Better Nutrition

The truth about shingles

This formerly rare complicati­on from chicken pox is becoming more and more common. Here’s what you need to know

- By Emily A. Kane, ND, LAC

While it would be best to avoid getting shingles in the fi rst place, neither avoiding the “wild type” disease nor the vaccine seems to be a good strategy. This is because getting chicken pox for the fi rst time as an adult is absolutely miserable; the disease is usually not as debilitati­ng in children, and once you’ve had it, you have lifelong immunity against it.

And that’s the issue with the vaccine. We don’t know if it confers lifelong immunity. In general, vaccines need to be boostered throughout life, but there is little informatio­n about boostering the chicken pox vaccine in adults. When the “wild type” virus was more prevalent, many adults got automatica­lly boostered by being in the proximity of kids with childhood chicken pox. In fact, one theory as to why we’re seeing more shingles now is that this boostering eff ect is diminishin­g as more parents choose to vaccinate their children.

Natural Healing

There are several naturopath­ic approaches to shingles. In terms of prevention, do your best to manage stress. This generally involves having a little fun every day, as well as drinking enough water, getting enough sleep, having meaningful relationsh­ips, and fi nding some “me” time on a regular basis. And if you live in a low- sun climate and are planning a trip to somewhere sunny, make sure to use sunscreen and avoid sudden, intense sun exposure.

Many naturopath­ic therapies are very eff ective for viral infections. Some of my favorites include high- dose vitamin A ( 50,000 IUs daily for 5 days, but no longer); zinc ( 50 mg daily for 1– 2 weeks); and buff - ered vitamin C. If the lesions are persistent,

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