What if anything can be done to help with the battle of shingles? I’m a 33-year-old female who has battled with shingles off and on since I was in diapers. (Yes, I had chicken pox under the age of 18 months and it was a very bad case.) I just got over the worst case yet this summer and calamine lotion plus vitamin C helped a lot with the itching.
I confess I am a little confused about whether you have herpes simplex (which is a frequently recurring condition) or herpes zoster (which is caused by the chicken pox virus but recurs only rarely). “Shingles” refers to herpes zoster, while “cold sores” refers to herpes simplex.
You mentioned that you use vitamin C to help with the itching; in fact, vitamin C supplementation can combat a wide variety of viral infections and may help to end shingles outbreaks faster. In one study, 38 people with recurrent herpes simplex took one to two grams of vitamin C daily. Thirty of them remained free of recurrences four hours after starting the vitamin, and the other eight were able to inhibit the infection by taking several grams of vitamin C at the first appearance of symptoms. It also works when applied to the affected area as a solution, and it appears to be equally helpful in treating herpes zoster.
Vitamin E also appears to be beneficial. The vitamin can be used to treat the involved area by direct application. The usual method is to squeeze a vitamin E liquid capsule onto a cotton roll in order to apply it. In one study, 50 patients with herpes simplex applied the vitamin every four hours. All had prompt and lasting relief with unusually rapid healing.
Zinc inhibits the herpes simplex virus, and it also appears to be effective when applied directly. In a pilot study of 200 patients, a solution of 0.25 percent zinc sulfate in camphor water was applied starting within 24 hours of the appearance of blisters. With applications every 30 to 60 minutes, the itching, burning, stinging and pain disappeared within two to three hours in most cases. The applications were continued hourly, and the lesions cleared up within three to six days. (Women with vaginal herpes used a 0.25 percent zinc sulfate solution as a douche.)
Probably the most popular nutritional approach to herpes simplex is the use of the amino acid L-lysine. The goal of lysine therapy is to suppress the amino acid arginine, as arginine is needed by the virus. The usual regimen is one gram three times daily between meals until the blisters are healed; then 500 milligrams daily to prevent recurrences. One caution: Since lysine may stimulate the liver to manufacture more cholesterol, chronic use should be monitored by a physician.
Peanuts and chocolate have a particularly high ratio of arginine to lysine, so by avoiding them you can also suppress arginine.