Scottsdale Acupuncture


Holistically Treating Shingles

Posted Monday, May 5th, 2014 by

shingles, holistic, acupuncture, scottsdale, az

Over the past month, a few patients have come to Above & Beyond Acupuncture in Scottsdale, AZ, to be treated for shingles (which is also known as herpes zoster). While there is a portion of the American population that has a basic understanding of this viral infection, many are unaware of what it is until they experience it first hand. We wanted to take the time to write a blog post that would provide sufficient information as to what shingles is and what can be done to either prevent an outbreak or alleviate one that has already been expressed.

So, what is shingles? A helpful definition provided by the Mayo Clinic describes shingles as a viral infection that causes a painful rash. Although shingles can occur anywhere on your body, it most often appears as a single stripe of blisters that wraps around either the left or the right side of your torso. Shingles is caused by the varicella-zoster virus — the same virus that causes chickenpox. Once you’ve had chickenpox, the virus lies inactive in nerve tissue near your spinal cord and brain. Years later, the virus may reactivate as shingles. [Link]

The CDC estimates that there are about 4 million cases of chickenpox every year and that almost everyone will get chickenpox by adulthood (which is more than 95% of Americans). [Link] Since chickenpox is the same virus that causes shingles, we can start to see how many infections are possible. A new vaccine for chickenpox does exist, but it was not readily available for most adult aged people who are currently susceptible.

So how common is shingles? Almost 1 out of 3 people in America will develop shingles during their lifetime; that’s 33% of the population in the United States. Nearly 1 million Americans experience the condition each year. Older adults are more likely to get the disease. About half of all cases occur in men and women age 60 years or older. [Link]

There are a few factors that can lead to an outbreak; one that can be easily prevented is stress. When the body is under a significant amount of stress, the immune system is not working at full capacity, which provides a clear-cut opportunity for shingles to develop. Getting sufficient amounts of sleep, having a regular exercise routine and finding ways to ease the stressors in your life will help keep your immune system strong.

Another way to help prevent shingles is to make sure your diet is rich in L-lysine and low in L-arginine. Shingles is particularly affected by a person’s L-lysine to L-arginine ratio. These are natural amino acids that are found inside the human body, but they come from foods. There must be a greater level of arginine in the body for herpes viruses to thrive. Lysine is found in proteins, dairy, and most vegetables. Arginine is found in nuts, chocolate, and tomatoes. [Link] Just by changing your diet you can greatly reduce the duration and voracity of an outbreak. It is also suggested that you take an L-lysine supplement during an infection as well as afterwards to help keep the L-lysine to L-arginine ratio in check.

Traditional Chinese Medicine, which includes acupuncture and Chinese herbs, is a phenomenal and holistic way to treat shingles. A licensed acupuncturist will use differential diagnosis to create a proper treatment plan that will focus on resolving the symptoms as well as boosting the body’s resources. Acupuncture and Chinese herbs will work synergistically to reduce pain, clear the infection and improve the quality of the life of the patient suffering with shingles. By combining dietary changes, stress reduction and Traditional Chinese Medicine, the shingles infection and pain will be greatly reduced soon after treatment begins.

If you, or anyone you know, is suffering with shingles, please make an appointment to come in for a treatment at Above & Beyond Acupuncture in Scottsdale, AZ. Using a holistic approach when treating a shingles infection will prevent you from taking unnecessary medications, suffering needlessly and will provide a greater sense of health and wellness.