Shingles (Herpes Zoster)

An acute CNS infection involving primarily the dorsal root ganglia, characterized by vesicular eruption and neuralgic pain in the areas of the skin supplied by peripheral sensory nerves arising in the affected root ganglia.

Shingles, or herpes zoster, is a viral infection of sensory nerve cells caused by the same virus (Varicella zoster) that causes chicken pox. The virus remains latent in the dorsal root ganglia of the spinal cord after the initial attack of chicken pox. The disease occurs most frequently in people over the age of 50. It may be activated through such factors as trauma to the spinal cord and its roots through surgery or X-ray therapy. Shingles is characterized by pain along an affected nerve and its branches and the eruption of blisters over skin areas supplied by the nerve. An attack will usually be preceded by a few days of intense pain in the affected areas. Then many extremely painful and itchy blisters develop, normally lasting 7 -14 days. These eventually form crusty scabs and fall off. Following such an outbreak, the pain may continue even when the blisters have disappeared, especially in the elderly. This may go on for months and can be more painful than the original infection.

Actions indicated for the processes behind this disease:

Nervine Tonics will `feed’ the traumatized nerve tissue.

Nervine Relaxants may ease the associated pain, but will definitely lesson associated anxiety or tension.

Anti-inflammatories will reduce the inflammatory response.

Anti-spasmodics will alleviate muscular tension developed in response to the pain.

Anti-microbials may help deal with the virus infection, but it is very intransigent.

System support:

The nervous system needs as much help as it can get! As shingles often occurs in the elderly, almost any system tonic might be appropriate. Signs and symptoms guide the therapist.

Specific Remedies:

There are no specifics for shingles recorded in the European traditions. Based upon personal observation, however, they may exist. Please refer to pgs. 1-22 thru 1-24.

One possible prescription:
Avena sativa

Hypericum perforatum

Echinacea spp.

Scutellaria laterifolia
equal parts to 5ml of tincture 4 times a day

Mentha piperita oil applied topically may reduce the pain through a mild local numbing effect. Do not attempt this if the skin is extremely sensitive.

Colloidal oatmeal powder may be dusted on the effected skin to act as a dry lubricant, hopefully reducing pain from contact with clothes.

Actions supplied by this combination:

  • Nervines Tonic (Avena sativa, Hypericum perforatum)
  • Nervines Relaxant (Hypericum perforatum, Scutellaria laterifolia, Artemisia vulgaris)
  • Anti-inflammatory (Hypericum perforatum)
  • Anti-spasmodic (Hypericum perforatum, Scutellaria laterifolia)
  • Anti-microbial (Hypericum perforatum, Echinacea spp.)

Broader Context of Treatment :

Good nutrition and support of general health are crucial. Pain relief medication containing acetaminophen, e.g. Tylenol, may prolong the illness. Pharmacological research suggests that capsaic in, from Capsicum minimum, may be helpful as a pain reliever, and thus capsules of cayenne may be helpful. The following supplementation is recommended:

Vitamin B complex 100mg three times a day with food

Vitamin C 2g twice a day

Lysine (an amino acid) 500mg twice daily

Infections in the Genito-Urinary System

A range of anti-microbials are uniquely suited for this part of the body, and are usually herbs rich in an essential oil, examples include :

Achillea millefolium Agropyron repens Arctostaphylosuva-ursi

Barosma betulina
Juniperus communis Petroselinum crispum

For details of appropriate herbal treatments and contra-indications, please refer to the section on the urinary system. Consider an approach to the treatment of prostatitis :

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Written by David L. Hoffmann BSc Hons MNIMH

Explore Wellness in 2021