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    Anyone who has had shingles knows what a painful condition it is. This is because shingles is an infection of the nerve that affects the area of skin surrounding it. Shingles is caused by the same virus that causes chicken pox. The virus lies dormant, and breaks out any time after a chicken pox infection- sometimes even after decades. It is not known exactly how the virus is reactivated, but it may be caused by lowered immunity, due to old age, stress, HIV or by certain drugs that suppress the body’s immune system. It is not possible to catch shingles from someone else with the condition. However, it is possible for someone who has never had chicken pox to catch chicken pox from someone with shingles.
    Symptoms of shingles differ depending on the different nerves that it affects. The primary symptom is severe pain in one part of the body. The sensation of pain can be accompanied by itchiness, extreme ache or tingling sensation. The pain is usually quick, intense and difficult to bear. Other symptoms include vision problems, hearing loss, fever and chills, taste problems and muscle weakness. Rashes also appear in the same affected area. The rash is gradually transformed into bunches of red bumps. Later on these red bumps become small blisters filled with fluids that are very painful to touch.

    Ayurveda’s Approach

    Conventional methods of treatment for Shingles include intake of oral anti-virus medications and the use of a wide spectrum of steroids, painkillers, antidepressants, anticonvulsants and topical ointments. However, many people opt for Ayurvedic treatment for Shingles because it has no side effects. Ayurveda, which is often called the Mother of all Medicine, has its roots in India. It is a totally natural system of healing which has a 5000 year old track record of holistic healthcare. Kerala in South India is especially famed for its traditional families of Ayurvedic Physicians or vaidyas. These vaidyas have formulated personalized and specialized treatment for shingles that is aimed at controlling the pain, treating localized symptoms and preventing complications like neuralgia. In the initial stages, when the disease is manifested in the form of blisters, herbal ointments are applied on the blisters. Once the blisters collapse with ulcer formation, specialized ointments made of specific herbs for this stage are applied. This application is continued until there is a complete resolution of the lesions. In order to control pain, medicines like Triphala-Guggulu are given to the patient. Herbal medicines which have a definite antiviral action are used to control the herpes zoster virus that causes shingles.

    One of the most common herbal remedies for shingles includes application of a paste of turmeric powder on the affected area. Being a natural antiseptic, turmeric speeds up healing and relieves the sufferer from pain. To help the blisters dry, clean them with a cloth moistened in a mixture of 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar and 2 cups of water. Sprinkle colloidal oatmeal powder on the parts of the body where clothes rub against skin to diminish pain. Another effective home remedy is to apply aloe vera gel, raw honey, or fresh leek juice over the rash several times a day. Pear juice is very good too, as pears are rich in antiviral caffeic acid. At the same time it is best to avoid foods containing the amino acid arginine, such as chocolate, cereal grains, nuts, and seeds.

    In most patients with shingles, the rash usually resolves within 2 to 3 weeks. It is important to prevent post-herpetic neuralgia, especially in elderly patients who are more prone to complications. Patients with involvement of the eyes should be referred to an Ophthalmologist for appropriate treatment. Shingles should never be taken lightly as it can lead to pneumonia, hearing problems, blindness, and brain inflammation. Consult a physician as early as possible, and remember, Ayurveda is a good option for the treatment of Shingles.

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