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Immune | October 1, 2017 | Author: Naturopath



Shingles is a painful rash that is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox. The rash develops into itchy blisters, usually on one side of the body, either on the face, chest, back, abdomen or pelvis. The most common place is under the ribs, leading towards the naval, the vaginal tissue and inside the mouth. Due to the fact that this virus affects the nerve endings in the skin, the rash will appear on one side of the body running along a nerve. For example it may start under the ribs and run from the naval around to the spine. Shingles can occur at any age and approximately one in three people will develop shingles at some stage during their lifetime.


Shingles often begins with intense pain, burning or tingling on an area of skin on the trunk or face. This may be accompanied with flu-like symptoms such as body aches and pains or a fever. Approximately two to three days later, a painful red rash appears on this area of skin, often distributed in a band across one side of the body or face. This rash begins as a group of small red bumps that quickly become blisters filled with clear fluid.

The fluid in the blisters eventually becomes cloudy, and they break open to form a crusty surface. After five days, no additional blisters appear, and it can take up to 5 weeks for the skin to heal and return to normal.

What Causes Shingles?

What Causes Shingles?Shingles is caused by the virus varicella zoster. After someone has recovered from chickenpox, the virus remains in their body, in an inactive state in the nerves that supply sensation to the skin. In ten to twenty per cent of people who have had chickenpox, the inactive virus will become active again. When this happens, the virus multiplies and spreads along the nerve it has been occupying, to the area of skin supplied by that nerve, where it causes the pain and rash of shingles.

Is Shingles Contagious?

Shingles is not contagious and cannot be caught off someone who has an acute case. Shingles can only occur if someone has had chickenpox in the past.

What triggers the chickenpox virus to become active again and cause shingles is not understood. However, it is thought that when the immune system is not functionally optimally the virus can become re-activated.

How Natural Therapies Can Help Shingles


Lysine treats shingles by speeding up the recovery time, as well as reducing the chance of recurrence.  Lysine works as a preventative as it stops the virus from spreading due to the fact that it competes with arginine.  Arginine is another amino acid that helps the herpes virus replicate. Taking lysine will interfere with the availability and/or usability of arginine by viruses and slow their replication.  L-lysine is an essential amino acid that the body needs. 

LysineUnfortunately, the body can’t make lysine and is therefore obtained form foods in the diet or with supplementation. Foods that contain lysine include beans, legumes, brewer’s yeast, fish and meat as well as dairy products. Animal proteins like meat, poultry and eggs contain the highest amounts of lysine so deficiencies are usually found only amongst strict vegans. 3 grams per day of lysine is recommended in an acute case.

Avoiding foods that are high in arginine is also advised

These include nuts and seeds such as peanuts, almonds, pecans and cashews, as well as chocolate, caffeine, oats and soy.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is extremely effective at eliminating the varicella-zoster virus. A large portion of the published research looking at vitamin C use with shingles has involved intravenous treatment, however large doses of oral vitamin C (until bowel tolerance is reached), have still been reported as being highly beneficial for the complete cessation of pain within two hours of the first dose. Drying of the blisters within one day and complete clearing of the blisters within three days of treatment was also noted in multiple studies.


Echinacea helps the body to rid itself of microbial infections. It is effective against both bacterial and viral attacks. It can be used for any infection anywhere in the body for both acute and chronic illnesses and works on promoting the health of the immune system by boosting and balancing it. It stimulates the lymphatic system, promoting drainage and elimination of toxins, and helps to prevent and fight potential infections.

It also contains copper, iron, iodine, vitamins A, C, and E, and potassium which are all important nutrients to help boost the immune system.

Olive Leaf

Olive leaf extractThe active component of the herb called Oleuropein, has the potential to eradicate virtually every harmful virus, bacteria and protozoa known to humans.

Olive leaf works by putting an unbreakable and impenetrable force field around any given virus so it cannot move from cell to cell and continue to grow and replicate.

Additionally, olive leaf interferes with critical amino acid production which is essential for viruses to grow and replicate. It also has the ability to contain viral infection and/or spread by inactivating viruses and preventing virus shedding, budding, or assembly at the cell membrane.

Diet for Shingles

Foods high in B-vitamins. The nervous system is under attack by the shingles virus. Therefore it is important to include foods high in B-vitamins such as grass-fed beef, cultured dairy, eggs, organic chicken and wild-caught fish.

Garlic and onions. Both raw garlic and onions contain allicin, which can help boost immune function.

Foods rich in vitamin C. Add orange and yellow fruits and vegetables to increase vitamin C intake, which will help to boost the immune system and speed up the healing process.

Green leafy vegetables. These vegetables are high in beta-carotene and calcium, which can boost immune function.

Foods to Avoid For Faster Healing

  • Sugar. It decreases white blood cells that help fight off viral infections.
  • Caffeine. Depletes the body of hydration.
  • Carbonated beverages.  These beverages promote a more acidic system and are very high in sugar.
  • Fried foods. Promote an acidic environment, so best to avoid these foods

Other Natural Treatments

Manuka Honey

Applying honey topically to shingles rash is another scientifically-backed shingles natural treatment.  A 2012 study showed that Manuka honey showed significant antiviral activity against varicella-zoster virus. Simply apply the honey directly to the shingles rash two to three times per day.

Capsicum Cream

Capsaicin, the active ingredient obtained from chilli peppers, can be useful as a pain reliever for shingles.

Capsicum creamThe pain receptors in the skin are located close to the surface and capsaicin works by desensitizing sensory nerve fibers helpng with neuralgia. Be aware there may be a burning sensation untill the nerves are desensitised and this may take a few hours. The cream needs to be continuously applied untill results appear. The burning is just a sensation and no skin reation is occuring.

Colloidal Oatmeal Baths

Bathing in water infused with colloidal oatmeal works well for shingles that have become itchy. Colloidal oatmeal refers to oats that are finely milled and then suspended in water, another liquid or gel. In a liquid or gel, colloidal oatmeal disperses evenly. This suspension of oats allows it to be applied and easily absorbed, providing many protective benefits for sensitive, irritated skin.

Cool Compresses

A cool, wet compress on shingles blisters helps to reduce their heat and therefore accompanying pain.

Stress Reduction

Reducing stress levels as much as possible is actually a key shingles natural treatment. This lifestyle change can help to prevent and treat shingles since stress reduction is such an overall immune system and health booster.

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Intravenous vitamin C in the treatment of shingles: results of a multicenter prospective cohort study.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22460093

Osiecki, H. (2004). The Nutrient Bible. 6th ed. BioConcepts Publishing, 25-26.

Presentation and Management of Herpes Zoster (Shingles) in the Geriatric Population https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3684190/

Oleuropein in Olive and its Pharmacological Effects https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3002804/

Hoffmann, D. (2003). Holistic Herbal: A Safe and Practical Guide to Making and Using Herbal Remedies. London: Element Books, 73-75.

Osiecki, H. (2001). The Physician’s Handbook of Clinical Nutrition. 6th ed. Queensland: BioConcepts Publishing, 85-93.

Balch JF, Balch PA. (2000). Prescription for Nutritional Healing. 3rd Ed. New York: Penguin Putnam Inc.


Anti-HSV type-1 activity of olive leaves extract crude form acting as a microemulsion dosage formhttps://academicjournals.org/journal/AJMR/article-full-text-pdf/E09C2B158944

The olive leaf extract exhibits antiviral activity against viral haemorrhagic septicaemia rhabdovirus (VHSV). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19906250

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