Shingles natural treatment is a really worthwhile topic, especially when you consider that every year, one million Americans experience a shingles outbreak. In the U.S. alone, one in three people are said to be affected by shingles at some point in his or her lifetime. Shingles are known for causing nerve pain, itching, fever and fluid-filled blisters. A weakened immune system can make shingles more likely to occur and can also make symptoms of shingles worse.
Shingles is caused by the same virus as chickenpox. In fact, shingles occur in approximately 10 percent of people who previously had chickenpox. There is also an age factor with shingles risk. Unfortunately, the older you get the higher your risk of shingles. Roughly half of all shingle cases occur in people who are 50 or older.
Thankfully, there is shingles natural treatment, including foods you should eat to boost your immune system as well as foods you should avoid. Plus there are essential oils for shingles and a variety of options when it comes to natural supplements. Overall, anything you can do to boost your immune system can go a long way both to prevent and naturally treat an unpleasant case of shingles.
Today, shingles is usually treated with a combination of medications, which are used to lower the severity of pain and help the scabs heal more quickly. However, many people have also successfully turned to alternative therapies to lower their odds of getting shingles in the first place, building up their immunity and managing pain. Several studies have investigated the efficacy of complementary and alternative medicines in reducing the pain of nerve damage left over after shingles. Alternative approaches that seem to offer hope for managing long-term pain with few side effects include:
- improving someone’s diet to foster better gut health/immunity
- neural therapy
- using antiviral essential oils (such as oregano oil or peppermint)
- the Traditional Chinese Medicine practice of cupping and bleeding
- the use of Chinese herbs and adaptogens
According to studies done since the 1990s, all of these strategies have shown some benefit in reducing pain symptoms and other shingles symptoms, even when used without standard or conventional prescription treatments. One study published in the Journal of Therapeutics found that alternative therapies combined with selected medications, showed an average pain reduction of 72.1 percent to 77 percent in patients with herpes zoster. Almost two-thirds of the 56 patients with long-term pain reported pain reductions of between 75 percent and 100 percent.
Shingles Symptoms Takeaways
- Shingles is a painful skin virus that emerges after someone has chickenpox, following a reactivation of the virus called “varicella zoster” (VZV) that has been dormant for some time.
- Almost one out of three people will develop shingles during a lifetime. As you get older, your risk goes up, since studies show that most people (over half) who develop shingles are over the age of 60.
- What are some of the most common risk factors for developing shingles symptoms? These include older age, having a weak immune system or poor gut health, a history of a disease that affects the immune system, being under a lot of stress, and taking certain prescriptions, among others.
- If you notice a rash but aren’t sure if it’s shingles or something else, the fact that shingles develops on either the left or right side of the body, but not both, is a good indicator that the rash is not due to another illness. This one-sided trait makes shingles different than most rashes caused by things like bug bites, food reactions or beauty product allergies.
- Unfortunately even after the rash clears up after about two to four weeks, pain might still be experienced for up to several more weeks as the nerves recalibrate and recover from the virus. This is called “postherpetic neuralgia” (PHN) and is considered to be the most common complication of shingles.
- Common risk factors for shingles symptoms include older age, especially being over 60; being a woman; having a history of a disease that affects the immune system; receiving an organ transplant; taking drugs that affect the immune system; having a family history of shingles; being Caucasian; experiencing injuries or nerve damage; and stress and poor gut health.
- Unlike chickenpox, shingles normally isn’t considered a contagious virus.
What Is Shingles?
Shingles (herpes zoster) is a medical condition in which the sufferer experiences a rash or blisters on the skin. It’s caused by the varicella-zoster virus — the same virus that causes chickenpox. Shingles can remain in one area of the body (localized zoster) or it can spread (disseminated zoster). Many people wonder why having chicken pox doesn’t provide shingles immunity. According to medical experts, once you have chicken pox, it is a virus that stays in your body. For most of us, the virus remains dormant causing no issues. However, some people have their virus reactivated, especially at times of weakened immune function, and this is when a shingles outbreak occurs.
Shingles usually only affects a small area of just one side of the body and pain is the common initial symptom of shingles. A few days later, you may likely see a red rash, but not always since some people have pain without a rash. Do shingles itch? Yes, they can definitely itch. In addition to pain and itching, having shingles can also result in burning, numbness, sensitivity to touch, and/or tingling in the affected area. Shingles blisters filled with fluid are also common. People with shingles can also experience fever, headaches, fatigue or light sensitivity.
Even though shingles are most common on the left or right side of the torso, it is possible to have shingles on the face. Again, it’s usually around one side of the face or neck or even around one eye.
Shingles duration is most often between three to five weeks. The majority of people will only experience shingles one time, but it is possible to get shingles on multiple occasions.
The people most at risk for developing shingles include those:
- With a weakened immune system (such as someone with cancer)
- Older than 50 years of age
- Who have been recently ill
- Under excessive stress
- Have experienced major trauma
Shingles Natural Treatment
Clearly shingles is no fun, but the good news is that shingles natural treatment is not hard to do, not expensive and the following suggestions can all be done in the comfort of your own home. Much of shingles natural treatment is aimed at boosting the immune system since shingles is caused by a virus.
Top Foods for Shingles
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.
Water — Adequate hydration is the key to flushing out the virus from your system. Try to drink a glass every 2 hours.
Garlic and onions — Both raw garlic and onion contain allicin, which can help boost immune function.
Foods rich in vitamin C — Add orange and yellow fruits and vegetables to increase your vitamin C intake, which will help to boost your immune system and speed healing.
Green leafy vegetables — These vegetables are high in beta-carotene and calcium, which can boost immune function.
Foods to Avoid For Faster Healing
Sugar — Decreases white blood cells that help fight off infection.
Fruit juices — Although orange juice contains some vitamin C, it is not as high in vitamin C as whole fruits or vegetables.
Caffeine — Depletes the body of hydration, so avoid it.
Carbonated beverages — These beverages promote a more acidic system, so try to limit them during the acute illness.
Fried foods — Promotes an acidic environment, so best to avoid these foods.
#1 Vitamin C (1,000mg 3-4x daily)
Helps with immune system function and boosts white blood cells. Intravenous C plus oral can lead to remission in 72 hours.
#2 Echinacea (500 mg 3x daily)
Echinacea is an herb known for helping the body fight off infections and viruses.
#3 Oregano oil (500mg 2x daily)
Oil of Oregano has a powerful antiviral effect.
#4 Vitamin B12 (1000-5000 mcg daily)
Vitamin B12 helps promote faster recovery and reduced pain. Injectible works best.
#5 Zinc (50 mg daily)
Zinc supports immune function and has an antiviral effect. It works best when taken at the first sign of illness.
#6 Vitamin E .Oral and topical.
#7 Adenosine Monophosphate. Injection.
#8 Capsaicin Cream. Topical.
#9 Fish Oil.
# 10 Monolaurin.
# 11 Grapefruit Seed extract.
# 12 Echinacea.
# 14 Elderberry/ rosemary/ olive leaf/ St Johns Wort/ Avena Sativa/ valerian/ skullcap/ Hops
# 15 Lysine.
# 16 ALA
# 17 Hydrogen Peroxide Gel
#19 Green clay
# 20 Activated Charcoal.
# 21 Tens
# 22 Vitamin B1 and B6.
# 23 Magnesium Glycinate.
# 24 Olive Leaf Extract.
# 25 MMS.
Geranium Essential Oil
Geranium essential oil has been studied and shown to actually reduce pain due to post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN) following a shingles outbreak. With topical application, essential oil of geranium has been shown to relieve painful sensations within mere minutes. It even outperformed topical capsaicin, which is often recommended for shingles pain, but can take weeks to improve the pain.
Other essential oil options for shingles natural treatment include:
- Tea tree essential oil
- Lemongrass essential oil
- Lavender essential oil
- Peppermint essential oil
- Black cumin seed oil
- Origanum Oil
You can take 2 drops of an essential oil and mix it with 1/4 teaspoon of coconut oil and rub it on areas of shingles pain. It’s a good idea to perform a patch test on a less sensitive area of skin to make sure you don’t have a negative reaction to the essential oil. You can also diffuse these essential oils for their antiviral benefits.
Other Natural Treatments
Applying honey topically to shingles rash is another scientifically-backed shingles natural treatment. A 2012 in vitro study showed that both manuka honey, as well as clover honey, showed significant antiviral activity against varicella-zoster virus. Simply apply the honey directly to problem areas a few times per day.
Colloidal Oatmeal Baths
A shingles natural treatment that doesn’t cost a lot, but can really help with the common shingles symptom of itching, is bathing in water infused with colloidal oatmeal. Make sure the bath is on the cooler side since hot water will only make itching worse.
You can use cool, wet compresses on shingles blisters to reduce their fire. These cooling compresses can help with shingles pain, sensitivity and itching. It’s a shingles natural treatment that only requires some running water and a wash cloth. Just make sure to change the wash cloth with each session.
According to Mayo Clinic, reducing stress in your life as much as possible is actually a key shingles natural treatment. This lifestyle change can help to prevent and treat shingles since stress reduction is such an overall immune system and health booster.