Shingles is a very painful viral infection that I treat frequently in my NW Calgary Naturopathic Medicine practice. Without adequate treatment, the symptoms can last months, and sometimes even years. In addition to conventional medical treatment, there is a lot that Naturopathic Medicine has to offer to speed up recovery and minimize risk of lasting effects. Keep reading below to see what Naturopathic Medicine can do to treat Shingles!
Shingles is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, which is the same virus that causes Chicken pox. A patient can only get Shingles after having Chicken pox. After having Chicken pox, the varicella-zoster virus lies dormant in the nerve roots next to your spinal cord. They do not cause any symptoms in this stage. However, certain triggers can cause the virus to reactivate and travel along a nerve, causing Shingles. Not everybody who has had Chicken pox will develop this painful condition, statistics show that approximately 1 out of 4 people that have had Chicken pox will have Shingles at some point in their lives. It is most common in patients over the age of 50, however I have seen it in patients in their 30’s and 40’s as well. There are certain triggers that can make you more susceptible, such as medications, periods of stress or illness, a suppressed immune system (because a strong immune system keeps the virus inactive and prevents it from multiplying and traveling along a nerve).
Symptoms of Shingles
The beginning stages may begin with the patient feeling unwell, tired, and experiencing headaches and flu like symptoms. Next the patient may begin to feel a localized band of pain, which can be felt anywhere depending on which nerve is affected, but most usually on the trunk or abdomen. It is generally experienced only on one side of the body. The pain is experienced as a constant dull, burning, or gnawing pain, or sometimes as sharp stabbing pains that come and go, accompanied by skin tenderness around the affected area.
A rash will typically appear 2 to 3 days after the pain begins, starting as red blotches and then turning into itchy blisters. Eventually these blisters will dry up and form scabs. An episode can last from 2 to 4 weeks.
Postherpetic neuralgia is the most common complication, experienced as nerve pain which persists even after the rash has healed. It can last for months is some cases, and some times even longer.
Treating Shingles with Naturopathic Medicine
Naturopathic medicine can play several roles in the treatment of this condition. The first goal is to maintain a healthy immune system to prevent the virus from reactivating in the nerve root. However once it has developed, Naturopathic Medicine can help with pain and also to speed up recovery and minimize risk of complications.
Acupuncture and Shingles
Acupuncture is a very powerful treatment to help the patient. Using a “surround the dragon” technique, tiny needles are inserted around the rash (of course avoiding the painful areas) and also for pain, sleep, supporting the immune system and general well being. Treatments are booked frequently when the pain is severe. You can read more about acupuncture here.
Vitamins and Supplements and Shingles
Based on a patients health history and other medications they are using. vitamins and supplements can be prescribed to aid in supporting the immune system and to act as anti-virals, and also to support the patient through this painful condition. You can read more about vitamins and supplements here.
Herbs and Botanical Medicine for Shingles
Herbs are a very powerful treatment for the patient, and act as immune support and anti-virals. They can also aid with vitality and sleep to help the patient get through this painful condition. You can read more about Botanical Medicine here.
Homeopathy for Shingles
I use this modality often in the treatment of Shingles as well, most frequently for nerve pain. You can read more about Homeopathy here.
Lifestyle Counseling for Shingles
As I mentioned above, stress can be a trigger. Often patients report undergoing a period of stress or illness prior to their episode of Shingles, and feeling run down and exhausted. Stress management is an important tool regardless of the condition we are treating, and creating balance in your life to allow your immune system and overall body to heal and rejuvenate itself.
As you can see there is a lot that Naturopathic Medicine has to offer in the treatment of Shingles. If you have any questions about how it can help you, please don’t hesitate to contact me at my NW Calgary Naturopathic Medicine practice at (403) 719-2594.
Naturopathic Vitality Acupuncture and Wellness Clinic
205-5403 Crowchild Trail NW