Facts about Shingles and How to Treat It Naturally
Like me, Anna was told as a child after having chicken pox that she would never have it again. Later in her adult life, it resurfaced as shingles, and this time it came back with a vengeance. The lesions, itching, fever, irritability, restlessness, pain, and confusion were unbearable. Anna suffered for months! To her it was a nightmare.
Shingles is a serious disease caused from the virus, varicella zoster, which is the same virus that causes chicken pox. After getting chicken pox which is the milder version of the disease, the virus lies dormant in the nerve cells for many years and in numerous cases re-emerge as shingles later in life when the immune system is greatly compromised. This is why the elderly usually get it more frequently. Younger people develop shingles because of situations that weaken their immune systems making them more susceptible to the disease such as, lack of sleep, poor eating habits, and severe stress.
Once the virus gets in the body, one can never get rid of it, and it can pop up again at any time. It is therefore a misconception to think that once a child has chicken pox it can never reoccur in his or her lifetime. Shingles goes deeper than what is seen on the surface of the skin. It significantly affects the nervous system, since the nerves are the ones that carry the virus. The virus in turn carries inflammation. In addition, it is contagious which means that an infected person can spread it to others. It is therefore advisable to stay home and away from other people until you are completely healed if you are infected with it. During an outbreak, severe pain develops in areas such as the face and neck, and small blisters called lesions appear on the skin around the area where the affected nerve is. The pain often last from two to four weeks. However, if it lasts for months it can develop into another condition called, postherpetic neuralgia which is an even more painful condition that affects the nerve fibers due to nerve damage or irritation. When scabs grow over the lesions, the patient is no longer contagious.
Doctors often prescribe Acyclovir, some humongous, oval shaped, white tablets for this illness. Like any other medication, this too has side effects. A loss of appetite, nausea, and sometimes hallucinations are some of the side effects of taking this drug. There is no cure for shingles, but there are things that you can do to speed up the healing process if you do have it and to keep it at bay if you don’t.
First of all, the key to keeping this disease at bay and for a hasty recovery is to keep your immune system strong. You can do this by eating foods that will fortify the system. Have a balanced meal and supplement your diet with multivitamins and minerals. Get plenty of rest; try to avoid overly stressful situations. Fighting this virus is not an easy task, and in order to gain victory over it, it is important to start treatment at the first signs of the illness which is the manifestation of a few lesions.
Vitamin E Oil, Licorice Root Gel, and St. John’s Wort Oil to the Rescue
Skin outbreaks usually accompany shingles, but regular usage of vitamin E oil will protect and nourish the skin leaving no trace of the disease. It can also be taken internally. After a bath or shower, massage the oil thoroughly into the skin. This will prevent the lesions from spreading, and promote a speedy recovery. Make sure that you apply this over your entire body and not just on the affected parts. Vitamin E oil on its own is usually very effective. Because of its antiviral prosperities, licorice root extract when applied directly on painful areas of the skin also acts as a barrier to the spreading of the virus. St. John’s wort oil relieves the pain and is considered to be an anti-inflammatory. Applying it to the uninfected areas of the skin will not only assist in pain reduction but strengthen the nerves as well.
Vitamin B12 Brings Relief
Taking B12 will shorten the recuperation time, as it also reduces the inflammation. It is suggested that 2,000 mg of sublingual vitamin B12 be taken daily during the course of the illness. Sublingual B12 (tablets that are placed under the tongue) is available in many health food stores and pharmacies nationwide and is recommended since it is more easily absorbed in the body this way.
Avoid Arginine Rich Foods
Arginine is an essential amino acid that facilitates children’s physical development. However, high intakes of arginine rich foods encourage the duplication of the varicella zoster virus and therefore must be avoided during the course of the illness. Some foods rich in arginine are peanuts, cashew nuts, chocolate, gelatin, peanut butter, and oats.
Herbs Can Play a Pivotal Role
Echinacea root known for its ability to fight infections is extremely effective in treating shingles. Used in some parts of Europe as an antibiotic, echinacea sends white blood cells to the infected areas. Coupled with asparagus, this is the perfect remedy for fighting this disease as the asparagus helps to boost the immune system. Both Echinacea and asparagus can be found in capsule form at your local health food stores, and they are safe.
Vitamin C-Another Warrior
As we all know, vitamin C fights infection. In the case of shingles, it prevents the varicella zoster virus from duplicating when taken at high doses, and may alleviate the inflammation. At high doses, however, one may experience side effects such as nausea and diarrhea, so it is important to find a dosage that your body can tolerate. The recommended dosage is 2,000mg taken five times daily, three hours apart.
Anna has fully recovered, and unlike her, I have not had the adult version of the disease as I have been taking every preventative measure necessary to keep it at bay. Build up your immune system, and apply vitamin E oil daily to protect your skin even if you do not have the disease. If you have had chicken pox as a child, you too should take every precaution necessary. It is sad to see so many people suffering from shingles, as it is immensely painful. Remember, “An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.”