attacks the nerves. Shingles are an acute central nervous system infection caused by herpes zoster virus (the same as chicken pox). Children, teenagers, and young adults can get shingles, but most people who have outbreaks are over 50 years old.
Symptoms include an eruption of blisters on the trunk of the body, usually along a peripheral nerve, with fever, itching, weakness, chills, and sometimes nausea. Uncomfortable feelings usually continue even after blisters are gone.
After a person recovers from chickenpox, the virus stays dormant in the body. The virus can reactivate years later, causing shingles. Why does the virus become active after 20 or 30 years? The most common cause is probably a reaction to medication. Other possible causes include stress, food allergies (especially dairy, shell fish, wheat, and MSG), food additives, preservatives, over chlorinated water, adrenal or liver exhaustion, histamine reaction, poor circulation, constipation, and high doses of caffeine. Shingles can be a very painful condition but medicinal herbs can help!
There are several herbal remedies that can help prevent, soothe, and heal shingles. Licorice, echinacea, and flax seed oil may help if taken regularly. Medicinal herbs that help protect and heal the nerves also help shingles. St. John's Wort, red clover, nettle, and ginseng are some of the most well known.
Shingles blisters can be treated with herbal teas, ointments, washes, and compresses. Herbs useful as a topical application to blisters include lemon balm, echinacea, aloe vera, golden seal, yellowroot, hyssop, oregano, peppermint, rosemary, sage, thyme, and calendula. Rosemary esential oil, bergamot essential oil, hyssop essential oil, oregano esential oil may also be used in the fight against shingles. These herbs and essential oils may be incorporated into cream or ointment. They may also be used in tea form as a wash or compress. For extra strength add oil from a vitamin E gel cap. Apply with a cotton ball at least three times a day. Do not take essential oils internally.
The essential amino acid lysine is known to reduce the severity of shingles outbreaks. Foods that contain a significant amount of lysine include legumes, watercress, soybeans, carob, spinach, meat, eggs, fish, and cheese (especially parmesan).
Cayenne pepper is also known to reduce the pain from shingles. Cayenne should be taken in capsule form, added to food, and applied as cream. Powdered red pepper can be mixed into any body lotion or moisturizing cream. Apply to blisters several times a day. (Test first on a small area of skin. If irritation or pain becomes worse, discontinue use.) Capsaicin compounds in the pepper bring relief by blocking pain signals from nerves just under the skin. Do not get cayenne pepper in the eyes or on mucus membranes.
Pain may also be controlled with ice compresses and Epsom salt baths. Fifteen minutes of early morning sunshine can also work wonders.
People with shingles should avoid antibiotics, penicillin, tetracycline, aspirin, and Tylenol. They should go on a cleansing diet to help alkalize the system. Organic carrot juice, rose hip tea, apple juice, celery, beets, cucumbers, cabbage, and natural cranberry juice should be consumed daily during healing.
Patients with shingles should avoid acid forming foods including fried foods, salt, and soft drinks. They should also avoid refined foods high in sugar content. To be on the safe side, they should also limit all artificial flavorings, nitrates (bacon and processed meats), and food colorings.
* Note - the information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
** Most of the articles in this online herbal encyclopedia were first published by the North Georgia News in a weekly column titled Every Green Herb (by Janice Boling).
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