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 the patient had previously been infected with, usually as a child.

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 produces a different type of rash that erupts on the skin in the region of the infected nerve. Blistering, inflammation, pus formation and usually, severe pain follows.

The rash is usually 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 can cause blindness.


Standard medical treatment is antiviral medication such as acyclovir, 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 lead to worsening of the patient's overall condition.  By comparison, wheatgrass extract applied to the affected area is safe (it can even be used orally), and usually works well.

The two patients shown below both responded well to wheatgrass extract being applied three times a day, however, experience now requires it to be applied on alternate days or less. It can do well healing the rash and relieving pain.

Herpes Zoster (Shingles). Case #1

herpes zoster pre wheatgrass treatment
Day 4. Pre-wheatgrass. Note marked inflammation & pus-filled areas.
wheatgrass stops shingles pain
2 days wheatgrass. marked reduction of inflammation & pain. Pus-filled areas absent.

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 for one week. Wheatgrass commenced three times daily. .
shingles cured by wheatgrass
16 days later, lesions almost disappeared & patient pain-free.

A lesson learned.

I recall in my pre-wheatgrass days, when the CEO of a large company presented with a "saddle shaped" rash of herpes zoster on his chest wall. Unaware of wheatgrass use for this condition at the time, I prescribed acyclovir, a recognised pharmaceutical immunosuppressant, anti-viral agent. The medication worked well on the rash, but the severe oral infection and pain that resulted from the medication (due most likely to immune suppression) required hospital admission and 4 weeks off work.

To me, there had to be a better way and wheatgrass extract later proved there was.

But why do pharmaceutical companies produce these drugs when the outcome can often be worse than the disease itself? After all, this unfortunate patient suffered a potentially life-threatening complication that could have been avoided had I known about wheatgrass. This simple herb has worked well in every case I have treated so far. It is also much cheaper than anti-viral drugs, and there are no side effects to worry about.

Dr. Chris Reynolds.

>> Return to Cases & Conditions