Shingles Treatment Washington DC

Chicken pox is one childhood experience no one wants to repeat. Yet, nearly 500,000 unlucky people in the US do so each year when the “adult version” crops up as shingles. This painful condition results when the same virus that causes chicken pox—varicella-zoster virus (VZV)—reactivates.

James Gordon Vap, MD
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Dr.Appaji Gondi
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Shingles

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By Victoria L. Freeman, PhD

Chicken pox is one childhood experience no one wants to repeat. Yet, nearly 500,000 unlucky people in the US do so each year when the “adult version” crops up as shingles. This painful condition results when the same virus that causes chicken pox—varicella-zoster virus (VZV)—reactivates. While the symptoms of chicken pox disappear after a few weeks, the zoster virus remains hidden deep within us, only to pop up as shingles—often many years later.

Shingles begins with a burning and tingling sensation along affected nerves, followed by red bumps or skin blisters, and, often, the severe, long-term nerve pain known as post-herpetic neuralgia or PHN. The blisters usually resolve within several weeks, but PHN can persist for months or even years.

No one knows why VZV reactivates in some people and not others, although an outbreak seems to occur when one’s immune system hits a low point. That’s why supporting immune function with regular exercise, plenty of rest, and a wholesome diet—and minimizing stress—offers the best protection against shingles, explains naturopathic physician Carolyn Dean, MD, ND, and author of Hormone Balance: A Woman’s Guide to Restoring Health and Vitality (Adams Media, 2005).

Conventional medicine treats shingles using antiviral drugs like acyclovir or pain relief medications like the steroid prednisone. “The problem with conventional antiviral medications,” says Dean, “is that they only suppress the zoster virus, so if your immune system is weakened, the virus will replicate again.” The possible side effects of these medications include immune system suppression and gastrointestinal bleeding for prednisone, and nausea, seizures, weakness, and decreased urine with acyclovir.

Dean and other holistic physicians have found that the following natural remedies offer effective shingles relief without harsh side effects.

• L-Lysine Take by mouth at the first sign of symptoms. This amino acid reduces the severity of herpes zoster (shingles) outbreaks by inhibiting virus replication. Dean recommends 1,000 mg three times daily until all symptoms vanish.

• Lemon balm oil (Melissa officinalis) or peppermint oil (Mentha piperita). Both oils have a “direct kill effect” on skin viruses, says Dean. Apply to affected areas to soothe pain and reduce blistering. Choose organic oils when possible, and mix nine parts coconut oil as the carrier to one part of the treatment oil.

• Capsaicin cream Best applied after blisters have healed, this cream can relieve lingering PHN pain by acting as a counterirritant.

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