Natural Treatments For Shingles: Pain Relief And Immune Support
Natural Treatments For Shingles: Pain Relief And Immune SupportAugust 7th, 2018 by Joseph Olejak
Shingles (Varicella Zoster Virus or VZV) is a painful disease that can start as a tingle and rapidly develop into a full-blown rash with painful blisters. The disease is a virus that lies dormant in nerve cells from previous exposure to chicken pox. The mechanism why the virus gets reactivated is poorly understood, but it is well known that the elderly, people under stress, those with weak immune systems and patients who take immuno-suppressive therapy are at much higher risk for getting shingles.
Conventional medical treatments typically focus only on pain and rash symptoms, but do not address strengthening the nervous or immune system. Steroids, analgesics, and anti-viral drugs are often employed to end an acute breakout, but about one in five people who get shingles are left with a painful chronic condition called post-herpetic neuralgia.
Pharmaceutical treatments may lessen the duration of the acute stage, but they offer little help in supporting people who progress to a chronic illness because they have weakened immune systems, stress, or damaged nerves.
Alternative treatments provide a realistic and science-based approach to recovery. In this article, we will look at natural treatments for shingles and post-herpetic syndrome.
Chiropractic for Nerve Healing
Many would not consider chiropractic a treatment for anything but back pain, but when you take a look at how chiropractic actually works you can begin to appreciate why it would be effective for shingles. Take, for instance, shingles that affects the sciatic nerve. If there is an entrapment of the nerve in the spine in addition to the infection, it is going to affect how that nerve functions. Dr. Irwin Korr, an osteopath at Upstate Medical Center in Buffalo NY, discovered over 40 years ago that nerve entrapment diminishes something called axoplasmic flow in a nerve. Axoplasmic flow is the very slow, about one millimeter per day, movement of proteins and nutrients along a nerve. What he found is that manipulation improved this movement and allowed healing along a nerve. This is the art and science of chiropractic.
Pulsed EMF to Promote Blood Circulation
Pusled Electromagnetic Frequencies can be used to improve immune function and reduce pain. Many studies have been conducted in Europe (more info here https://qrs-international.com/studies/?lang=en) showing that the mechanism of healing has to do with increasing blood circulation via magnetic waves. Since nerves do not have their own blood supply and are considered the “deadest tissue in the body” in terms of metabolic activity, stimulating blood circulation is a sound strategy for healing.
St. John’s Wort and Licorice for Anti-Viral Therapy
These two herbs are not commonly known as anti-viral herbs because they have been traditionally most commonly used for depression and stomach ailments, respectively. Recent research has shown, however, that both St. John’s Wort (https://bit.ly/2KnCKHA) and Licorice (https://bit.ly/2LTHaL7) have powerful anti-viral properties. The herbs work by different mechanisms. St. John’s Wort seems to work by attacking the envelope of the virus. Some viruses, like VZV, are enveloped and this is why St. John’s Wort is effective. It should be noted here that there are three active compounds in St. John’s Wort — Hypericin, Hyperforin and Pseudohyperforin — and they appear to have a synergistic effect. Preparations only containing one ingredient will likely be less effective or not effective at all. One final note on St. John’s Wort and that is Drug-Herb side effects. St. John’s Wort does increase the clearance of medications out of the body by improving an enzyme system called CP450. If you are on meds, be aware that while on St. John’s Wort they may be less effective as the drugs may be cleared out of the body quicker than normal. The only other side effect of St. John’s Wort is photosensitivity. So, stay out of the sun while you on this herb. Licorice at high doses (11 mL per day or higher) may temporarily increase blood pressure. If you plan on taking licorice long term monitor blood pressure.
Echinacea and Andrographis for Immune Support
Long misunderstood in term s of how to use this herb and often sold as low-quality preparations, echinacea has gotten a bad rap. Let’s clear up a few misconceptions:
- Echinacea is NOT effective short term.
- Echinacea is NOT for acute dips in immunity.
- Echinacea is NOT anti-bacterial or anti-viral.
So what is it good for?
- Echinacea enhances the activity of white blood cells (leukotaxis).
- Echinacea modulates immune activity via TH17 cells.
- Echinacea has direct effects on CB2 (cannabinoid) receptors in the spleen.
It should be noted that all these effects are long term effects of taking a LOW DOSE of echinacea LONG TERM. These effects are also best obtained when using a preparation that includes E. purpurea AND E. angustifolia so that the active constituents of both plants are readily available to the body. Only a high quality preparation of echinacea can provide that.
Andrographis, known as the king of bitters, is the herb that could be called the mirror image herb of echinacea.
- Andrographis CAN & SHOULD be taken short term.
- Androgrpahis is an immune stimulator.
While both of these herbs can be powerful allies in enhancing immunity neither one is anti-bacterial or anti-viral, but instead support our own on-board and innate immune functions which are anti-bacterial and anti-viral via the white blood cells.
By using a combination of herbs at the appropriate times, people who have been subjected to VZV (and who will have that as a dormant virus for life) can support the nervous system and the immune system in ways that will make a breakout of the virus extremely rare or non-existant without the health risks of taking medication.
About the Author:
Dr. Olejak is a chiropractor and herbalist at the Delmar Wellness Center in Delmar NY. (www.delmarwellness.com) A practitioner since 1989, his focus is on treating the whole patient, not just the disease..