Shingles Prevention and Treatment
Recently, I’ve had a lot of patients ask me about shingles.
I blame Big Pharma. It’s impossible to watch TV these days without seeing some scare-tactic ad about the pain and danger of shingles.
Which is always a lead-up to recommending the new shingles vaccine.
The usefulness of that vaccine is up for debate, as I’ll explain in a moment.
But first, let’s address the real issue: What is shingles? And what should you do about it?
A Virus Awakens
As you’ve heard countless times, shingles is caused by chicken pox.
Actually, it isn’t just caused by chicken pox, it is chicken pox. It’s the same exact virus—the herpes zoster virus. When it attacks someone young, it appears as chicken pox.
When it attacks someone older, it presents as shingles.
And shingles is, at heart, an attack on your nerves. It typically attacks and causes massive pain in one nerve branch.
There will be swelling and watery blisters in the affected area as well. But that’s a minor concern compared with the nerve pain.
Luckily, you aren’t at huge risk of contracting shingles. Only 3.3% of the general population gets shingles.
For those who take the vaccine, that number drops slightly, to 1.6%.
So the vaccine does work. If you consider a drop of 1.7 percentage points in risk as working and worth it.
The shingles vaccine starts at $200, it usually has to be paid for upfront, and not all health insurance plans will cover all, or even some, of the cost.
Since a number of vaccinated people still get shingles, you’ll have to decide if the price is worth it for you. The vaccine itself hasn’t shown any harmful side effects, so at the least you know you’re likely safe.
The only real risk is spending $200+ and getting no results. After all, it will prevent less than one person out of 50 from developing shingles.
But if that reduction is worth the money to you, then feel free to get the vaccine.
Dealing With, And Getting Rid Of, Shingles
Regardless of whether or not you get the vaccine, if you have shingles, here’s how you can treat it.
The first thing you have to realize: You aren’t trying to defeat this virus.
You can never wipe out invading viruses. Once they’re in your body, they remain for good.
What you can do, however, is put them to sleep. The vast majority of viruses live in us in a dormant state, and cause no problems.
Shingles is just the herpes zoster virus, awakened.
Usually, this happens through a perfect storm of issues. A weakened immune system is key. An acidic atmosphere in the body is key. Often, the digestive tract of the affected person has been acting up as well.
So the best way to avoid getting shingles in the first place is to keep your body’s systems running at an optimal level.
And the fastest way to send shingles back into hibernation is to eliminate the conditions it finds favorable.
When ill—not just with shingles, but any illness—you want to eliminate sugar and carbs from your diet. They create acidic conditions, in which bugs thrive.
Instead, eat plenty of green, leafy vegetables. Get daily B12 shots, or take daily B vitamin supplements.
Drinking a baking soda brew (¼ teaspoon of baking soda in 20 ounces of water) sweetened with lemon or lime is a shortcut to quickly lower the acidic level of your digestive tract, and the rest of your body. Creating an alkaline environment is the fastest way to knock a virus out. (However, baking soda, more scientifically known as sodium bicarbonate, contains a lot of sodium. If you aren’t avoiding salt in your diet or if you have blood pressure, kidney, or liver problems, baking soda is not a great choice for you. If sodium is a concern for you, please take the longer but more effective route of eating more fruits and vegetables.)
The lemon and lime also give you a nice bonus lift of Vitamin C, which you should also be taking. Vitamin C will always help your immune system.
However, I also recommend a couple of specialized concoctions to help boost your immune system even further. Both Immpower and Immune Force (supplements available for purchase online) are extremely effective, and both have a variety of natural ingredients that help boost your immune system.
Between strengthening your immune system and reducing your acidity, you should help your body send the shingles virus back into remission.
However, that’s only part of the problem. While you are suffering from shingles, the nerve pain can be excruciating. And, in many cases, traditional pain medicines are far from effective.
That’s because the virus attacks the nerve branches themselves. Dulling nerves doesn’t work.
But I have seen anecdotal evidence that capsaicin—the active ingredient in hot peppers—can be effective.
A number of my patients have sworn that capsaicin is the only thing that relieved their shingles pain. You can take it orally or as a topical balm.
Right now, I’m conducting my own study to see if these anecdotal claims hold up to scientific rigor. At the moment, the results are promising, but not yet confirmed.
However, I’d definitely recommend shingles sufferers try capsaicin. If only because there aren’t any other effective alternatives.
Take this potential pain reliever for your symptoms, improve your diet and add supplements to make your body less hospitable for viruses, and you should overcome your shingles relatively quickly and relatively painlessly.
It isn’t perfect, or instantaneous. But it’s the best way to minimize the damage and discomfort this painful virus can cause.
Last Updated: August 16, 2018
Originally Published: August 10, 2015