Are you or someone you love suffering and wondering how to get rid of shingles?!
By a guest author
I was shocked when a friend recently told me that her twenty-something boyfriend was just diagnosed with shingles. When I was growing up the only people who ever got shingles were white-haired seniors, not young men at their peak of health!
Well it turns out her boyfriend is not an isolated statistic – shingles is not only showing up in larger numbers, but also at younger and younger ages.
Oh, reader, if you've never had shingles, believe me, you want to keep reading… 'cause not only does getting shingles SUCK! (See that picture? That's a relatively small outbreak.), but more and more people are getting this long-lasting and painful condition – AND at younger and younger ages!
What causes shingles?
Part of the problem appears to be that the immune response to the chickenpox vaccination is much less effective than the natural process of catching and recovering from a simple childhood disease. This allows the virus to re-appear later in life as shingles.
A new systematic review published in PLoS titled, “Herpes Zoster Risk Reduction through Exposure to Chickenpox Patients: A Systematic Multidiscplinary Review,” confirms that the widespread adoption of the chickenpox vaccine over the past 30 years, which has resulted in a decline in chickenpox cases associated with infection from the wild-circulating virus, has lead to a concerning increase in the incidents of herpes zoster (shingles), a far more serious expression of chickenpox virus (varicella zoster) infection…
For example, in 2006, a chickenpox outbreak occurred in a population of Arkansas schoolchildren with 97% immunization compliance. When the researchers looked at the difference in outbreak cases between one-dose and two-dose children, none could be found.
(Emphasis mine, Source: A Pox on the CDC’s Vaccination Agenda: The Rise of Herpes Zoster (Shingles) )
How is shingles related to chickenpox?
Chickenpox introduces a specific virus (varicella zoster) into our system. When the body is allowed to pass through its normal healing response, the immune system is eventually able to overpower the virus, hopefully for a lifetime, although it is not eliminated from the body permanently, just made inactive.
If, however, later in life the immune system weakens, a slightly altered form of the virus (herpes zoster) can get released, creating a painful, long-lasting skin rash known as shingles.
What's the treatment for shingles?
Currently, the conventional medical approach is to just wait for the virus to run its course while the immune system eventually re-sequesters the virus back into tissue. Typically recovery takes about a month, but your length of time will reflect the condition of your immune system. I have heard many stories of elderly people having it for months and months at a time.
I can't imagine living through months of that stinging, keep-me-awake-at-night misery!
Chickenpox on purpose?
Because I wanted my child to develop the strongest immunity to chickenpox possible, I deliberately exposed her to a five-year-old playmate who had just started itching.
After my daughter caught it, she and her friend did some recovery time together. Us two single working moms were able to alternate taking time off work to caregive our sick kids in shifts. Both girls were back to school in about a week.
–These type of scenarios are why you hear about chickenpox parties: Is a chickenpox party a dumb idea?
–Or see Kelly's related post: When you can't catch chickenpox.
However, even naturally catching and recovering from chickenpox does NOT guarantee a lifetime immunity to shingles.
For example, I developed a case of shingles when I was in my mid-40's even though I had gotten chickenpox as a child. I also recently heard from a woman with a natural, not artificial, immunity, who said she got shingles even younger, “as an immune compromised young adult.”
So while artificial immunization for chickenpox doesn't appear to be as effective for immunity as a natural exposure, it's clearly not the only factor in preventing shingles.
If we want to avoid adult-onset shingles or want to know how to get rid of shingles, we also need to understand what other factors can significantly weaken our immune response…
How to get rid of shingles fast!
1. So what happened to the twenty-something with shingles?
When he went to his doctor, he had had his outbreak less than a week. His physician told him to expect another 3-4 weeks of misery – it normally takes THAT long to recover once shingles starts.
Well, hearing that lit the fire of motivation!
Despite his previous reluctance to take his girlfriend's health advice, he immediately started on this spore-based probiotic to get rid of shingles.
The stinging rash improved with the first cap and was totally gone in a week! I wonder what would have happened if he'd taken two or three caps daily, rather than the recommended dose of one?
The boyfriend is a true believer now, and takes his maintenance dose of one cap daily, with nary a reminder from his girlfriend.
2. And how did I speed up my own recovery and get rid of shingles in my mid-forties? You won't believe this, wait for it… tanning!
This was back in the mid-90's. I was complaining at work about the pain of the rash and how the creams and external applications gave very little relief, and a co-worker who overheard popped up over my cubicle wall to say her husband's depression and low-functioning immune resistance always improved using a tanning booth and had I tried that for the shingles?
I was desperate to try anything… and heck if that didn't work!
I got some relief from the stinging itchiness after the first tanning session. Continuing the treatments about every other day, I healed much faster than the doctor said — a little more than two weeks rather than four. (Imagine how swift my recovery would have been had I been able to combine the tanning with the probiotics!)
In retrospect, I think the tanning helped because I probably had a pretty severe vitamin D deficiency (think December in Vermont), which had lowered my immune resistance.
Tanning, not swallowing vitamin D? It's all about the gut!
Later, I read in a book by one of the original vitamin D researchers (I think it was Dr. Robert Heaney, but have long since misplaced the book) that a certain percentage of his patients never responded to vitamin D supplementation. Instead, he had to resort to prescribing tanning treatments for them. Only then could their blood serum vitamin D rise to a normal level.
In addition, he noted that those patients all had long-standing gut problems and he believed they were, therefore, unable to effectively absorb their vitamin D orally. The tanning worked because the vitamin D production happened in the skin and bypassed the gut.
My guess? Those patients had an overgrowth of pathological strains in their gut. If they had been able to correct that microbial imbalance, they would have reduced their gut inflammation and improved their nutrient absorption. Over time they would have effectively replaced the tanning with supplemental sources of D, like cod liver oil or vitamin D supplements, while maintaining their blood serum levels.
(Kelly here, if you do need a quality vitamin D supplement though, this is the only vitamin D-3 we take. But if so, be sure to read this first: If you take vitamin D or Calcium, what you MUST do first!)
Short microvilli? Short life!
The key to increasing nutrient absorption is to reduce the numbers of harmful bacteria in the gut. As Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride has said repeatedly over the years, those strains produce “a river of toxicity coming from the gut” and those bacteria-produced irritants inflame the gut wall and cause the microvilli that line the inside of the intestines to get blunted over time.
We absorb our nutrients through the microvilli. Once microvilli become blunted, or non-existent, what we eat, no matter how healthy, provides about as much nutrition as eating plastic food.
The best way I know to kill harmful strains in the gut – and only the harmful strains – is by consuming gut commensal spore probiotics. These strains are actually designed to come alive in our intestines and immediately begin searching the intestinal environment to find harmful microbes. They improve the microbial balance by selectively killing only “the bad guys”.
So, my approach to prevent adult-onset shingles? (And how to get rid of shingles?)
- Avoid both the chickenpox AND shingles vaccines.
- Take this probiotic daily to reduce the numbers of pathological strains in my gut, improve my ability to absorb nutrients from my food and supplements and support my immune system.
- Get as much natural sunlight as possible and skip the sunscreen! Read my article Scary Sunscreen Dangers & What to Do Instead for Protection.
- Get regular blood serum testing (see this article to be sure your doctor orders the correct test) so I know FOR SURE how much vitamin D is in my body, and
- Based on my test results and the time of year, selectively use both tanning and vitamin D caps.
I'm in my early 60's and so far, so good! What about you? Ever had shingles? If so, why do you think you got it and did anything work to shorten the duration or pain?
More you might like, including the links mentioned above:
- More about cod liver oil
- The vitamin D supplements we take
- The Who, Why and When of Vitamin D Screening
- If you take vitamin D or Calcium, what you MUST do first
- Scary Sunscreen Dangers, 8 “Burning” Issues & What to Do Instead for Protection
- Spore-based probiotics
- When you can't catch chickenpox
Photo Credits: shingles, I Love Your Guts, girl, plastic food
My mother had a severe case of shingles at least ten years ago around her eye and forehead, which left her with permanent nerve pain. She has suffered terribly all these years and now has dementia and can’t seem to handle the pain. I wonder if giving her probiotics would help, at this point. It is difficult to get her to swallow pills, but if it would help, we would give it a try! Thanks for any input!
Rhonda, Just Thrive’s cap is easily opened, the powder is tasteless and can be added any kind of food or drink, either hot or cold. The JT bacteria have been heated in tests up to 455 degrees, so no worries! You can add it to anything and they will still help your mom!
Susan D says
I just finished a bout with shingles and was able to have them gone in two weeks with three acupuncture treatments.
A. Banning says
I am so glad someone mentioned L-lysine. I developed shingles after a very bad burn. I developed flu-like symptoms after my ER visit, and thought I must have caught a virus from the ER. I started taking 4 grams of lysine 4 times per day. About 2 days after starting the lysine, the shingles rash developed in the burned area, although at first I didn’t recognize it was shingles. After realizing It was shingles, I looked online to see if flu-like symptoms preceeded the appearance of the rash. That confirmed the shingles. In the big scheme of things, the rash resolved itself in about a week after the eruptions appeared. Starting the lysine when I did prevented the development of a full-blown case of shingles.
Wendy Tico says
I found this clip very informative about the growing incidence of shingles https://www.boughtmovie.com/bought-movie-bonus-short-chickenpox/
Amanda McConaghy says
You get a booster naturally by being around chicken pox. 4 years ago 4 of my kids had them all at the same time. I’m good for a while now. 🙂
Kathy Alletson says
My daughter had chicken pox five times head to toe then was diagnosed with Burkitt’s Lymphoma
Jill-David Boman says
I’m so sorry, Kathy! Was your daughter vaccinated for chickenpox? Do you have a natural health practitioner working with her or a functional medicine doctor? We have seen first hand the VAST difference it can make in the outcomes for cancer patients! This is a site that helps you find a fm practitioner in your area. https://functionalmedicinedoctors.com/
April Bender Collins says
Weird. I was just talking to someone about my 3 year old getting shingles right after his varicella. (Now I know better). Not only was he MISERABLE for almost 3 weeks, but he still has a scar (11 years later) from the giant skin biopsy they took.
Marcy T says
I had chicken pox as a child….at age 50 (5 years ago) I got shingles. The 1st 2 days I had deep shoulder pain that I finally went to the ER for. I got a pain prescription as they couldn’t figure out what was up. About 3 days later (only used pain meds for 2 days) I had a mild outbreak. My pain was minimal, sore were small and never got a scabbing point and it went away quickly. My husband got a mild case about 3 years later and we used essential oils and it was resolved quickly also. NO IMMUNIZATIONS FOR US!!
Glad to hear you and your husband had only a mild outbreak! Hadn’t heard about using essential oils, great tip! And now you have two other tools in your toolbox to support your immune system – gut commensal spore bacteria and vitamin D. We can never get enough immune support, can we?
Linda Clark Grabow says
My father in law got The vaccine because they suggested he needed it while at his appt. & then guess what he came down with about a week later! Shingles!!! Go figure!!!
Erin Wilson says
And now thanks to the chicken pox vaccine more and more children are breaking out in Shingles!
Stacy Babst says
My oldest son first got shingles when he was 18 and the doctors keep telling us that is rare to be that young. The main reason we had him vaxxed for chicken pox when he was little was to avoid shingles because my hubbies aunt suffered from it so much. 🙁
Send the article to your son! My friend’s boyfriend was only 23 when he got his Shingles and using the probiotic listed in the article it improved on the first cap and was gone within a week!
Heather Grenier McDougall says
Now elderly generations don’t just avoid, they run in fear – the slightest hint of sniffles or a cough and they hide from their own grandchildren. To their own detriment. Likewise, our children can catch the *real, wild* strain of chicken pox most reliably from the elderly generation when they have shingles naturally.
So true Heather! I think it’s critically important particularly for our elderly to be consuming gut commensal spore probiotics. We have to clean up the microbiome to strenghten the 80% of our immune system located there.
Karin Edstrom says
I don’t think there is a chicken pox booster. I’ve had shingles twice. Miserable. The shot is in excess of 2 hundred dollars and medicare won’t pay for it.
Shelly Palmer says
It’s a natural one our bodies produce for those whom have had chicken pox.
No fun Karin! But I think you’re actually lucky you couldn’t afford the shot! The track record on the shots indicate they only weaken your immune system overall. Try the more natural approaches suggested in the article to STRENGTHEN your immune system instead.
Alice Benham says
It’s like Sandy said up there; those of us who had chicken pox as a child used to get regular booster immunity from being exposed to kids who had chicken pox. We’re not getting that now, so our immunity to the virus wanes over time.
Caroline Weaver says
My husband had a bad case of the shingles last year. He was miserable for about 3 months.
Cherie Bissett-Bouma says
…and now they have a vaccine for shingles. 🙁
Jennifer Kneip says
The shingles vaccine doesn’t work! It gives people shingles?
Holly Michaels says
The Varicella and Shingles vaccines are live virus and shed. The Varicella vaccine was taken off the recommended schedule in the UK because Shingles exploded in children and adults. In the US our legislators are bought and paid for by pharma. Instead of taking Varicella off the schedule, they created the Shingles vaccine for more profit. Shingles is a gift that keeps on giving. My friends kid broke out in Shingles after her Varicella vaccine. Now, almost yearly she gets Shingles. That is NOT okay!!
Sandy Betten says
We’re no longer receiving natural boosters from the younger generation. One vaccine caused pharma to produce the other.
Kelly Smith says
My Mom got shingles and experienced permanent nerve damage from it. If I could avoid that, I think I would!
Karin Valenti says
It doesn’t sound fun for sure.
Jill-David Boman says
The way to avoid it is to be around children with natural (wild) chickenpox virus periodically, which is how it used to be. This is why shingles is on the rise–fewer and fewer kids are getting chickenpox because of the vaccine, so adults aren’t getting the natural boosters they used to get. The chickenpox vaccine interrupted successful herd immunity, which is peaceful co-existence with a virus or bacteria. Now we have a problem, whereas before there wasn’t one.
Wendy Sims says
I had read something stating that very thing, grandparents are no longer around sick grandkids (chicken pox sick) and the immune system doesnt keep the immunity it once had. Another reason vaccinations should be carefully thought out if any are gotten.
Karin Valenti says
And shingles is way worse than measles. But wait they happen to have a vaccine for shingles. I am upset that fear is being used to coerce the elderly to get the shingles vaccine. They scared my mom into it despite her doc (chiro) telling her not to and her own intuition which she overrode.
Kelly the Kitchen Kop says
So frustrating Karin!
Jill Boman says
Great article! Another tool in the shingles-busting arsenal we’ve learned about is the amino acid L-lysine. My husband has had shingles a couple times when he was really run down and stressed (and in wintertime when vitamin D levels are low), but fortunately, after the first time, we learned that if L-Lysine (https://amzn.to/2q5mi5W) is taken at the beginning of an outbreak it can really help nip it in the bud! Lysine is also used for cold sores/herpes, which is a related virus.
Thank you for that tip! Yes, I had forgotten about L-Lysine. I’ve used it very successfully myself for cold sores. Thanks again 🙂