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Shingles is caused by the varicella-zoster virus (VZV)— the same virus that causes chickenpox. After 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. Shingles is more common in older adults and in people who have weakened immune systems.

The COVID-19 virus doesn’t cause shingles directly. But COVID-19 and shingles may be related. Post COVID-19 infection weakens the immune system and can give the zoster virus a chance to wake up and cause shingles. One study found that people who had serious COVID-19 illness were twice as likely to develop shingles.

The varicella-zoster virus usually affects the nervous system on one side of the body. Symptoms occur in skin that a particular nerve supplies. Occasionally, two or three nerves next to each other are affected.

The first sign of shingles usually is a tingling feeling, itchiness, constant dull, burning, gnawing, or stabbing pain on the skin typically on the back, side, tummy, or face near the eye. A rash typically appears 2-3 days after the pain begins.

Shingles itself is not contagious. It can’t spread from one person to another. According to the CDC, “If you have shingles, direct contact with the fluid from your rash blisters can spread VZV to people who have never had chickenpox or never received the chickenpox vaccine. If they get infected, they will develop chickenpox, not shingles. They could then develop shingles later in life.

The risk of spreading VZV to others is low if you cover the shingles rash. People with shingles cannot spread the virus before their rash blisters appear or after the rash crusts.

However, the varicella-zoster virus is contagious. If you have shingles, you can pass the virus to another person, which could then cause them to develop chickenpox.

Statin Drugs for lower cholesterol are linked to developing shingles, particularly as you get older.

According to the CDC about 48% of adults aged 75 and over and about 71% of adults with cardiovascular disease and 54% of adults with high cholesterol use a statin cholesterol-lowering medication. Therefore puts these segment of the population are greater risk of getting shingles.

According to a study published on November 13, 2013, in the medical journal “Clinical Infectious Diseases”, ” Statins lower the immune system, possibly resulting in reactivation of the varicella zoster virus (shingles virus) already dormant in the body.” In the main analysis, “The rate of herpes zoster virus (shingles) was higher among users of statins relative to nonusers of these drugs.”

A medical study published in the June 14th, 2018, medical journal PLOS showed Statin users had a significantly higher risk of Herpes Zoster (HZ) than non-statin users and the risk was especially high in the elderly. The risk increased in terms of cumulative dose and the duration of statin use. Conclusion of the study:  “These epidemiologic findings provide strong evidence for an association between HZ and statin use,and suggest that unnecessary statins should be avoided.”

Many physicians recommend getting the Shingrix vaccine (nonliving) made of a virus component. It’s given in two doses, with 2-6 months between doses. The most common side effects of a shingles vaccine are redness, pain, tenderness, swelling and itching at the injection site, and headaches. However, according to the Mayo clinic people can still develop shingles despite vaccination. As with all vaccines the intention is to reduce the severity and duration of illness from the virus.

A total of 228 drugs are known to interact with Shingrix including atorvastatin, gabapentin, ibuprofen, levothyroxine, lisinopril, loratadine, meloxicam, and metformin. Ask your pharmacist regarding medications you are currently taking and potential interactions.

Regardless of whether you get vaccinated or not for shingles, you still need to help your immune system should you get shingles to prevent postherpetic neuralgia.

Postherpetic neuralgia occurs when nerves have been damaged in the area where an outbreak of shingles has occurred. The pain of shingles persists after the rash has gone and, in some people, it lasts months or even years.

In our practice we see numerous patients with postherpetic neuralgia even though they have been given treatments by their medical doctor. To avoid this long-lasting pain, it is crucial to begin natural treatments as soon as possible after diagnosis to prevent nerve damage. The longer the person has experienced the pain, the more difficult it is to reverse it.

Upon Shingles diagnosis immediately start taking (along with your doctor’s treatments):

Natural Anti-viral such as Olive leaf extract (Natural Factors) or ViraStop (Woodstock Herbals) or Echinamide Anti-V (Natural Factors) to kill off the virus. Follow directions on the label and take as long as needed even if you are on an anti-viral medication from the doctor.

B-12 1000mcg (sublingual) (Jarrow Formulas) under the tongue 2 x day to protect the nerve.

Vitamin B6 100mg- 2 x day and Nerve Support (Woodstock Herbals) 20 drops in 1 oz water 2x day to protect the nerve from damage.

Curcumin 2 or 3 x day with meals for pain and inflammation relief.

If sores are open apply Colloidal Silver gel to kill the infection topically.

I can’t urge strenuously enough to begin this treatment as soon as possible when shingles has been diagnosed and to continue for at least 2 weeks after pain is completely gone.

To schedule an in-office or telephone Appointment at the Tree of Life Wellness 508-336-4242

Jane Jansen  Holistic Practitioner

 Tree of Life Wellness Center

Host Holistic Healthline Radio