By Cammy Benton, MD, ABIHM, Benton Integrative Medicine

Shingles is the terrifying disease of older folks due to pain and is occurring in younger people now. They do have a shingles shot but since I have had two patients hospitalized due to complications of the vaccine, and several more with shingles after the vaccine, I have shied away from that and treated it instead with the standard Valtrex and/or steroids. Anything to prevent that painful syndrome called Postherpetic Neuralgia, right? I have had patients suffer for years from pain in spite of that treatment. Wasn’t there anything better?

While under a lot of stress a few years ago, I got a burning, icy cold pain on the right side of my scalp suddenly at lunch. I had painful shingles and I was only 41! My naturopath recommended an anti-viral vitamin regimen.

I decided, much to the dismay of my colleagues, to go natural. I started my remedies right after work. I felt it diminish but my doctor friends really were worried because that particular location puts you at risk for infection of the cornea. By the next morning, my symptoms were 90% gone. I went to the ophthalmologist who said my cornea was OK. I continued the vitamins for 5 days with no recurrence.

When we went on a family vacation during spring break, I got a sunburn on that part of my head which reactivated the shingles on my scalp. Lucky for me I had all the remedies. Within three hours of that stinging, icy cold, burning pain, my symptoms completely resolved.

Since then, I have been offering this to patients in addition to the Valtrex, always offering both traditional and alternative options. Most opt to do the natural treatment with quick resolution even in the older patients. No failures yet with this even when waiting 2-3 weeks before treatment.

Shingles regimen:

Vitamin C 1000 mg 4-5 times per day (less if diarrhea)

Vitamin D 20,000 IU daily for about a week (some say go much higher)

Vitamin A 15000 IU 3 times per day for 3-5 days

L Lysine 1-2 capsules 4-5 times per day.

As with anything, it does not replace your doctor. Just know there is a risk that if you have shingles on the tip of your nose, forehead, or top of head, that you can have infection in the cornea of your eye and you need to see an eye doctor. Yay vitamins!