Shingles / Herpes Zoster
Shingles is an acute, painful inflammation of the nerve cell bodies with skin eruptions. It is caused by the same virus as chicken pox (herpes zoster). The initial infection with varicella zoster virus causes the acute, short-lived illness we call chickenpox, but once an episode of chickenpox is resolved, the virus is not eliminated from the body, but lies dormant in sensory (skin) nerves. If the immune system is compromised (from things including emotional stress, illness or long-term use of corticosteroids), the dormant viruses may start to infect the pathway of the skin nerves, which is called shingles, and happens ofttimes many years after the initial infection.
The earliest symptoms of shingles often include headache, fever, malaise and at times, intestinal upset, and are followed by sensations of burning pain, itching, oversensitivity and a “pins and needles” tingling, pricking or numbness. The pain can be mild to extreme. This initial phase (generally 1-2 days, but sometimes as long as 3 weeks) is followed by a painful skin rash of blisters that erupt along the nerve pathway, which is commonly on the torso, but can appear on the face, eyes and other parts of the body. Occurrences of shingles around the eyes or on the forehead can cause blindness. The rash typically appears in a stripe or belt-like pattern that is characteristically limited to one side of the body and does not cross the midline.
Equal amounts of Ravensara essential oil and Tamanu oil (Calophyllum) applied to a shingles outbreak have produced dramatic improvement and complete remission within 7 days (Alternative Medicine, The Definitive Guide, p. 56, 971). We call this blend Shingles B Gone and added Geranium essential oil to this protocol because of its positive effects for nerves and skin regeneration. The most bio-available/easily assimlated form of vitamin C is Liposomal vitamin C.
Geranium Oil Effective for Post-Shingles Pain
Once a person has had chicken pox, the varicella-zoster virus lies dormant in their body and can develop into a painful case of shingles many years after the original chicken pox infection.
The initial manifestation of shingles is a cluster of painful blisters that appear on an area of the skin, which typically heal within three to ten days. In some cases, the skin lesions are followed by chronic nerve pain near the area where the skin lesions occurred. It is believed that the chronic pain is due to the virus settling in the root of the nerve that supplies that area of the skin.
Shingles is more likely to occur in people with challenged immune function such as the elderly or those with cancer. Traditional allopathic treatment is prescription anti-viral medications such as Zovirax, Famvir or Valtrex. In addition to antibiotics, some mainstream physicians prescribe steroids, antidepressants, and in severe cases nerve blocks, because the pain can persist for months or even years.
In 2003 a preliminary study in The American Journal of Medicine (115:586-7) suggested that topical, undiluted Geranium essential oil is a superior and effective option for immediate relief from post-herpetic neuralgia (shingles). The more highly concentrated the oil, the better, with study participants reporting pain relief in direct proportion to the percentage of geranium oil present in their topical mixture. Capsaicin cream has also been shown to provide some relief, although it was outdone by the undiluted geranium oil in this study. Those using 100% Geranium essential oil had greater pain relief than those using 10% Geranium oil. The study noted that a few minor skin reactions occurred in those using Geranium oil, but all reactions resolved within one hour. Two other essential oils mentioned are Peppermint (Mentha piperita) and Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra).
Darin Ingels, N.D., author of The Natural Pharmacist: Lowering Cholesterol (Prima, 1999) and Natural Treatments for High Cholesterol (Prima, 2000).
Maureen Williams, N.D., (private practice in Quechee, Vt.)
1. I am close to four people who have bouts with Shingles, and in every case they have found relief with equal parts of Plague Defense and Ravensara in a capsule every few hours (3 drops EO blend with carrier oil). For three of them, it took less than a day for relief, and the other one was much better after 2 days. [Hopewell Blend: Shingles Defense]
2. We have had great results using your Shingles Defense blend in a capsule (3 drops with carrier oil) two-to-three times daily. Blood tests were done before and after, and my doctor was astounded at how significantly the herpes zoster count dropped. I shared this with a friend, and she reported relief within minutes of taking the blend internally. After 3 doses (1 day) the breakout was over and has never reoccurred (in three years). [Shingles Defense is a blend of Ravensara, Clove, Lemon, Cinnamon Bark, Eucalyptus radiata and Rosemary.]
3. I am a massage therapist, and had a client who spent two months on medication for her shingles outbreak and was still suffering. I used Elemi on the arm that was affected. After this one application, she was able to get relief. The next time I saw her, I applied Elemi again on this arm, and she completely recovered and hasn’t had any problems in over a year.
4. Red Clover herb by Nature’s Way and Hopewell's Shingles B Gone applied topically helped me tremendously. [Shingles B Gone is a blend of Ravensara and Geranium in a base of Calophyllum, which is also known as Tamanu oil.]
5. I recently used Melissa to get rid of a case of shingles. I took one drop (diluted) under my tongue several times daily for a while, and then I upped it to four drops with a carrier oil) in a capsule morning and night. My herpes zoster count went to 0! Melissa is expensive, but it works, and it’s far less expensive than doctor visits and medications.
6. When my shingles acted up this last time, I blended 10 drops each of Lavender, Tea Tree and Thyme in massage oil and applied it topically for relief.
7. Your Shingles Defense and the topical Shingles B Gone are fantastic. My bout with shingles quickly resolved once I started using them. Great products! - John
8. I wanted to follow up with you on the Shingles Defense blend. Prior to taking the oils, I had visited the doctor and was sent home with the diagnosis of Shingles, and the BIGGEST bottle of anti-viral pills you'd ever seen! I was supposed to take 20 pills a day. I knew that there had to be a better alternative than this. When I found the Shingles blend on your site, I was thrilled since we've been using your oils for a while now. I took the Shingles Defense blend internally by capsule (10 drops 2x daily) and by the 3rd day, my symptoms were almost gone. A little bit of the nerve pain lingered for a few days after the visible signs had disappeared, but after 2 more days of taking the oils internally the pain had completely disappeared. I really feel that the oils sped up the healing process for me hugely! - L.K.
[Hopewell's Comment: 10 drops per dose is high. Most report good results with 3 drops with a carrier oil to fill the capsule.]
9. My husband broke out with the shingles rash on Christmas Day. I ordered HEO's Shingles Defense blend, and he started using about 3-4 days into the outbreak per the testimonies: 10 drops in a capsule. He was in SO much pain, but as long as he took the capsule on time, 3 times a day, the pain was manageable or gone all together. I also used a combination of Tea Tree, Lavender and Geranium oils full strength on the rash. It began to dry up after the first treatment, and dried completely after three applications. He was also on a prescription anti-viral and using OTC NSAIDS, but the pain was terrible until he started using Shingle Defense. Now, he is pain free and the rash is fading. Thank you for the information you have worked to put together for others and for the products you provide. - Rebekah W.
[Hopewell's Comment: 10 drops per dose high. Most report good results with 3 drops with a carrier oil to fill the capsule.]
10. Shingles B Gone is the best relief my husband gets for a continuing sensitivity problem left over from his bout with this terrible virus. - Mary H.
11. My husband took Methylcobalamin (vit b12) sublingually ~ 1MG ~ 3 times a day when he had shingles. It helped the pain within a day or two. It is also recommended to stay on 500mcg once they go away to prevent reoccurance. - B.J.M.
12. Some people do experience residual nerve pain for years after a case of shingles. I have had shingles twice. The second time, I was prepared with Shingles Defense (took it with me on vacation thankfully), and it gave me enormous relief, and the case did not spread. I had acupuncture with my first case which nipped the nerve pain in the bud. My acupuncturist says that she treats many people for residual nerve pain years after a case, but if you have acupuncture during the episode you can avoid that. That's been my experience. If I had the nerve pain I would try the Neuropathy blend from HEO. - Sally
13. My mom, who lives with us, came down with shingles early last year. She thought at first it was trigeminal neuralgia due to the knife stabbing pain by her ear. My mom is a tough lady and crying doesn't happen. It hurt so badly that she cried. Dad took her to the ER( she is 71), where they diagnosed her with shingles! The ER Dr. put her on the usual meds. She is allergic to codeine and they were aware of that. They sent her home with pain meds with codeine! So after 3 days she broke out all over! Ugh! I was so frustrated. I was new to the EO world, but I ordered the Shingles B Gone and the Shingles Defense from you. As soon as we received it, I made her take it! Being an old RN, she was a skeptic, and EO's were not something she was interested in! BUT within hours her pain was subsiding! Another miracle! Now she keeps them on hand. She has had 2 minor break outs of shingles in the same area (left side of head), but as soon as she takes the Shingles Defense by capsule (3 drops of the blend with carrier oil), the pain goes away within an hour. She is a believer/user of EO's now!! Oh, I could go on!! - Lynn
14. After 3 applications of Ravensara in a 16 hour period, my daughter's shingles look about 90% better! Everything looked so angry and painful. After the 3rd application, she ran to me after a 1/2 hour telling me to look, and I could not believe the difference. Just amazing. It stated to dilute with Tamanu oil, but I did not have that, so I used coconut oil instead. I am so thankful for essential oils. - Kim
15. I had my first shingles outbreak recently. Initially, I didn't know that what I had was shingles. I tried a couple of essential oil mixtures which helped with the pain and seemed to stop the spread, but I didn't feel it was actually helping with the initial outbreak. I ordered your Shingles B Gone and Shingles Defense, which finally began the healing process. Within hours, I could feel the lesions drying up. I also used compresses soaked in apple cider vinegar. Your website is amazing. So much valuable information! I told my friends about your wonderful products. Thanks so much for your dedication to essential oils. - Kate
16. I used the Shingles Defense and they were gone within 2 weeks. It took some time for research and to get the EO from HEO, but once I started using it they really never opened up. I just had a few bumps and whelps with the pain and itching which remained after they went down, then about 3 months later the aches and itching started up again and I new they were trying to come back, but they never popped out that time cause I started the treatment ASAP. All I had was just some mild pain and itching the second time. The blend was a lifesaver for me. Good to have on hand that's for sure. - Cathy