Skin: Shingles (Herpes zoster)

About herpes zoster - "shingles"

Herpes zoster virus infection ("shingles") can often be very painful and debilitating. It is caused by the same virus that causes chicken pox (which this patient had previously been infected with), usually in childhood.

The virus remains dormant (inactive) in one of the nerve roots of the spinal cord and later re-emerges at the same level. This time, the virus has produced a different type of rash that has erupted on the skin in the region of the infected nerve. Blistering, inflammation, pus formation and usually, severe pain has followed.

The rash is almost always limited to one side of the body and only affects one nerve root. Although not life-threatening, if the nerve near the eye is affected, this may cause blindness.

Treatment

Standard medical treatment is an antiviral medication such as acyclovir, which is usually prescribed in hospital. This drug can disrupt the life cycle of the virus. Unfortunately, it can also cause significant, and sometimes serious immune suppression which can cause a severe skin rash and even physical illness. By comparison, wheatgrass extract applied to the affected area (on alternate days) is perfectly safe (it can even be used orally), and works well if you persevere.

The two patients below both responded well to application of wheatgrass extract, but experience has shown that the extract should only be applied lightly once every three days. It is important not to overtreat.

Herpes Zoster (Shingles). Case #1

herpes zoster pre wheatgrass treatment
Fig. 1. Pre-wheatgrass treatment. Note marked inflammation & pus-filled areas.
wheatgrass stops shingles pain
After 2 days wheatgrass extract application, note reduced inflammation and elimination of pus-filled blisters. Patient is also pain-free.

This patient had moderate pain on day 4 of his illness, but after using wheatgrass extract, his pain subsided in just 2 days.

Herpes Zoster. Case #2

shingles before wheatgrass applied
Painful shingles present one week. Wheatgrass commenced three times daily. (Experience has since shown that application of the extract should only be applied lightly on altternate days.)
shingles cured by wheatgrass
16 days later, lesions hav almost disappeared & patient is pain-free.

A lesson learned.

I recall in my pre-wheatgrass days, when the CEO of a large company was suffering from a "saddle shaped" rash of herpes zoster on the side of his chest wall. Unaware of wheatgrass being useful for this condition at the time, I prescribed him acyclovir, a widely used pharmaceutical immunosuppressant and anti-viral agent. The medication worked well on the rash, but the severely painful oral infection and pain caused by the medication forced the patient to take 4 weeks off work. It seemed there had to be a better way and, as can be seen in this case, wheatgrass extract did an excellent job.

But why do pharmaceutical companies produce these drugs when the cure becomes worse than the condition? After all, this unfortunate patient suffered a potentially life-threatening complication that could have been avoided had I known about wheatgrass at the time. Since then, this remarkable herbal remedy has worked well in every case I have treated. The treatment is also considerably cheaper than anti-viral drugs, does not require a prescription and there are no negative side effects to worry about.

Dr. Chris Reynolds.

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