In this shingles article, you will learn:
- Shingles is a contagious infection caused by the varicella-zoster virus (VZV) – the same virus that causes chickenpox.
- Shingles manifests as a painful skin rash (usually localized to one side of the body and near the ribcage-oblique region)
- Symptoms of shingles can be quite debilitating, including fever, upset stomach, and headache or possibly more serious complications such as vision loss and chronic fatigue
- Conventional treatments for shingles are limited to vaccinations and antiviral medications that may do more harm than good
- Effective natural treatment for shingles generally consists of ozone therapy, establishing a healthy gut microbiome, supporting immune function, and correcting nutritional deficiencies
Shingles (Herpes Zoster) – Natural Treatment Options
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), roughly 1 million cases of shingles occur each year in the United States and about 33% of the population will develop shingles in their lifetime. This viral outbreak results in debilitating flu-like symptoms and a painful skin rash (which may remain problematic for months after the rash clears – a condition known as postherpetic neuralgia).
Many people aren’t aware that shingles is actually caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox – the varicella-zoster virus (often referred to as “VZV”). Hence, shingles is most likely to occur in those who have had chickenpox (but even those who haven’t had chickenpox may contract shingles from someone who has the VZV).
While no conventional treatment can completely eliminate the risk of developing shingles, many clinics/physicians use a shingles vaccine and/or antiviral drugs to combat the condition. Sadly, these treatments may be more harmful than they are beneficial.
Thankfully, there are natural approaches to treating shingles and the VSV virus responsible for it. Read on as this article details what causes shingles, its symptoms, and natural shingles treatment options.
What is Shingles?
Shingles, also known as herpes zoster, is a viral condition that manifests as a painful skin rash on one side of the body or face (typically near the obliques). While shingles may occur in children, the risk increases as you grow older.
The area on the body where the rash develops generally becomes itchy, tingly, and/or painful several days before the rash surfaces on the skin. The shingles rash typically scabs over (i.e. becomes non-transmissible) within one week and clears up within one month, but may last longer in those with weakened immune systems.
The good news is that those who develop shingles generally only experience it once throughout their lifetime, though it can redevelop in rare cases. However, individuals who have suppressed immune function and/or other health conditions, such as HIV or certain forms of cancer, are at a higher risk of developing (and redeveloping) shingles.
What Causes Shingles?
Some people think of shingles as being “adult chickenpox” since they are each caused by the varicella zoster virus (VZV). Hence, anyone who has had chickenpox previously is prone to shingles since the virus remains dormant in the body and can reactivate spontaneously (for reasons that are not yet fully understood by scientists).
In this regard, the shingles virus/VZV is quite similar to the herpes simplex virus (HSV), specifically HSV-1 and HSV-2 and Epstein-Barr virus. Likewise, people with an active shingles outbreak can transmit the virus to those who aren’t infected (even if they have received a vaccine for chickenpox).
Transmission of shingles is most likely to occur when a someone without the virus comes in contact with active shingles (i.e. when blisters are present at the site of the rash). During this stage, the person with shingles should be diligent about keeping their rash covered and avoiding contact with people who are most susceptible to contracting the virus, namely infants, people with weakened immune function, and pregnant women who have never had chickenpox.
What are the Symptoms of Shingles?
In addition to the painful skin rash, the symptoms of shingle are much like those of influenza. When the shingles virus is active, people often experience fever, headache, nausea, upset stomach, and chills throughout the day.
These symptoms usually revolve around the same time that the rash blisters scab over. In exceptionally rare cases, shingles can cause serious health complications, including:
- Loss of vision (blindness)
- Hearing loss
- Chronic fatigue
It is even possible for shingles to be fatal, although that is extremely rare.
The most common health complication associated with shingles is postherpetic neuralgia – a condition that causes severe pain in the area where a person had the shingles rash, even after it is no longer visible. Data suggest that the risk of developing postherpetic neuralgia increases with age1; around 10-13% of people who develop shingles also experience postherpetic neuralgia, most of whom are over the age of 40.
While the pain and discomfort from postherpetic neuralgia usually subside within a few weeks, some people may have the condition for years, making daily life highly debilitating. In such instances, chronic pain treatment is highly advised.
Conventional Treatments for Shingles
The most common form of preventative medicine for shingles is the shingles vaccine (known as Shingrix®). Individuals who have been given the chickenpox vaccine and never developed chickenpox usually don’t benefit from receiving the shingles vaccine. It’s important to note that no vaccine is 100% effective. Even if you receive the shingles vaccine, you can still contract the virus.
In those who have active shingles, conventional treatment typically includes antiviral medications, namely acyclovir, valacyclovir, and famciclovir. Coincidentally, these are the same antiviral medications used to treat the symptoms and outbreaks of HSV-1 and HSV-2.
Unfortunately, many physicians prescribe these drugs haphazardly and without warning patients of their potentially toxic behavior in the body. In fact, antiviral medications may cause side effects that are even more debilitating than the symptoms of an active virus outbreak, such as diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, loss of appetite, and dizziness.
Fortunately, natural treatments for shingles are available (and much safer).
Natural Treatment Options for Shingles
LifeWorks Wellness Center offers targeted natural treatments for shingles that aim to restore your systemic health and vitality. The first order of business is the establish optimal immune function since your immune system is your body’s primary line of defense against pathogens like the varicella-zoster virus.
To assess your immune function and overall health, LifeWorks will take you through a functional evaluation that helps us identify any pre-existing conditions that may be hindering your immune system and enabling shingles outbreaks. This evaluation generally includes assays for food allergies, nutritional deficiencies, gut microbiome imbalance, heavy metal toxicity, Lyme disease, autoimmune conditions, and others.
How Does Ozone Therapy Work for Shingles?
Ozone therapy entails the administration of ozone (O3) – a potent oxidizing agent – which effectively stimulates immune cells (cytokines) into action and reduces viral replication, thereby helping to suppress the shingles virus.
But ozone therapy doesn’t just support your immune function; in fact, it positively affects many aspects of your health and wellness, including:
- Eliminating harmful bacteria and fungi
- Detoxifying your blood
- Enhancing cardiovascular function and blood flow
- Supporting healthy mitochondrial integrity, so your metabolism and energy levels remain optimal
- Increasing oxygen uptake capacity, thereby improving cardiorespiratory function
Contact Us Today about Natural Shingles Treatment
Our synergistic approach that combines natural immune support with ozone therapy is a tried-and-true protocol that can help reduce the risk of a shingles outbreak and also attenuate any symptoms associated with the virus.
We’ve had a multitude of patients with viral outbreaks take back control of their life and well-being with ozone therapy.
Kost, R. G., & Straus, S. E. (1996). Postherpetic neuralgia—pathogenesis, treatment, and prevention. New England Journal of Medicine, 335(1), 32-42.
*Disclaimer: Individual patient results may vary based on a patient’s medical history and other factors.