According to the CDC, 1 in 3 Americans will develop shingles in their lifetime. Approximately 1 million American get shingles every year! About half of all shingles cases occur in people age 60 years or older, but anyone that has had chickenpox is susceptible to shingles. After a person recovers from chickenpox, the varicella zoster virus stays dormant in the body but can reactivate years later and cause shingles.
I’ve never had shingles but I’ve heard how excruciating the pain can be! Shingles causes a painful rash that can last from 2 to 4 weeks. A shingles complication called postherpetic neuralgia or PHN can also cause the pain to last for months or even years after the rash goes away. Sounds pretty awful!
The CDC says the only way to prevent shingles is to get vaccinated, but several recent studies have found a number of natural remedies which can help manage and relieve shingles and possibly even eliminate the virus.
Get Your Heart Pumping
Regular exercise like light hiking, swimming, or yoga can reduce the risk of shingles by reducing stress. UCLA research also found that practicing tai chi for 30 minutes, three times per week can trigger a 50% rise in antibodies that destroy the shingles virus.
Eat Your Fruits and Veggies
Eating a diet high in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants strengthens your immune system enabling it to be fight the shingles virus. A British study also found that citrus fruits specifically can reduce the risk of shingles by 33%. Eat one heaping cup of citrus fruits everyday to get the most benefit.
Fish contains L-lysine, an amino acid that stops the shingles virus from dividing. Eat 16 oz per week of salmon, tuna, mackerel, trout, cod or sardines which are especially great sources of L-lysine.
If you find that you’re not getting enough essential vitamins and minerals from your food you may want to take a high quality multivitamin to help strengthen your immune system. European studies have also found that taking 1,000 mg of olive leaf extract daily can help prevent shingles.
The CDC recommends that adults age 60 year or older receive the shingles vaccine, Zostavax®. A clinical trial of adults 60 years and older, found that the vaccine reduced the risk of shingles by 51% and the risk of PHN by 67%. If you’re interested in being vaccinated be sure to talk to your doctor.
If you get shingles despite taking preventative steps there are things you can do to get relief from symptoms…
- Talk to your doctor about several medicines that are available to treat shingles.
- Eat papaya and pineapple. These fruits contain proteolytic enzymes that can strip away the protective outer layers and heads of viruses. A German study found proteolytic enzymes to be as effective as some standard antiviral medications at relieving the pain from shingles and healing the rash. If you’re not a fan of papaya and pineapple, you can also take proteolytic enzymes in supplement form.
- Use colloidal silver topically or internally. Recent studies have found that there are specific silver receptors on human nerve tissue where the shingles virus is contained. The colloidal silver is able to attach itself to the virus and prevent it from replicating. Learn more about the uses of colloidal silver from my blog post a couple of months ago.
- Apply a mix of frankincense, melaleuca and lavender essentials oils. Get the recipe on Camp Wander.
- Be sure to keep the rash and blisters clean and dry. Try not to touch them and especially avoid popping or picking at them. Keep them covered as much as possible. The fluid from open blisters is infectious. A person with shingles can transmit the virus to those who have not have chickenpox. If the virus is transmitted to someone for the first time they would get chickenpox and not shingles. For people who have had chickenpox, shingles is not contagious.
Have you had any experience with natural remedies for shingles?