Shingles, also known as herpes zoster, is a viral infection that causes a painful rash. It is caused by the reactivation of the varicella-zoster virus, which also causes chickenpox. While conventional medicine treatments for shingles involve antiviral medications and pain relievers, naturopathic medicine offers a range of treatments that can help manage symptoms and support the body's natural healing process.
One of the main goals of naturopathic medicine in treating shingles is to boost the immune system. This can be achieved through lifestyle changes, such as getting enough nutrients and sleep, reducing stress, and staying hydrated.
Overall, naturopathic medicine offers a range of treatments that can help manage the symptoms of shingles and support the body's natural healing process. As with any medical condition, it is important to consult with a qualified professional before starting any new treatments or making significant lifestyle changes.
Pain, burning, or tingling sensation in the affected area
Itching or aching in the affected area
Fever, chills, or headache
Fatigue or weakness
Nausea or upset stomach
These symptoms may appear several days before the rash develops and may persist even after the rash has cleared. The severity of symptoms can vary depending on the individual and the extent of the rash. In some cases, shingles can lead to complications such as postherpetic neuralgia, which is a type of nerve pain that can be long-lasting and severe. If you suspect you may have shingles, it is important to seek immediate medical attention to receive an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.
Weakened immune system: People with weakened immune systems, such as those with HIV/AIDS or undergoing chemotherapy, are more susceptible to shingles.
Chronic stress: Prolonged stress can weaken the immune system and increase the likelihood of developing shingles.
Certain medications: Use of medications such as steroids can increase the risk of shingles.
History of chickenpox: People who have had chickenpox in the past are at risk of developing shingles as the virus remains dormant in the body and can reactivate later in life[i].
Gender: Women are more susceptible to shingles than men.
Adequate nutrition is essential for maintaining a healthy immune system, which is crucial in fighting off the virus that causes shingles and preventing complications. Nutritional therapy can play a significant role in managing the symptoms of shingles and supporting the body's natural healing process.
The primary goal of nutritional therapy in managing shingles is to support the immune system by providing the body with the necessary nutrients to function properly. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats can provide the body with essential vitamins and minerals that support the immune system, including dietary intake of vitamins A, B(6), C, E, folic acid, zinc, and iron, and fruit and vegetable consumption[ii].
So, nutritional therapy can be a valuable tool in managing the symptoms of shingles and supporting the body's natural healing process.
Lysine: Lysine is an amino acid that can help suppress the replication of the virus that causes shingles. Taking a lysine supplement may help reduce the severity and duration of symptoms[iii].
Try: Pure Encapsulations l-Lysine
Vitamin C: Vitamin C is an antioxidant that can help support the immune system and reduce inflammation. Taking a vitamin C supplement may help reduce the severity of shingles symptoms[iv].
Try: Viridian Vitamin C 500mg + Zinc
Vitamin E: Vitamin E is an antioxidant that can help reduce inflammation and support the immune system. Taking a vitamin E supplement may help reduce the severity of shingles symptoms. The recommended dosage is typically 400 to 800 IU per day, but it is important to consult with a professional before starting a supplement regime[v].
Try: Pure Encapsulations Vitamin E (mixed tocopherols, 90 caps)
Zinc: Zinc is a mineral that can help support the immune system and reduce inflammation. Taking a zinc supplement may help reduce the severity of shingles symptoms. The recommended dosage is typically 15 to 30 milligrams per day, again, consulting with a healthcare professional before beginning a supplement regime is essential[vi].
Try: Viridian Balanced Zinc Complex
Echinacea: Echinacea is a herb that can help boost the immune system. Taking an echinacea supplement may help reduce the severity of shingles symptoms[vii].
Try: Echinacea Elderberry Extract
Food sensitivity testing: Food sensitivities or intolerances may trigger or exacerbate symptoms of shingles. Testing for food sensitivities can help identify specific foods that may be contributing to symptoms and guide dietary changes to reduce inflammation and support immune system function.
Try: Food Sensitivity Test (Dietary Antigen Test)
Adrenal function testing: Chronic stress can weaken the immune system and increase the risk of shingles. Adrenal function testing can help assess the body's response to stress and identify imbalances that may be contributing to the development or severity of shingles symptoms.
Try: Adrenal Stress Index
Comprehensive stool analysis: The health of the gut microbiome is closely linked to immune system function. A comprehensive stool analysis can help assess the health of the gut microbiome, identify imbalances, and guide interventions to support immune system function.
Try: Complete GastroIntestinal and Microbiome Test
Get plenty of rest: Rest is really important for supporting the immune system and allowing the body to heal. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night and take breaks throughout the day as required.
Manage stress: Chronic stress can weaken the immune system and increase the risk of shingles. Incorporate stress-reducing activities into your daily routine, such as yoga, meditation, or deep breathing exercises.
Stay hydrated: Drinking plenty of fluids can help prevent dehydration, which can exacerbate symptoms. Aim to drink at least 8 glasses of water per day and avoid alcohol and caffeine, which can dehydrate the body.
Avoid scratching the rash: Scratching the rash can increase the risk of infection and prolong healing time. Wear loose clothing and avoid tight-fitting clothes that may rub against the rash.
Practice good hygiene: Wash your hands frequently and avoid close contact with others to prevent the spread of infection. Cover the rash with a sterile dressing to prevent the spread of the virus.
[i] Marra F, Parhar K, Huang B, Vadlamudi N. Risk Factors for Herpes Zoster Infection: A Meta-Analysis. Open Forum Infect Dis. 2020 Jan 9;7(1):ofaa005. doi: 10.1093/ofid/ofaa005. PMID: 32010734; PMCID: PMC6984676.
[ii] Thomas SL, Wheeler JG, Hall AJ. Micronutrient intake and the risk of herpes zoster: a case-control study. Int J Epidemiol. 2006 Apr;35(2):307-14. doi: 10.1093/ije/dyi270. Epub 2005 Dec 5. PMID: 16330478.
[iii] Mailoo VJ, Rampes S. Lysine for Herpes Simplex Prophylaxis: A Review of the Evidence. Integr Med (Encinitas). 2017 Jun;16(3):42-46. PMID: 30881246; PMCID: PMC6419779.
[iv] Schencking M, Vollbracht C, Weiss G, Lebert J, Biller A, Goyvaerts B, Kraft K. Intravenous vitamin C in the treatment of shingles: results of a multicenter prospective cohort study. Med Sci Monit. 2012 Apr;18(4):CR215-24. doi: 10.12659/msm.882621. PMID: 22460093; PMCID: PMC3560828.
[v] Keen MA, Hassan I. Vitamin E in dermatology. Indian Dermatol Online J. 2016 Jul-Aug;7(4):311-5. doi: 10.4103/2229-5178.185494. PMID: 27559512; PMCID: PMC4976416.
[vi] Read SA, Obeid S, Ahlenstiel C, Ahlenstiel G. The Role of Zinc in Antiviral Immunity. Adv Nutr. 2019 Jul 1;10(4):696-710. doi: 10.1093/advances/nmz013. PMID: 31305906; PMCID: PMC6628855.
Please note that the information contained within this website does not and should not replace medical advice, and is not intended to treat or diagnose. We always recommend you consult with your doctor. Our Nutritional Therapy team is highly trained and we offer one to one Nutritional Therapy Consultations, which are designed to be complementary to any medical treatment from a functional medicine approach, as well as offering a preventative & optimal health focus.