Shingles is a viral infection, characterised first by an itching or tingling sensation under the skin, and then by a rash with raised fluid filled vesicles that appear only on one side of the body and usually follow an arc along a nerve. There may be a headache, fever and/or a general feeling of being unwell.
Unfortunately, shingles seems to be prevalent at the moment. Many Pharmacists have noticed a rise in cases, and there may be a couple of reasons for this:
Firstly, Medsafe has noted cases of shingles after vaccination for Covid-19 (both internationally and in New Zealand). They have not established a causal link but are monitoring this and I recommend reporting Shingles to CARM if this happens within a month of your COVID vaccination.
Secondly, Shingles is often related to stress, and these are stressful times we are living through. Metaphysically shingles is a disease of fear and tension, being too sensitive and waiting for the other shoe to drop. Louise Hay recommends the mantra “I am relaxed and peaceful because I trust the process of life. All is well in my world.” If you would like to know more about metaphysical causes of disease I suggest you look for the book “You can heal your life” by Louise Hay. It certainly is worth looking into.
Shingles can be a debilitating and painful illness. Previously this has been most common in the elderly, although it is becoming more common in younger adults. Data from the UK, which has not introduced a Varicella vaccination to their schedule continues to show that exposure to chickenpox as an adult acts like a booster, reminding your immune system of the virus. The benefit is direct exposure to a sick child, studies show parents and GPs had some protection, but that did not extend to teachers. Without exposure to the circulating wild chickenpox virus your body will not get that boost and shingles is more likely.
I have used homeopathy for shingles in both adults and children. With one particular client who declined antiviral medication, homeopathic, nutritional and herbal treatment her symptoms resolved faster than expected and she has had no complications or post herpetic neuralgia (nerve pain that can come after shingles). We have also treated constitutionally to support her immune system so she is less likely to get this again.
Homeopathy can support you to get through shingles.
The initial stages with the rash:
Rhus Tox – the most common remedy used for both chicken pox and shingles. It is a good remedy for younger adults or children. Classic red rash with fluid blisters, may have intense itching
Apis – burning and stinging pain with much swelling. Vesicles are large, may ulcerate. Worse for warmth and better for cold applications.
Mezereum – severe neuralgic pains, itching that after scratching turns to a burning pain. Worse from being touched. May be more appropriate for older adults with shingles.
There are two nosodes that I have used after other remedies to support the body and reduce risk of recurrence of the shingles.
Variolinum – small pox remedy, historically used for shingles for the pain and the rash. This in some cases is used while you have shingles, talk to your Homeopath about whether this is appropriate for you.
Varicella – not to be used during active shingles without professional advice, as this is made from the virus and there is a risk of flare.
Other things to consider:
Ensuring you are getting rest and drinking plenty of water is important. A diet high in whole foods and low in inflammatory promoting foods like sugar, processed foods and high levels of grains will also support healing.
Supplements that may help
Vitamin C- vitamin C supports both the innate and adaptive immune system, supporting the body to fight viral and bacterial infections. Take it regularly as it is water soluble and only lasts in the body for around an hour. Ease back the frequency if you start to get smelly farts or diarrhoea, you have reached “bowel tolerance”. Alternatively take lypospheric C, which is absorbed differently and means you can take less quantity and less often for the same effect. For an acute viral flare like shingles four times a day would be a good place to start.
Zinc is an important co-factor for many processes in the body and supports immune functioning for viral defences – it’s best taken early if possible.
Echinacea is my favourite immune modulating herb, taken three or four times daily it helps support the body to fight the infection.
Topically you can apply honey- preferably active Manuka honey but even clover honey has antiviral activity and can not only soothe but help fight the virus.
Oatmeal tepid baths may help as well- you can grind oats to a powder, or tie them in a muslin and throw into the bath water to get the moisturising and anti inflammatory benefits.
As always, this post does not constitute medical advice; see a GP or medical doctor for diagnosis, and seek help if you have any concerns. Early treatment within 3 days of the rash’s appearance is best to reduce complications like ongoing nerve pain. Please contact me at any time for an acute consult if you suspect you have, or have been diagnosed with shingles.