Shingles – Herpes Zoster

This disease is caused by the Varicella-Zoster Virus, the same virus that causes chicken pox. Shingles affects the nerve endings in the skin. The skin of the abdomen, under the ribs leading toward the navel is most commonly affected. Most adults have already contracted chicken pox, however, once the varicella-zoster virus enters the body and has caused chicken pox, it doesn’t go away. It may lie dormant in the spinal cord and nerve ganglia for years until activated, usually by a weakening of the immune system. Then the varicella-zoster infection spreads to the very ends of the nerves causing them to send impulses to the brain that are interpreted as severe pain, itching, or burning and rendering the skin much more sensitive than usual.

An attack of shingles is increased by stress, cancer, and immune system deficiency. Often something as minor as a small injury or mild cold can lead to an attack in an otherwise healthy person. Shingles strikes some 850,000 Americans each year. It is most common in people over 50, when immune system function begins to decline. For people with immune deficiencies, shingles and it’s aftermath can be devastating. The disease is capable of affecting the internal organs, attacking even the lung and kidneys. If it goes unchecked, shingles can lead to permanent injury – blindness, deafness, paralysis, or even death can occur due to a viral pneumonia brought on by shingles.


An attack of shingles is often preceded by three or four days of chills, fever, and achiness, then crops of tiny blisters appear. The affected area becomes extremely painful and sensitive to the touch. Other symptoms include numbness, depression, tingling, shooting pains, fever, and headache. This phase of shingles lasts 7-14 days. The blisters eventually form crusty scabs and drop off.

  1. James F. Balch, M.D, Phyllis A. Balch, C.N.C, “Prescription for Nutritional Healing,” (1997)
  2. R. Naganawa, et al., “Inhibition of Micrbial Growth by Ajoene, a Sulfur-containing Compund Derived from Garlic,” Appl Environ Microbiol, 62(11) November 1996, p.4238-4242
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