Shingles are an acute central nervous system infection caused by herpes zoster virus (like chicken pox). The condition is painful and usually occurs in people over fifty. Symptoms include an eruption of blisters on the trunk of the body, usually along a peripheral nerve, with fever, itching, weakness, chills, and sometimes nausea. Uncomfortable feelings usually continue even after blisters are gone.
The most common cause of shingles in adults is a reaction to medication. Other causes include food allergies (especially dairy, shell fish, wheat, and MSG), food additives, preservatives, over chlorinated water, stress, adrenal or liver exhaustion, histamine reaction, poor circulation, constipation, and high doses of caffeine.
There are several herbal remedies that can help prevent, soothe, and heal shingles. Licorice, echinacea, and flax seed oil may help if taken regularly. Herbs that help protect and heal the nerves also help shingles. St. John's Wort, red clover, nettle, and ginseng are some of the most well known.
Herbs useful as a topical application to blisters include lemon balm, echinacea, aloe vera, golden seal, yellowroot, hyssop, oregano, peppermint, rosemary, sage, thyme, and calendula. These herbs may be incorporated into cream or ointment. They may also be used in tea form as a wash. For extra strength add oil from a vitamin E gel cap. Apply with a cotton ball at least three times a day.
The essential amino acid lysine is known to reduce the severity of shingles outbreaks. Foods that contain a significant amount of lysine include legumes, watercress, soybeans, carob, spinach, meat, eggs, fish, and cheese (especially parmesan).
Cayenne pepper is also known to reduce the pain from shingles. Cayenne should be taken in capsule form, added to food, and applied as cream. Powdered red pepper can be mixed into any body lotion or moisturizing cream. Apply to blisters several times a day. (Test first on a small area of skin. If irritation becomes worse, discontinue use.) Capsaicin compounds in the pepper bring relief by blocking pain signals from nerves just under the skin.
Pain may also be controlled with ice compresses, Epsom salt baths, and fifteen minutes of early morning sunshine.
People with shingles should avoid antibiotics, penicillin, tetracycline, aspirin, and Tylenol. They should go on a cleansing diet to help alkalize the system. Organic carrot juice, rose hip tea, apple juice, celery, beets, cucumbers, cabbage, and natural cranberry juice should be consumed daily during healing.
Patients with shingles should avoid acid forming foods including fried foods, salt, and soft drinks. They should also avoid refined foods high in sugar content. To be on the safe side, they should also limit all artificial flavorings, nitrates (bacon and processed meats), and food colorings.
* Keep any remedy containing red pepper away from the eyes and other sensitive areas. Always consult with a healthcare professional before using any herbal remedy.
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