Shingles, known medically as the Herpes Zoster, is a form of the same Herpes Zoster virus that causes chickenpox. The first time a person is exposed to the virus, it causes the typical widespread, itchy sores of chickenpox, but the virus never actually goes away. Instead, it lies dormant in the nerve cells and may reactivate years later, causing the intensely painful clusters of skin blisters known as shingles. The risk usually increases with age and with compromised immune systems, with people older than 60 being ten times more likely to get shingles than children under 10.
Shingles itself is not contagious, but the open sores it causes can sometimes transmit the chickenpox virus to young children or people who have never been infected. As with any other virus, Shingles places the body under stress in its attempt to fight off the infection. Therefore, it is wise to consume nutritious whole foods, which will supply your body with everything it needs to fight off the virus, along with home remedies for shingles that can lessen the severity and duration of an outbreak. Below you will find some of the most beneficial foods and supplements for those with shingles.
Because the herpes virus requires Arginine to replicate and surface, it’s thought that foods rich in the amino acid can encourage outbreaks of shingles in some people. Conversely, the amino acid Lysine interferes with the virus’s replication and helps to prevent or reduce shingles outbreaks. So consuming foods with a higher Lysine to Arginine ratio, like Avocados, can be helpful reducing the severity and duration of shingles outbreaks. Avocados are also a rich source of skin-friendly nutrients and fatty acids, which will lower chances of sores scarring. Note: The body needs a balance of these two important amino acids, so to help preserve this balance, only emphasize high Lysine, low Arginine foods for short periods.
Cherries are naturally high in compounds called flavonoids, which have antioxidant effects and can be beneficial for shingles outbreaks. The flavonoid Quercetin, of which cherries are an excellent source, appears to be particularly effective at helping to inhibit the replication of all viruses, including herpes zoster virus. Quercetin is also known to reduce histamine levels thus helping to reduce itchiness and severity of symptoms.
Garlic is a true superfood that has potent antiviral, antibiotic and anti-fungal properties. Applying a slice of raw garlic directly or crushing a clove and mixing with coconut oil and applying to the affected area, as soon as you feel that first ‘tell tale’ tingle, may prevent the shingles from appearing in the first place. Or it can help reduce the severity and duration if they do surface. Using garlic liberally in cooking, in juices, and as a garlic butter spread helps to keep the virus in check and prevent future shingles outbreaks.
Kefir is a fermented drink made from either kefir water grains or kefir milk grains. Kefir acts as a probiotic, helping to enhance and balance healthy gut bacteria. As 70% of the immune system lies in the gut, keeping the immune system strong by supplementing with fermented foods like kefir, will help to suppress the shingles virus. Or even encourage it to remain dormant for longer periods and perhaps even to go into remission:-) Additionally, milk kefir has a high Lysine content, an amino acid known to inhibit the herpes zoster virus.
Oily fish such as salmon has a tri-fold positive effect on the herpes zoster virus. The omega-3 essential fatty acid content is anti-inflammatory and calms and nourishes the skin. It has a high Lysine to Arginine ratio, known to inhibit the herpes zoster virus, and it has large amounts of Zinc. Zinc is an immune booster that will help to prevent shingles and is beneficial for skin repair if an outbreak does occur.
Grass Fed Beef
Grass fed beef is a nutrient dense food, naturally high in Lysine, the amino acid that interferes with the herpes zoster virus and helps to reduce the frequency and severity of shingles outbreaks, as well as speeds healing if an outbreak does occur. Beef is a good source of the mineral Zinc, which supports the immune system and can help prevent symptoms from surfacing. Zinc is also beneficial for skin health, in this case, regeneration and repair or sores.
The amino acid Lysine has been shown to help prevent or reduce herpes outbreaks due to its ability to interfere with the herpes zoster virus replication. Arginine, on the other hand, is needed for replication. So consuming foods with a higher Lysine to Arginine ratio, such as live natural yogurt, can be helpful in preventing or reducing the severity and duration of shingles outbreaks. The probiotic cultures found in live natural yogurt and other fermented foods raise levels of immune-boosting gut bacteria that can help prevent shingles flareups.
Dark Leafy Greens
For optimal skin health and to help avoid scarring following an outbreak of shingles, include plenty of dark leafy greens in your diet. Green leafy vegetables contain a host of skin-loving vitamins, minerals and antioxidants like vitamins C, E and Beta-Carotene, that also support a strong and healthy immune system to keep the herpes zoster virus in check.
Echinacea is an immune enhancing herb with antiviral and antibiotic properties. It has an excellent reputation for helping to ward off viral infections and is well worth supplementing to help prevent a shingles outbreak or speed recovery.
The amino acid Lysine is a popular supplement that is known to suppress the herpes zoster virus due to its ability to interfere with the replication process of the virus’s DNA. It can help to reduce the frequency and severity of outbreaks, as well as speed healing if an outbreak does occur.