Shingles – a condition you won’t think twice about – until you have it, then it’s the only thing you can think about! AKA “Herpes Zoster”, shingles is a condition where blisters appear on the skin – in specific regions of the body, usually the left or right sides of your upper torso, neck and or outer rib cage.
The culprit – varicella-zoster virus (the same one that causes chickenpox). However, this is what medicine wants you to believe. Yes, it’s an outcropping of the virus into the skin, but the question should be why now (and not last week, or last year), where did the virus come from and what can I do to remove them?
According to conventional medicine once you have had chicken pox, and it runs its course, you still have the virus inside of your body – dormant. Varicella likes to live in your cranial nerve ganglia, dorsal root ganglia, and autonomic ganglia along the entire neuroaxis (AKA your entire nerve system). Hearing this, I hope you can see now that shingles is as much a nerve health issue as it is a viral infection.
When varicella virus is living in your cranial nerves (those that control face and neck) any irritation to the cranial nerve (i.e. stress, misalignment of skull/neck bones, subluxation etc.) can result in the nerve becoming irritated, the immune system becoming deficient which allows the virus to “escape” and run rampant along the adjacent nerves (in this case the shingles is now visible and felt on the forehead, skull, face, and neck). Those virus’ living in the dorsal roots (thoracic nerves), when irritated, can express the shingles outbreaks along the nerve roots of the thoracic spine (see image above for an example of T2/3/4 nerve root shingles). This is one of the most common areas and you will almost see the outbreaks trace the thoracic nerves themselves as they exit the center of the spine and roll along the ribs, wrapping around the side of the chest towards the front.
Most of the time (i.e. the majority of your life) these varicella viruses lay dormant (asleep if you will) and you never express shingles. However, some people activate their dormant virus, especially at times of weakened immune function and nerve irritation. This is when a shingles outbreak occurs – i.e. they always have a known cause!
Do shingles itch? Yes, they can definitely itch. And burn! In addition to pain and itching, having shingles can also result numbness, sensitivity to touch, and/or tingling in the affected area. Shingles blisters filled with fluid are also common, and often their bursting results in a widened area of irritation.
People with shingles may or may not also experience fever, headaches, and generalized fatigue similar to that of having the flu.
Most shingles outbreaks resolve within three to five weeks, and if you are reading this because your experiencing a shingles outbreak, good news: the majority of people will only express shingles one time, but it is possible to get shingles on multiple occasions (if the underlying immune weakness and nerve irritation is not corrected.)
Natural Shingles Treatments (After all, You Want Those Blisters Gone – Right?)
Several “baths” have been helpful in solving shingles. One includes taking a high concentration H202 (peroxide) bath. Place 1-2 cups of 35% or 3-6 cups of 12% Food Grade peroxide into a bath with warm water. Soaking in this solution increases direct oxygenation of the skin, which is a known pathogenic killer (including viruses). You can also do a “colloidal oatmeal” bath by placing 2 cups of colloidal oatmeal into bath water, soaking for 10-15 min. An alternative would be 2 cups of cornstarch. Note, shingles patients often report warm is better with hot, as the hot water tends to irritate the shingles blisters making it difficult to stay in the bath for 10-15 min.
The simplest, and perhaps oldest, technique is a mixture of 2 parts cornstarch and baking soda to 1 part of water until a desired “paste” is created. ie 2 tbsp cornstarch/baking soda mixture with 1 tbsp water. Apply directly to the shingles rash and rinse clean after 15 min. Another involves 1-2 tbsp raw honey, crushed raw garlic and a few drops of oregano essential oil, mixing together and applying directly to the shingles rash. Cover with a gauze pad, taping to the skin if necessary. Leave overnight and rinse clean in the morning. Yet another is a simple OTC lemon balm salve (beeswax, coconut oil, calendula oil, lemon balm oil, grapefruit and tea tree oils)
There are multiple oils that can be helpful for calming/removing shingles outbreaks from the skin. The most common include peppermint, capsaicin, geranium, thyme, helichrysum and lemon oil. Simply choose a carrier oil (olive, castor, coconut, avocado or almond oil and add 2-3 drops of any (or all) with 1 tbsp of the carrier oil and apply directly the affected area.
Healing Nerve Treatments
Chiropractic care has been shown in various articles to not only decrease pain and suffering from shingles but also significantly decrease the time of expression. But, you need to ensure the adjustment is done in the right place, at the right time and in the right way. (There is one case reported of a 14-year-old who began expressing shingles after he was adjusted. It is in my opinion that this is an example of dormant virus being activated by irritation of the spine as a result of being adjusted incorrectly.) YES, you can be adjusted out of alignment just as much as you can be adjusted into alignment. Make sure your chiropractor is using spinal thermography, surface EMG and/or pre and post X-ray techniques to ensure you are being adjusted properly. A healthy spine has zero nerve interference and, since the shingles virus can live in the spinal nerves, you tend to only see shingles in the areas one’s spine is out of alignment. If you are expressing shingles and have “tried everything” with no results – it’s time to visit your chiropractor (or find one!)
Healing Immune Therapies
What you are about to read may come as a shock to you, but there are various therapies that increase immune function 100-300x more than taking echinacea or vitamin C. One is PEMF (Pulsed Electro-Magnetic Fiends). PEMF-ing is used to enhance blood flow, increase regeneration of ligament, muscle and bone. In the US it’s mostly used in the Equine industry (yes the $1Million race horses get PEMF’ed regularly to ensure their joints remain young and their muscles strong). Recently, research is showing it can be helpful for human disorders, like shingles. Dr. Pawluk MD reports that PEMF therapy can decrease inflammation and pain associated with shingles as pulsed magnetic waves carry antiviral property, mostly through the modulation and strengthening of the body’s own natural immune response. Dr. Pawluk suggests applying the PEMF therapy to the outbreak and to the spinal segment associated with the outbreak.
Another is “Rifing” an electrical-magnetic therapy named after its founder, Dr. Royal Rife. These machines have plasma bulbs which are programmed to various frequencies. For shingles you would load the Varicella or Herpes Zoster frequencies and hold the bulb close to the outbreak and the adjacent spinal level. Unlike PEMF, rife therapy delivers an oscillation frequency that causes the viruses to “burst” thus removing their expression naturally.