Shingles is an extremely painful condition that is caused by the herpes virus, which lies dormant in the body after having chickenpox, but can flare up again. You don’t have to suffer through it as there are some great natural therapies that really help. Read on for more information.
What are Shingles?
Shingles is caused by the herpes zoster virus, which affects the nerve endings in the skin. The symptoms include pain, tingling, burning, itching, or numbness in a certain part of the body. You may also find that you have a painful red, blistering rash, as well as fever, chills, and headaches. Even though the blisters usually dry up and start to disappear a week or two after appearing, the pain can still persist and sometimes lead to a condition called post herpetic neuralgia, where the pain can last for months or even years after the rash has gone.
Natural Therapies for Shingles
Natural therapies can be extremely helpful for shingles, lessening the symptoms and giving relief. However, it is still important that you consult your GP if you think you have shingles as they can try to shorten the infection and minimise the risk of complications (very important if the rash is near the eyes as it can cause temporary or permanent blindness). Use natural therapies in conjunction with standard treatments where required.
Some natural therapies that may provide you with relief include:
- Enzymes - enzymes such as papain and bromelain (found in papaya and pineapple respectively) can help to relieve pain and improve the skin. You can eat the fruit itself or take supplements containing these. You should not use these if you are on blood thinning medications.
- Capsaicin cream - capsaicin is the active ingredient in chillies and the cream containing this can be used for post herpetic neuralgia. When the cream is applied to the skin, the capsaicin depletes a neurochemical that transmits pain, thus giving a pain relieving effect.
- Cool compresses - a wet, cool compress placed on the affected area can help to reduce the pain of shingles.
- Antioxidants - antioxidants such as vitamins C and E can be helpful for containing the initial shingles infection and also help to protect your nerves from free radicals and other toxins that the virus releases.
- Homoeopathy - there are many homoeopathic remedies that are effective for shingles symptoms. You will need to consult a trained homoeopath but some remedies that may help include Ranunculus bulbosus, Rhus tox, arsenicum album, mezereum, lachesis, and apis.
- B Vitamins - are extremely important for nerve health, and an injection of vitamin B12 can help to lessen the pain associated with shingles.
- L lysine - is very effective against the herpes virus and it can help to reduce the severity and duration of shingles symptoms if started as soon as shingles occurs.
- Acupuncture - is useful for relieving the pain and stress that is associated with shingles and can help you to relax. There are specific points that are very useful. It can be used for early intervention or in advanced cases.
- Turmeric - a paste made from turmeric powder and applied to the affected areas can relieve pain and also accelerate healing.