Shingles affect the nerve endings in the skin of more than 1 million people every year. If you're one of them, you've come to the right place. Here you will find safe, side-effect-free, natural remedies for shingles, including home remedies, Ayurvedic remedies, lifestyle suggestions, and Yoga asanas. They will help you manage, heal and recover more quickly.
What is Shingles?
Shingles are the Herpes zoster virus.
In fact, it's the same infectious virus that causes chickenpox.
Here's the difference:
Chickenpox is spread easily through coughing, sneezing. It can also spread by touching or breathing the virus particles that come from the blisters of someone infected by the virus. Also, you only get the chicken pox once, and usually when you're young.
Shingles occur when the same virus reactivates due to stress and/or low immune function. It can only happen to a person who has previously had chickenpox or the chickenpox vaccination. Shingles is rarely transmitted from person to person either through the air or through exposure to the blisters. Additionally, shingles usually affect people over age 50.
Virus lies dormant
Once the virus enters the body and has caused chickenpox, it doesn't go away. Instead, it lies dormant in the spinal cord and nerve ganglia forbears until it's activated again (usually) by stress or low immune function.
The virus begins in the lymph nodes and is treated by conventional medications including NSAIDs, analgesics, and corticosteroid topical creams.
Medical science suggests that there is no definitive treatment for this condition. The most effective way to treat Shingles is to boost the immune system. Therefore, natural remedies for shingles are often recommended as the safest and best way to ease the painful outbreaks and even get rid of the virus.
But before we get deep into the natural remedies for Shingles, let’s get a closer view of the symptoms and causes.
Symptoms of Shingles
Herpes zoster, or shingles, as it is known medically, is a condition when the dormant chickenpox virus reemerges in the nervous tissue. Shingles are quite often localized with the painful blisters popping up in just one area.
Once these blisters break, they heal, leaving a pale scar behind, after about 7 days.
The common signs and symptoms of shingles include:
- Burning sensation
- Fluid-filled blisters
- Fatigue that persists
- Sensitivity to light
Shingles can appear anywhere on the body; however, it is most commonly found on the skin on the trunk of the body by the rigs. Other common areas are on the vaginal tissues and inside of the mouth.
What Causes Shingles?
As I mentioned in the beginning, Herpes zoster is the primary culprit, but what's interesting is that science is yet to unravel the actual reason behind this reactivation of this virus. Here are some of the most guessed causes of shingles:
- Intense chronic stress
- Weak immune system
- Excessive exposure to heat
- Age (People between 50-80 years are at higher risk)
- Radiation treatments
- HIV/AIDs or such autoimmune conditions
Now that you have an idea of the symptoms and causes, let's talk about how you can heal using natural remedies for Shingles.
Natural Remedies for Shingles
Lifestyle Remedies for Shingles
Keep yourself clean and cool
Take cool baths to ease the pain.
Soak yourself in clean, cool water and allow the skin to dry naturally. Gently, dab yourself dry using a soft, clean cloth. Do not expose the affected skin to warm water or harsh chemicals or hot sun because it could exacerbate or worsen the pain.
Sugar diminishes the white blood cell count, delaying your recovery. Don't eat it. Find out what happens when you quit eating sugar.
Likewise, caffeine and carbonated beverages dehydrate your body, making it more acidic. Avoid junk foods from your diet (especially while sick). Consequently, they are responsible for low immune function.
Also, avoid processed foods, sugar, (especially high fructose corn syrup), white flour, coffee, fried foods, alcohol, soft drinks, chocolate, peanut butter.
Include anti-inflammatory and antioxidant foods in your diet
Eat lots of foods rich in antioxidants that boost your immune system. For example, anti-inflammatory foods like onions and garlic as well as other herbs can boost recovery by enhancing your immune power.
Drink adequate water
Hydrate yourself with clean, pure water to eliminate the virus from your body. Aim to drink at least 8 oz water once in 90 minutes to flush your intestines and kidneys.
Home Remedies for Shingles
Use cool compresses to ease your irritation and pain. Place a clean, soft cloth soaked in cool water over your rash for a few minutes. Repeat with a clean cloth again. However, remember to discard the cloth after use to prevent the spread of the infection.
Oatmeal baths are known to be beneficial for healing irritated skin.
Prepare colloidal oatmeal by mixing 1 cup oats to lukewarm bath water. Allow the water to turn cool before soaking yourself for about 15 to 20 minutes. Wash off with clean, cool water and softly dab dry using a soft cloth.
Non-alcohol Calendula tincture, in diluted form, is one of the most recommended natural remedies for shingles.
Alternatively, you can brew the herb by placing 1/2 cup calendula petals in a jar and cover 1 cup 80-proof vodka. Seal with top and leave in sunlight for 2-8 weeks. Strain and transfer to amber tincture bottle. Use this tincture as a topical application to promote healing.
Tea tree oil, Peppermint oil, and Helichrysum oil
All these essential oils are rich in anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties.
Mix 2 drops of each oil to ½ tsp coconut or virgin olive or castor oil and apply on the affected area to ease the pain, promote healing, and prevent scars.
One of the most popular natural remedies for various itchy skin conditions is baking soda. And, it is pretty safe to use on skin, unless the blisters have ruptured. Prepare a paste by mixing 1 tbsp soda with 1 tsp water and apply on the affected area. Clean the area after 15 to 20 minutes using a soft cloth dipped in cool water. You can even dissolve a ¼ cup of baking soda in cool water and use it as a compress.
Rose Hip Oil
The essential oil of Rosehip has moisturizing properties that help in hydrating the affected area and easing the pain induced by dryness.
Mix 4 drops each of lavender and rose hip essential oil with 1 tsp coconut oil and apply on the blisters to promote scar-free healing. Apply it before bedtime to speed healing.
Use vitamin E oil topically. It is an anti-inflammatory and rich in antioxidants and can even help with scarring.
Ayurvedic Remedies for Shingles
Ayurveda is an ancient science teaches you nature’s great principles of health and natural living. If you are new to Ayurveda, start here: What is Ayurveda?
Shingles is a sign of the fire element (Pitta) going out of balance due to a build up of toxins in the body related to diet and or lifestyle, which affects the immune system. It’s important that you eat foods that are cooling, (Pitta reducing) and easy to digest.
Ayurveda treats the person, not the disease… So get to know yourself, learn what combination of qualities you have in your body and mind. When you know which elements make up the majority of your constitution you will know which conditions you thrive in.
I recommend eating kitchari with cooling spices like coriander, cumin, and fennel frequently. (You can use the recipe I hyperlinked and substitute 1/2 teaspoon of coriander, cumin, and fennel)
A demulcent herb, licorice adds moisture to the tissues of the body. In addition, it brings heat down in the body. You can consume internally or apply topically to ease the painful blisters of shingles.
You can also prepare licorice tea and consume it 2x a day to soothe and tone your mucous membranes and reduce inflammation.
Maybe the best detoxifying herb in herbalism, Echinacea reduces heat in the body. It is a natural antibiotic. Therefore, echinacea cleanses the blood and lymph and can have a positive effect on puss formation. Additionally, it stimulates the release of anti-inflammatory corticosteroids and eases the pain and inflammation.
Most of all, the immunity-boosting properties of this herb fights the infection from within. Consume about 2500 mg Echinacea 2x daily to speed up your recovery.
A natural antibiotic, antibacterial, and antiseptic, Turmeric strengthens digestion. (Digestion is key to good health). In addition, turmeric is also a tonic to the skin.
You can take it both internally, and make a paste to apply externally to alleviate pain. Add a little cool water to freshly ground turmeric to prepare a paste with a spreadable consistency. Apply on the infected area and dry off after 20 minutes using clean water.
I also recommend drinking “Golden Milk” before bed at night. It's an anti-inflammatory delicious drink to boost your immune system.
One of the most powerful blood-purifiers and detoxifiers in Ayurveda. It helps to clear the toxins in most inflammatory skin diseases. It's antimicrobial, antiseptic, antifungal, and it contains fatty acids like oleic acid and linoleum acid which are highly beneficial for the skin.
Apply neem oil mixed with olive oil on the affected area. A paste made by adding neem oil and turmeric with yogurt could also be used to heal shingles.
Another sought after natural remedies for shingles. While its analgesic properties ease the pain, the anti-inflammatory properties eliminate the tenderness and redness. It hydrates the area, thus easing the itching and irritation. Just apply this oil on the affected area and leave on.
Taking walks in nature in the morning when it's cool is a wonderful way to reduce the fire element. Additionally, learn to meditate. Meditating for even 10 minutes a day can help you control stress, anxiety and gain a capacity for relaxation.
Yoga For Shingles
Once you start to practice Yoga, you will begin to enjoy better health, deeper sleep and a better outlook on life. Yoga has been practiced by countless people for thousands of years for good reason!
You'll also notice an improvement in your posture, flexibility, vision and general appearance. In other words, you'll feel more vibrantly alive and enjoy better health.
The Yoga postures suggested here help in easing stress and cooling the body, which will set the stage for faster healing. Feel free to use bolsters to support yourself and help you relax deeper.
Supta Baddha Konasana
Reclined Bound Angle Pose opens the chest stimulating better circulation. The greater the flow of blood to the brain, the higher the relaxation.
Sit on the floor and extend your legs out. Make sure that your sitting bones are resting on the floor. Bend the knees and join the soles of your feet. Slowly, start reclining on the floor, pushing the elbows on the floor. You can place a bolster at the tip of your spine to help you recline.
Once you lie down completely, rest the hands on either side of your chest, palms facing up and fingers facing back.
Close your eyes and relax. To come out, press the elbows into the floor and come back to starting position.
Child's Pose is one of the most recommended restorative yoga poses to help ease the pain by triggering the release of endorphins through better circulation.
Kneel on the floor, buttocks resting on the heels. Spread the knees as wide as your hips, while heels are in touch. Place a folded blanket between your buttocks and heels if they are not in contact.
Inhale and swing your arms over your head. Exhale and fold forward, resting the abdomen in the space in between your thighs. Make a pillow with your hands and rest your forehead on that.
Close your eyes and hold the posture, breathing deeply into the abdomen. To come out, straighten your torso on an inhalation, swing your legs to the front, and relax.
Belly breathing is one of the most effective stress busting techniques. It is pretty simple and cam be practiced while sitting or lying down. Just make sure you are doing it on an empty stomach.
Sit down in a comfortable seated posture of your choice, keeping the spine erect. Relax your neck and shoulders and the entire body. Let the palms rest on the knees. Close your eyes. As you inhale, let your abdomen expand.
With your exhalation, allow the belly to fall back and close to your spine. Inhale for a count of 5 and exhale for a count of 10. The idea is to keep the length of exhalations twice as that of inhalations. Hence, choose a count that you are comfortable.
Calming, cooling breath. This yogic breathing helps to cool the body (which is useful because shingles is a heating condition) and calms anxiety and stress.
Sit down in any comfortable seated position, lengthening your neck and spine, tucking the chin slightly.
Close your eyes and rest the palms on your knees. Curl your tongue inward, allowing the tip to rest on the middle side. Inhale deeply via the tongue, allowing the cool breath to fill through your body.
Once you complete inhalation, restore the natural position of your tongue and exhale through your nostrils.
One breath cycle of inhalation and exhalation makes 1 repetition.
Do 10 to 15 such repetitions.
I've given you lots of natural remedies for shingles here. So, it can be helpful to read it over again to digest all the information, or perhaps bookmark it for future reference.
Now, it's necessary to take action. This may mean learning to modify your diet and/or lifestyle, or learning how improve your immune system with Ayurveda, essential oils or Yoga.
Finally, while natural remedies for shingles are quite effective and come with zero side effects, it is advisable to visit a physician if you feel that you are not able to tolerate the pain.
Seek immediate medical attention if you notice a rash near the eye, failing which you could lose your vision. Also, if the affected person is between 60 to 80 years or has a weakened immune system, immediate medical care is unavoidable.