Herpes zoster virus or shingles is often a very painful, debilitating condition caused by the same virus that causes chicken pox that the patient was infected with usually in childhood. The virus settles in one of the nerve roots near the spinal cord and remains dormant until, later in life, it re-emerges, causeing a very different type of rash. See pics below. This rash erupts on the skin in the area supplied by the infected nerve causing blistering, inflammation, pus formation and quite often, severe pain which can persist for years or even indefinitely in some patients.
The rash is most commonly limited to one side of the body and only affects one nerve root in most cases. Although not a life-threatening condition, if the nerve near the eye is affected, herpes zoster can cause blindness.
Standard treatment is antiviral medication such as acyclovir which can disrupt the life cycle of the virus. However, it can also cause significant, and sometimes lethal, immune suppression often requiring hospital admission. By comparison, wheatgrass extract application to the affected area is safe (it can be used orally), easily applied and it usually works well.
Note: although the two patients shown below were advised to apply wheatgrass extract three times a day, time and experience has shown that application on alternate days only is preferable and appears to be more effective.
Herpes Zoster (Shingles) Case #1
This patient had moderate pain on day 4 of his illness, but after using wheatgrass extract three times a day, his pain subsided in just 2 days.
Herpes Zoster (Shingles) Case #2
If Only I Had Had Wheatgrass Extract!
In my pre-wheatgrass days, the CEO of a large Japanese company presented with the classic “saddle shaped” rash of herpes zoster on his chest wall.
Unaware of the efficacy of wheatgrass for this condition at the time, I prescribed him acyclovir, a powerful immunosuppressant, anti-viral agent. The medication worked well on the rash, but the severe oral infection and pain that followed as a result of the medication was serious enough to require hospital admission, and he was off work for four weeks.
In a way I felt I had betrayed him and I remember thinking at the time, “There has to be a better way.”
Why do pharmaceutical companies recommend these drugs when the outcome of treatment can often be much worse than the disease itself? Of course, I still prescribe standard medications such as antibiotics and cortico-steroids when there is an obvious need for them, but here was an unfortunate patient with a potentially life-threatening complication that could have been avoided had I known how effective wheatgrass can be in the management of shingles. Now, I would never even consider using antivirals – the potential risk to the patient is too great.
Wheatgrass extract has worked well in every case I have treated so far. It is also a lot cheaper than acyclovir and other anti-viral drugs and there are no adverse side effects to worry about.
Dr. Chris Reynolds.