Q: I Have Shingles. What Do You Suggest?

A: A diagnosis of shingles is not something to take lightly. Your doctor will tell you that this stubborn virus can cause illness for several weeks to months and can cause blindness if it affects the eyes. Shingles are caused by the Herpes varicella-zoster virus--the same virus that causes chicken pox. When we get chicken pox as a child, all of the virus may not be destroyed by our immune system and it may lie dormant in the nerves of the skin for decades only to emerge as shingles when we get older. It is generally seen in people who are immune-compromised, under too much stress or who have been exposed to the chicken pox virus again. Now that children are vaccinated against chicken pox, experts believe we will see more shingles in the future due to the fact that the children did not build enough immunity from the virus. Vaccines do not provide the same strong immunity we see when we have been contracted a disease and survived.

Herpes varicella-zoster infection of the central nervous system begins with fatigue and fever, and the affected skin may be very sensitive to touch. Blisters on the skin begin to form around the fourth or fifth day of infection and run along a nerve path generally in patches that look like a branch of a tree. It most often occurs on the trunk area and chest but can also be found on the face across the shoulders and up the neck. It is an extremely painful condition. Often the elderly will experience chronic pain for months to years. Patients diagnosed with shingles are prescribed a narcotic for pain relief and the antiviral drug acyclovir and sent home to endure the virus for six weeks. Good solid research into alternative treatments for shingles shows that complete recovery in less than one week can be obtained with the blisters and pain disappearing in three days.

Remember that shingles is a serious illness and requires a physician's care along with the following recommendations (if the eyes are involved this is an emergency situation and an opthamologist should be consulted immediately). It is shameful that people have to suffer needlessly because they do not have access to some of the fabulous research in alternative treatments. Any treatment regime for shingles or other herpes viruses should include an excellent diet full of fresh fruits and vegetables and homemade soup. No sugar should be consumed because it stops our natural killer cells from fighting the virus. Four nutrients from the following recommendations are key to fighting the herpes virus. Plenty of solid research has evaluated their effectiveness at fighting shingles; they include vitamin E, vitamin B12, vitamin C, and plant sterols and sterolins.

Vitamin B12
Dr. Melvyn Werbach, in his book Nutritional Influences on Illness, reported that in a research study, 21 patients suffering with herpes zoster showed a dramatic improvement in symptoms. By the second or third day of treatment using a 1 milligram (mg) injection of B12 per day, their pain was relieved and blisters rapidly disappeared. In a paper published in the journal Geriatrics, researchers recommended using 1 mg of vitamin B12 injected daily for six days and weekly for six weeks to treat the pain associated with herpes zoster. Pain reduction occurred in two days even in post-pain syndrome that had continued for months to years. Vitamin B12 taken in sublingual form has been found to shorten the duration of herpes outbreaks and reduce pain.

Vitamin E
In another experimental study published in the Archives of Dermatology, 13 patients with chronic pain caused by shingles received 1,200-1,600 international units (IU) of vitamin E daily before meals. Nine of the 13 experienced complete or almost complete control of pain. Two were moderately improved and two were slightly improved. Two of the patients who gained complete pain remission had been suffering with post-pain syndrome from shingles for 13 and 19 years respectively. This is amazing. If you have been putting up with post pain from the herpes zoster virus, adopt the protocol immediately and ask your doctor why he does not know of this landmark study.

Vitamin C
Vitamin C is so effective at halting herpes viruses that on initial diagnosis of shingles or outbreak of cold sores, patients should immediately start taking it. Most of the published research behind vitamin C and herpes involves intravenous treatment and dates back as early as 1950. In one early study, 327 patients suffering with herpes zoster were all cured following three days of intravenous (IV) vitamin C. Another study by Klenner showed that, of eight patients receiving 30-50 grams of IV vitamin C, seven reported complete cessation of pain within two hours of the first treatment. They also showed drying of the blisters within one day and complete clearing within three days of treatment. Intravenous vitamin C is much more effective than oral vitamin C to treat an acute or new outbreak of shingles, but if you don't have a doctor willing to perform the treatment, take vitamin C in gram doses until relief is obtained. Vitamin C is a potent virus fighter and only 18 percent of North Americans actually get adequate vitamin C in their daily diet. We are deficient in this important vitamin.

How much is too much vitamin C? Robert Cathcart, MD, states that each individual has his or her own vitamin C limit, which is determined by stress, nutritional status and current state of health. To determine your personal vitamin C requirements, start taking gram doses of vitamin C (as mineral ascorbates) until your bowels become loose, then cut back until your bowel movements are normal. This is your personal vitamin C requirement. Depending on your health and lifestyle choices, this level may fluctuate from day to day or week to week.

Moducare (Sterols and Sterolins)
If our immune system is doing its job, the herpes virus would not be able to get inside our cells and wreak havoc. Under normal conditions, a healthy immune system would destroy the virus before it had a chance to cause symptoms. Our front line defense warriors should eliminate the virus, halting it from getting inside our cells. If herpes is victorious and has made it inside our cells, then the cytotoxic T-cells - the most voracious killers - are supposed to destroy those virus-infected cells. Also, our immune system makes immune factors that halt the virus from replicating so that more viruses cannot be produced. If the immune system's army is in perfect working order, we should not get herpes in the first place and, if we do succumb, our immune system should destroy herpes so we do not have to suffer the virus again. Exciting research using sterols and sterolins has found that these simple plant nutrients are effective at enhancing our cytotoxic T-cells and immune factors to destroy the virus forever.

Research performed over the last several decades has found that sterols and sterolins increase natural killer cells, the first warriors to attack herpes. As well, sterols and sterolins increase cytotoxic T-cell activity, gamma interferon and interleukin-2, all of which is important for destroying the virus if it manages to get inside our cells. Cytotoxic T-cell enhancement is especially important when fighting herpes because we want these cells to seek out and destroy the cells that contain herpes so we are no longer affected by this annoying virus. Sterols and sterolins are able to improve immune function and kill the virus. It only takes sterols and sterolins a matter of weeks to several months to totally destroy the virus and normalize immune function.

The following three-day program is recommended for anyone who has just been diagnosed with shingles or if you have post pain from shingles or if you have just developed a cold sore or an outbreak or genital herpes:
  • 2,000 mg of buffered vitamin C every hour for three days, then 1,000-3,000 mg per day for maintenance
  • 2,000mg of lysine per day with food
  • 1 mg injection of vitamin B12 (or 500 microgram (mcg) sublingual tablets of B12 every hour) for three days, then 1,000 mcg sublingual tablets per day thereafter
  • 2 capsules of Moducare three times per day for one week and 1 capsule three times per day thereafter to ensure your immune army destroys all viruses
  • 400 IU of vitamin E three times per day for three days and then 400 IU per day for optimal health
  • 40 drops of echinacea tincture three times per day for three days then stop
  • Homeopathic Rhus Tox 12C, 3 pellets three times per day for one week
  • Quantum lysine cream applied to the blisters as needed

Quantum lysine cream is very soothing to the skin. Shingles is so painful that the pressure of a person's clothing or the sheets on the bed cause extreme discomfort. Topical relief of pain and itching is also found when using this ointment for cold sores or genital herpes.

By day three, a general feeling of well-being should have returned and lymph gland swelling should have decreased. The blisters will only be a red rash with no crusting and, most importantly, the pain will have diminished. If you do not have a naturopathic doctor or a medical doctor that can give you injections of vitamin B12, take 500 mcg of vitamin B12 every hour during the day for three days. Many research studies have shown complete remission of the virus in a matter of days following the regime mentioned above.

Tell everyone you know about this treatment. Shingles is very painful and can last many months to years. Halting or reducing someone's suffering is at our fingertips.