Shingles Dos and Don’ts

A Virus?

Have you ever had an outbreak of shingles? Do you know someone who has? This virus is quite debilitating and an outbreak can last for months, so it pays to know something about it in advance if you want to minimize its effects.

Most of us had chicken pox as children. This virus, the herpes zoster, lies dormant in the nerve roots of the body of anyone who has ever had chicken pox. It gets triggered in 1 in 10 adults sometime in their lives.

Usually it’s stress that activates it, and as we know, no one can avoid all stress in their life, it goes with the territory.

So, how would a person recognize it? It starts quietly enough, an itch that comes with its own deep burning sensation. It’s following the nerve pathways, and it will only show up on one side of the body. On the torso it will show up both front and back.
It can be face or neck as well. I don’t know of any other regions involved, but the virus will usually pick only one area.

I had no idea what was going on in the summer of 2000 when the back of my head, the forehead and scalp and finally the face broke out in a strange rash. I thought it was a bad reaction to a tetanus shot I had received earlier in the day.

It worsened minute by minute and on a Sunday morning I called the Urgent Care facility where I had gone for the shot to tell them about the “bad batch” of tetanus vaccine they had. Hah! Lucky for me, they insisted I come in, and quickly explained that what I had was shingles. I had thought only frail, elderly, bedridden folks were its targets.

Here’s the Good News

So, why am I telling you this story? Two very good factors saved me from months of agony.

First, I had been seen right away. There are anti-viral drugs they can give you now which dramatically reduce the severity of pain and other symptoms. The caveat is that you have to start taking them within the first 72 hours of the onset of symptoms. Luckily for me, I had only had symptoms for about 48 hours, safely inside that window. My medicine was called acyclovir, I think, but there may be others. I just remember how I looked forward to each dose, checking my watch…each dose 8 hours apart from the last.

The second stroke of luck was the diet. My colleague, Donna King, knew just which foods feed the virus and which starve it. Within two days, I learned of it and began restricting wheat (white and whole grain), chocolate, nuts and seeds, oats, coconut, soy and a few others.
The foods which starve it have a molecular structure similar to the high arginine foods listed above, but are instead high in the amino acid lysine, which basically kills the virus.
Foods high in lysine are the proteins found in eggs, beef, lamb, pork, dairy, and fish.
My knowledge was enhanced by finding these lists in a book I already had on my shelf. The wonderful teacher Leon Chaitow has written the book Thorson’s Guide to Amino Acids in which he explains all of this in detail. He also encouraged supplementation with the amino acid Lysine itself, with Vitamin C as well. I now know that up to 8 grams of Lysine daily is recommended to shock this virus into submission.


Apparently there are NINE types of herpes viruses, and they all react this way to these amino acids, so if you or someone you know has trouble with oral or genital herpes, this approach will help them as well.

My Case

I count myself among the very lucky. Not only was I started on the anti-viral meds right away, but learning about L-arginine and L-lysine also enabled me to forego any pain medication and also keep on working throughout the worst of it. Some folks go through months of agonizing pain. I was contagious for a few days, however, so anyone who had never had a case of chicken pox could have contracted it from me. The shingles virus itself will not bring out shingles in a person who has had chicken pox. The only vulnerable person is one who never had the childhood outbreak.

I hope this info will help you or the next person you meet who feels a strange kind of pain somewhere on the torso, face, neck or scalp. If not treated when the virus gets near an eye, it can infect the optic nerve and cause blindness or even brain damage in the worst case, so this is a serious condition not to be ignored.

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