· Natural Remedies · How To Prevent & Relieve The Pain Of Shingles
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How To Prevent & Relieve The Pain Of Shingles

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.

shingles remedies

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.

shingles remedies

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.

shingles remedies

Get Fishy

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.

shingles remedies

Take Supplements 

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.

shingles remedies

Get Vaccinated 

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.

shingles remedies

Treatment

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?

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Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.
I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee

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  • I first cam down with a shingles outbreak in my 20s. I was told by a doctor in Greece that I had a sun allergy. I am from Florida and knew that the diagnosis was horse feathers. When I returned to France, I was correctly diagnosed with shingles and asked to bath with a medicated soap and wash my clothes in hot water and take olive leaf extract. The outbreak subsided in a week and I felt better.

    Since then, I tend to have shingles outbreaks a few times a year (when I am extremely stressed). I take Red Marine algae (2 capsules, 3 x a day) and take Olive Leaf extract tincture. I also apply silver, Marissa essential oil (lemon balm) to the blisters.

    With my most recent outbreak, the shingles spread from my torso to my legs. In a bout of desperation, I also applied the Olive Leaf tincture to my blisters on my legs. Initially, the application of the tincture on the blisters stung (due to the alcohol in the tincture), yet only for a few moments. The relief was immediate. Note that Olive Leaf tincture stains. I wore an old pair of jeans and an old t-shirt to prevent the tincture from staining my bed clothes and furniture.

    One further complication of shingles is depression. I try to find comfort with essential oils and baths. Yuzu is my go to oil when life becomes dark. I love the Yuzu from Aromatic International. I grew up on an orange grove and can attest that their Yuzu eo smells like it should.

  • For years I suffered from very painful cold sores which are also caused by the herpes virus (a bit different from shingles but related) I read in an herb book to drink tea or red wine, the tanic acid helps get rid of the virus. Whenever I felt the tingling in or around my mouth, I started drinking black tea. I hold it in my mouth near the site or place a warm tea bag on the outside. This would clear up the problem very quickly. Years ago when my husband broke out in shingles on his back I would use a cotton ball to apply strong, warm black tea on the area. I also made him drink several strong cups. We didn’t have insurance so we couldn’t afford to go to the doctor. Since then we both drink black tea almost daily and neither of us have had an outbreak since then. If we ever do though, I will be sure to try some of the suggestions listed in addition to drinking the tea (or red wine).

    • I, too, suffer from cold sores. However, I would take a cold sore any old day before I would want to get shingles! If that sore hurts that bad on my lip, I can only dare to imagine the pain of those blisters in a group, on my body!! OUCH! I want to mention that when you feel that little itch and/or warmth on your lip, meaning a cold sore is imminent, take an ice cube and hold it on the area for a bit to remove the fever. Oftentimes, that will head the sore off at the pass! As far as shingles go, I am 65, and (knock on wood) I have never experienced these awful, painful lesions, however, I have taken care of people who have. THAT was painful enough for me! I remember caring for my daddy when mama was hospitalized and he was pretty stressed. At that time, they were married 65years and had not been separated often. The shingles made their presence all over his upper back. The pain I saw him go through, even with a doctor’s care and pharmaceuticals, was heartbreaking! Not one of my favorite memories, God bless him and rest his soul. :-(

  • I too had shingles at a younger age, my late 20’s. I was diagnosed by my doctor about 4 days after the on set of symptoms. I had covered the spot with a small circular band-aide to keep me from scratching at it, but when I peeled it off, my skin came with it! That’s when I went to the doctor.
    I’ve been told it will only present on the same half (right or left) of you body as the 1st time. I believe I may have had it occur once, or twice more. The possible second time, I only had 1 blister, but the pain was deep and tingled for weeks after it was no longer visible. What is frustrating, is that, because of my age, I had a nurse tell me it “probably wasn’t shingles” ! This, even after telling her I was diagnosed by a doctor who had examined my symptoms. All she had to do was check my history.

  • I got shingles twice between the ages of 23 and 25. My solution was to find a different job that didn’t cause me to stress out so much. I’m now 32 and haven’t had another case of it.

    I panicked the first time because I had no clue what it was, and because I was so young, my doctor had a hard time with the diagnosis. Once you’ve had it once, you’ll know the tell-tell signs of it later on. It comes back in the same spot, and starts as a burning/itching pain a few days before the blisters come up. Getting a prescription at the first signs does wonders for pain and recovery time!

  • On the Life Extension site, they have a very good article about shingles and one of the things it mentions is the heartburn drug called cimetidine hows it may help symptoms. I wish I had know this a couple of years ago when my husband had an out break of shingles.

  • I was seeing a naturopathic doctor for other issues when I popped up with a case of shingles. He recommended that I take a simple Lysine supplement for it, and it worked quickly and beautifully! No after-pains.

  • I got shingles last year the pain began on the thigh of my right leg then a few days later a blister formed on my belly, then it really took off. As a preventative I take 500mg of L-Lysine each day, if I feel really stressed I up it to 1000mg a day, I find it helps calm me down. Two of my siblings also take it for their cold sores which is also related to the Shingles virus.

  • wish i had this info last month. i got it and had just turned 60 two months earlier. wasn’t really stressed so don’t know why. other terrible things have happened to me after i got it, water heater broke, a huge tree branch came down (just missed my house) lost my power and phone service for a day and a half, my mother passed. the pain and blisters were the worst! one of my sons got it when he was 26 so you just never know. better to be safe than sorry.

  • My husband got shingles on his head, forehead and near his eye. He sought treatment quickly and the rash cleared up within a short period of time. However, about 4-6 weeks later my husband suffered a stroke, a mild stroke, but a stroke all the less. In searching the internet, I found that people who had shingles, especially around the head and eyes have a higher chance of suffering from stroke. He’s doing fine now, but I so wish the physicians would have made us aware of this; but I’m not so sure they, the doctors, knew about this relationship between shingles and stroke.

  • I’ve suffered from shingles for many years, tried the vaccine about a year ago (which didn’t help avoid new outbreaks) but there is medication you can take at the first sign of an outbreak (that burning, tingling pain) that will stop the virus in it’s tracks. There are actually 3 different meds, I believe all in the same family. Worth looking into if you, like me, suffer from shingles repeatedly. Better than ending up with massive scabs, especially when you’re already stressed :)

    • Hi, So good to know someone else that suffers like I do with constant shingle outbreaks, usually every couple of months. I had a new doctor tell me last fall, that you only get them once or twice in a lifetime, when I told here how frequently I was breaking out( aprox. every 6 weeks), and she said it’s impossible. My last 3 outbreaks the shingles has spread, not just from my upper buttocks area, but to my hairline on my forehead. she told me it wasn’t shingles till I showed her my blistering sores on my buttocks, and she said, you’re right, that’s shingles, but she still doesn’t help control the problem. What to do, nothing seems to work, just temporarily.

      • The drug you may want to try first on a daily basis to help reduce the shingles is valacyclovir. It works for both shingles & herpes sores.

  • I was one of the exception cases. I contracted shingles when I was 18. It took over a week before I was diagnosed properly. A big part of that was my own stubbornness. The school nurse, when I finally went to her about it, said she didn’t know what it was and very forcefully told me to get to my doctor.

    A lot of pain and bad treatments followed in the next month and a half. I left that doctor and found another that was better. Because of all of this, I still suffer from PHN. That was over 20 years ago. (Oh that makes me feel old!) most of the time I can bear the pain, other times I am laid out flat by it.

    I have tried many things and only one has worked so far for the PHN pain, rubbing fresh lemon or therapeutic grade lemon oil over the area. There are a couple things in here that I haven’t tried, but are similar, like the pineapple and grapefruit seed oil.

    Thanks for this post, Jillee, and thanks everyone for your comments!

  • Such a great topic, Jillee, thanks for all the great info. I’ll be keeping an eye on this one for the other great tips from readers too. Fingers crossed I’ll never need it but if I do, I know where to go.

  • My husband had shingles 7 years ago when our 6th child was born. He went in to a Dr. because he thought he’d broken his ribs – intense pain! I looked up home remedies for shingles, and the one I had on hand was grapefruit seed extract. We added 10 drops to about a tablespoon of olive oil. He rubbed a little over the painful areas as often as needed/wanted. It was supposed to help clear up the virus sooner than would happen naturally, but I forgot to tell my husband the goal. 20 minutes after his first usage, he said “Wow, that stuff really WORKS!” …huh? It totally relieved the pain. Whenever he started to hurt, he would rub a little more on (3-4 times a day at first). He also recovered much faster than the Dr. said he would. He’s never had a repeat but if he does, we know what we’re trying!

    P.S. Six children, and no chicken pox. The Dr. was convinced we would be sick, especially with a newborn. I guess you never know. : )

    P.P.S. We get our GSE from Beeyoutiful.com.

  • I would not trust a vaccine. Shingles Can be caused by the vaccine for chicken pox which lies dormant in your body- arising when immune systems gets low. I have had shingles twice and have treated it with a paste of goldenseal powder and water which effectively dried it up both times within 4 days

  • I haven’t had them,but both my Dad and one my Sisters had them and they were miserable.Both them happened to get them at the worst possible times. My Dads happened about 12 years ago when one of brothers got married. And my Sisters happened 4 years ago when my baby Sister got married. It’s intersting that they both came down with it during stressful Times. This information would have been nice to know.All of the kids in my family have had chicken pox, but they didn’t have a vaccine for it when in I was growing up. My Dad was in his 60s and my sister had just turned 40.

  • Shingles always begins at exactly the same place on your body, and will start with an itching, tingling, or pain sensation…mine is always pain. The virus attaches to a specific nerve in your body, so the location of reoccurance is predictable. I always check that one spot on my body for any pain when I get out of the bath so that I can catch it early and start medication. I just got the vaccination recently, and am praying it helps!! Shingles is truly awful. I will certainly try some of your suggestions, Jill.

  • My dad had them and had the intense after pain for the 2 years before he passed away. So I knew I wanted to got the shingles shot early on. I was retired and not under any stress but a couple years later I got shingles anyway. Back then I didn’t have any EOs.

    I was very lucky. I do believe it was a much milder case than it would have been without the shot. Dr. gave me an anti viral med. The blisters were gone in about 10 days or less. I had very little pain, more of a stinging than the intense pain you hear described.

    So I would still recommend the shot.

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