advertisement



Q & A Library


Print this page | Sign up for free e-bulletins
 | Bookmark This Page

Q
Shutting Out Shingles?

What vitamins or supplements can help prevent shingles? My mother gets shingles about four times a year, and it is very disruptive to her daily activities.

A
Answer (Published 5/28/2003)

Updated 4/11/2005

Shingles is caused by the herpes zoster virus that is also responsible for chicken pox. In fact, an attack of shingles comes from a reactivation of the virus, which can lie dormant in the body after a case of chicken pox. No one knows why the invader suddenly wakes up to stage a new attack, but 10 to 20 percent of those who have had chicken pox as children will someday develop shingles. (If you never had that childhood disease, you can catch it from someone with shingles.)

Related Weil Products
Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging for Allergies - Do you suffer from allergies or asthma? Your diet may be negatively impacting your symptoms - join the Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging online plan for access to hundreds of recipes and information that can help lessen the discomforts of allergies. Join today and get 14 days free!

Shingles usually begins with an itch, a tingling sensation, or a stabbing pain, usually on the surface of the skin of the torso or the face. A few days later, a rash develops. It runs along the course of a nerve root on one side of the body and turns into small, fluid-filled blisters that then dry out and crust. At its peak, the outbreak can cause intense pain. In its early stages before the rash appears, the condition is often misdiagnosed, as a pulled muscle, for example. Shingles usually runs its course in three to five weeks. Although sometimes people can continue to have severe pain for months or even years after the lesions go away.

I doubt that your mother has been experiencing recurrent bouts of shingles. Although it is possible to get shingles more than once, this happens in only one to five percent of patients, usually those whose immune systems are compromised in some way. These cases can occur many years after the first episode and tend not to develop in the same area of the body as the first bout. Most people who appear to experience multiple episodes of shingles are probably having recurrent infection with a related virus, herpes simplex, which causes cold sores. For that reason, I recommend that your mother see her physician for a diagnosis of her problem and treatment that will bring it under control. I know of no vitamins or other supplements to prevent shingles, but antiviral drugs can shorten attacks, and acupuncture and topical creams containing capsaicin (the substance that makes chilies hot) can help relieve the pain.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved Creative Commons Copyright Notice
A portion of the original material created by Weil Lifestyle, LLC on DrWeil.com (specifically, all question and answer-type articles in the Dr. Weil Q&A Library) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

The Weil Vitamin Advisor
Get your FREE personalized vitamin recommendation & supplement plan today!

Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging
Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Start eating for your health - begin your free trial now.

Dr. Weil's Spontaneous Happiness
Achieve emotional well-being
in just eight weeks!
Start your 10-day free trial now!

Vitamin Library
Supplement your knowledge with Dr. Weil's essential vitamin facts. Learn why they are necessary and more.

Dr. Weil's Optimum Health Plan
Your 8-week plan to wellness.
Begin your journey today!
 

Dr. Weil's Head-to-Toe
Wellness Guide

Your guide to natural health.
Use the Wellness Guide today!

Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet Food Pyramid
Our interactive tool can help improve overall health through diet.

Condition Care Guide
Learn about health conditions from acne to vertigo, and Dr. Weil's view of the best treatment options for each.

Healthy Recipes
Discover a treasure trove of healthy, healing foods and creative, delicious ways to prepare them.

Q&A Library
Over 2,000 questions from you
and their corresponding answers
from Dr. Weil.

 
Copyright © 2014 Weil Lifestyle, LLC
Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

Ad Choice
Advertising Notice

This Site and third parties who place advertisements on this Site may collect and use information about your visits to this Site and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like to obtain more information about these advertising practices and to make choices about online behavioral advertising, please click here