By Annetta Ribken
You may have heard of shingles, especially if you’re in the over-forty group, but there are a lot of misconceptions about shingles and the treatment. For those who have contracted the illness, the side-effects of the anti-viral drugs on the market may outweigh the benefits, especially if you have underlying medical conditions. The good news is there are alternative treatments available with essential oils that can help mitigate this painful illness.
Shingles is caused by the reactivation of the dormant virus after an episode of chickenpox. The virus, varicella-zoster, hides in the nerve cells near the spine and can be triggered later on by stress, a compromised immune system, aging, or illness. Characterized by a burning pain on one side of the body, shingles will then evolve to a rash of fluid-filled blisters. The pain is often debilitating and quite severe in some cases, and can last weeks or even months.
Shingles are not contagious, however, the fluid from the blistering rash contains the varicella-zoster virus, and people who have not been exposed to chickenpox can catch it from exposure to the blisters.
Although there is no cure for shingles, there are things you can do to help manage the symptoms. Antiviral drugs are most effective when taken within 72 hours of the onset of symptoms, but they are also effective at managing the pain and rash even when taken outside this window. Still, antiviral drugs may not be suitable for all people to take. What are some of the alternatives?
Essential oils have been used for centuries in the treatment of shingles and the painful rash that accompanies this illness. The advantages are essential oils are relatively inexpensive and have few, if any, side-effects.
Oregano Essential Oil: Oregano essential oil is from the family of mint, and has very potent anti-fungal, antibacterial, anti-viral and anti-parasitic properties. Because of its strength, it is recommended that oregano essential oil be diluted with a base oil such as jojoba oil for optimal results.
Tea Tree Oil: Tea tree oil is steam distilled from a small shrub from Australia from the family of myrtle. Australian natives have known for centuries about the anti-fungal, anti-viral, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties of tea tree oil. It is also considered to be a potent disinfectant.
Lavender Essential Oil: Also from the mint family, lavender essential oil not only smells heavenly, it too has powerful antiseptic properties. It is also known for its calming effect, and can reduce pain and irritation as well as soothing inflammation.
Geranium Essential Oil: Originating from Egypt or India, geranium essential oil joins this family of antiseptics and is also good as an antispasmodic and antioxidant to calm the nerves and boost the immune system.
Here is an essential oil recipe that can be used to treat the painful rash of shingles:
10 drops lavender
10 drops tea tree oil
5 drops geranium
2 drops oregano
10 drops jojoba or other base oil
This mixture should be combined in a glass bowl. Test a small sample on the inside of the forearm. Then, if no reaction is noted, clean the affected area with a gentle cleanser and pat dry. Apply the essential oil mixture with clean cotton balls, and let dry. This can be applied twice a day, typically once in the morning and once at night. The only side-effect known could be redness, irritation, or rash, but it is rare and if it occurs, treatment should be stopped immediately and the redness or irritation will clear up right away.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for shingles, and if you’ve experienced chickenpox, you already have the virus in your system. Therefore, the best course of treatment is prevention. To this end, it is important to keep your immune system in tip-top shape. This means eating healthy, getting enough rest, and taking nutritional supplements such as L-Lysine, which has been shown to be beneficial in helping to prevent the spread of the virus to healthy cells.
Medication in the form of antidepressants and anti-virals can help reduce the pain and lessen the duration of shingles, but for immediate relief with few, if any, side-effects, essential oils work very well. If the pain becomes too intense to control, or a fever should develop, contact a professional health care provider immediately.