Shingles Part II: TCM Differentiation and Treatment
[Caution for my readers: The information in this post is intended for healthcare practitioners. Do not attempt to administer any of the suggested medicinals or supplements to yourself at the doses suggested here. Not all of the substances mentioned here are safe for every patient and they should only be prescribed by licensed practitioners.] I have treated many cases of shingles since I started treating patients in 1998. Recently I actually broke out in shingles myself and my experience as a patient suffering from this condition taught me more about it than I ever wanted to know. Here is what I have been taught (and what I have learned) over the last 14 years about the treatment of shingles with Traditional Chinese Medicine. The Three Most Important Things To Keep In Mind About Treating Shingles (Herpes Zoster):
- ACUPUNCTURE IS AMAZING AT RELIEVING THE ACUTE PAIN FROM SHINGLES. Everyone who is unfortunate enough to develop shingles should get acupuncture treatment as soon as possible. Not only does it alleviate the horrible pain, but acupuncture treatment during an acute shingles outbreak can significantly reduce the risk of post-herpetic neuralgia.
- Practitioners, YOU MUST NOT BE WUSSY when treating shingles. You must be assertive and you must treat quickly and frequently. Acupuncturists, please forget about that “once per week for 10 weeks” crap. You start herbs and acupuncture IMMEDIATELY upon diagnosis. If the patient can get to you within the first couple days of the rash, you treat every day for the first 5 – 7 days. Don’t make these patients wait, not even a day if you can help it. Treat even if they are also taking a pharmaceutical antiviral. Some patients may choose to let this self-limiting disease just burn itself out. That is fine, but realize there is increased risk of post-herpetic neuralgia and scarring. I always choose to treat in the elderly and for cranial nerve cases (affecting face and eye region).
- Acute attack of herpes zoster is always an excess (shi) condition. At least to some degree. There may be deficient conditions underlying the development of this illness (especially in the elderly and those with suppressed immune systems), but the acute attack is always excess and must be treated aggressively to spare the patient post-herpetic neuralgia and scarring of the skin (which is rare but is especially a concern when shingles appear on the face).
- Vitamin C: to bowel tolerance (about 2000 mg BID). Helps immune system fight virus and helps with wound healing. I enjoyed the Emergen-C drink because it was refreshing when I felt like total shit with the shingles. I drank 2 packets per day and that also helped with the constipation.
- Vitamin B12: 100 mg TID of a B Complex supplement or I.M. injection of hydroxycobalamin (if you do that sort of thing…I do not). Helps with nerve pain.
- Lysine: 2000 to 4000 mg/day. Inhibits the herpes virus. (If you think that seems like a lot, consider that the vet has my 6.2 lb cat on 1000mg/day for her herpes eye infection.)
- Vitamin E: internally 400 to 800 I.U. daily. Can also apply topically to the edges of scabs or to the entire lesion once scab falls off to prevent or reduce scarring.
- If ophthalmic zoster affects the eye (lesions on the eyeball, vision problems, pain in eyeball) or the ears (pain in ear or hearing loss), the patient should see an ophthalmologist (or ENT, respectively) immediately.
- Standard Process (nutritional supplements) protocol for acute viral infections:
- St. John’s Wort (from MediHerb) 6 – 8/day – weakens the protein shell of the virus (all herpes viruses are enveloped viruses that have protein shells) and alerts the immune system
- Cataplex C 12- 15/day
- Cataplex F 12 – 15/day
- Calcium Lactate 1 tblsp/day
- Immunplex 6 – 12/day
- Thymex 12/day
- Andrographis Complex 6 – 8/day (or can take Chuan Xin Lian pian from Plum Flower instead)
Topics: Chinese Medicine, Herbs for Skin Care, Herpes & Shingles, Rashes
Publish Date: March 29, 2012 *Articles may include updates since original publishing.
About the Author (Author Profile)Diana Hermann is a licensed acupuncturist and board certified in Chinese Herbal Medicine. She received her Master Degree in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine from the Oregon College of Oriental Medicine in Portland, OR and trained in China at the Nanjing University of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Diana treats patients in her Fort Collins, Colorado clinic and hand crafts herbal skin care products for her company Zi Zai Dermatology. In 2015, she completed the Diploma In Chinese Medicine Dermatology program from Avicenna in London, UK. She completed the program for a second time in 2019 in Chicago.
Sites That Link to this Post
- What Are the Treatments for Shingles With Acupuncture? | Health & Food - Popular Question & Answer | January 13, 2014
- Is Vaccination of Children Against Varicella Zoster Responsible for Increase … – PR Web (press release) | Shingles News Today | April 30, 2014