Shingles is caused by the virus that causes chickenpox,
varicella-zoster. Approximately 20% of North
Americans develop shingles at some point in their life.
Two-thirds of people who get shingles are over the age of 60. If
you've ever had chickenpox (typically during childhood), this
virus may quietly hide in the roots of some of your nerves and
can re-activate late. This is known as shingles, herpes zoster,
or "the devil's whip."
The incidence of shingles (e.g. the new
cases of shingles each year) in
is 59,757 cases. So it is not at all a rare health trouble in Canada.
Factors that may trigger the hidden virus
are: older age; illness; use of drugs that suppress the body's
immune system (e.g., corticosteroids for severe asthma); HIV
infection or certain types of cancer, or radiation treatment.
When the virus becomes active again, you may get symptoms such
as rash, upset stomach, headache, fever, and the chills. The
rash itself is reddish, with many tiny, fluid-filled blisters.
From before the time
the rash erupts until after it's healed, you'll be itchy. If
your immune system isn't working at full capacity, your rash and
symptoms will be more severe and take longer to heal, which can
lead to scarring.
For some people, after healing of the skin blister, they (about
20% to 50% of them) still feel pain on the affected skin, that
is called post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN).
It is characterized
by severe pain along affected nerves. It can last for several
weeks (45% of them) or even for several months or years (22% of
the patients), even after your blisters have cleared up. The
cause of PHN is not known。
Shingles usually disappears on its own. You may only need
treatment to relieve pain.
Antiviral medicine, such as acyclovir. Desciclovir, famciclovir,
valacyclovir, and penciclovir are commonly used. These drugs
help reduce pain and complications and may shorten the course of
the disease. Strong anti-inflammatory medicines, such as
corticosteroids, prednisone, may be used to reduce swelling and
the risk of continued pain. These drugs however do not work in
all patients. It could be very difficult to stop pain in the
patients with post-herpetic neuralgia.
Treatment with Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)
acute stage of the shingles with extremely pain and blister, it
is usually diagnosed as Fire and Wetness in the body by the TCM
system. Chinese herbs, orally or topically, are used. Sometimes,
acupuncture is also used, depending on the availability of the
acupuncture. With the post-herpetic neuralgia, where there is no
skin blister but mostly pain on the skin, the diagnosis with TCM
may be different so do the herbal formula, though principally we
also use Chinese herbal therapy and/or acupuncture.
Longdan Xiegan wan
is one of the mostly used Chinese herb formula in the treatment
of shingles. In one study with 31 patients with shingles, the
use of this herb cured 28 patients, improved 2 and did not work
for one. The average time for the use of the herbs is 4 to 7
san is pretty good in the treatment of shingles. It is an orally
intake herbs. Generally speaking one needs to take it for 1 to 2
days to reduce pain. After 2 to 3 days the blister starts to
shrink and after 43 to 4 days the blister becomes dry and turns
to scar. The cure occurs without later sequelae.
(3). Yunan Baiyao
This is a herbal powder and used topically. In one study with 91
cases of shingles, fifty one patients were cured within 3 to 4
days. Thirty eight were cured within 5 to 7 days. Two cases were
improved, though not cured. It takes about one hour to start
reduction of pain.
(4). Liusheng wan
a group of patients (189 cases) with shingles, the use of
Liusheng wan makes 67 of them cured within one to two days, 85
of them within 3 to 4 days, and other 37 of them within 5 to 6
(5). Other herbs used are Zijin ding and
With the use of
Zijin Ding, blister could become dryness within 2 to 4
times of smear of the herb lotion. It takes 2 to 6 days to stop
(6). Jideshen shaoyao
This herb formula is also used orally and
topically. It takes about 5 days to cure.
(7). Xihuang wan
After intake of Xihuang wan (herb pills)
for 2 to 3 days, blister become shallow, skin color turns to
normal, blister becomes dry and pain stop.
II. Flower-needle with
affected skin with flower-needle first, then use suction cup to
perform cupping therapy. Or, you can just tap the surrounding
area of the affected skin with the flower-needle. Once a day for