Shingles (Herpes zoster)

About herpes zoster – “shingles”

Herpes zoster virus infection (“shingles”) is often a very painful, debilitating condition, and is caused by the same virus that causes chicken pox which the patient was infected with- usually in childhood. The virus remains dormant in one of the nerve roots near the spinal cord and later re-emerges as a different type of rash that erupts on the skin in the area supplied by the infected nerve. Blistering, inflammation, pus formation and quite often, severe pain which can persist for years or even indefinitely follows.

The rash is most often limited to one side of the body and only affects one nerve root, and, although not life-threatening, if the nerve near the eye is affected, blindness can result.


Standard medical treatment is antiviral medication such as acyclovir which can disrupt the life cycle of the virus. However, it can also cause significant, and sometimes serious immune suppression requiring hospital admission. 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 shows it only needs to be applied on alternate days to heal the rash and relieve pain.

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. Case #2

If only I had had wheatgrass extract then!

In my pre-wheatgrass days, 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 and immunosuppressant, anti-viral agent. The medication worked well on the rash, but the severe oral infection and pain that resulted from the medication required hospital admission and 4 weeks off work.

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

But why do pharmaceutical companies promote 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 which has worked well, and quickly, in every case I have treated so far. It is also much cheaper than anti-viral drugs, with no side effects to worry about.

Dr. Chris Reynolds.