Shingles is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, the same virus
that causes chickenpox. After an attack of chickenpox, the virus lies dormant in
the nerve tissue. As we get older, it is possible for the virus to reappear in
the form of shingles. Shingles is estimated to affect 2 in every 10 persons in
their lifetime. This year, more than 500,000 people will develop shingles.
Fortunately, there is currently research being done to find a vaccine to prevent
What is shingles?
Shingles is an outbreak of a rash or blisters on the skin that
may be associated with severe pain. The pain is generally on one side of the
body or face.
Who is at risk for developing shingles?
Although it is most common in people over age 50, anyone who
has had chickenpox is at risk for developing shingles. Shingles is also more
common in people with weakened immune systems from HIV infection, chemotherapy
or radiation treatment, transplant operations and stress.
What are the symptoms of shingles?
Early signs of shingles include burning or shooting pain and
tingling or itching generally located on one side of the body or face. The rash
or blisters are present anywhere from one to 14 days.
Are other complications associated with shingles?
Yes. If shingles appears on the face, it can lead to
complications in hearing and vision. For instance, if shingles affects the eye,
the cornea can become infected and lead to temporary or permanent blindness.
Another complication of the virus is postherpetic neuralgia (PHN), a condition
where the pain from shingles persists for months, sometimes years, after the
shingles rash has healed.
Is any research being done to prevent shingles?
There is a national, multicenter study under way of an
experimental vaccine to prevent shingles, called the Shingles Prevention Study.
The Shingles Prevention Study is a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)
cooperative study representing a scientific collaboration among the VA, National
Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and Merck & Co., Inc., the
vaccine's producer. Results will be available after the study is completed at
the end of 2003.
of Communications & Public Liaison
National Institutes of Health
Nutritional and Herbal Therapy for
There are a few Chinese herbal patent formulas that can help
treat shingles and relieve symptoms.
Long Dan Xie Gan Wan
is usually taken in
combination with the formula above for the treatment of shingles.
- Chuan Xin Lian Antiphlogistic Tablets is an
- You can apply Superior Sore Throat Powder
topically to your skin. Mix it with a little water to make a paste.
It is also important to avoid foods that cause inflammation in
the body and depress the immune system. Avoid saturated fats, refined foods,
sugars, and juice.
- Include an antioxidant supplement with a
- Zinc (30-50 mg a day) and selenium
- B-complex (50-100 mg a day), plus extra B12
- Try rubbing St. John's Wort oil on the lesions for