Health conditions

Specialised naturopathic advice straight from Lani about common conditions that affect us all.

Excerpts are taken from the New Zealand best selling book:
Lani Lopez Natural Health An A-Z New Zealand Guide

Publ. Bateman 2005.

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Shingles

Herpes zoster (shingles) is believed to come from the reactivation of the varicella (chicken pox) virus lying dormant in cells of a dorsal root ganglion (section of nerve). Chicken pox can occur at any age, but it's most common in children from 2-8 years old. Therefore shingles in adults may result from the herpes virus waiting to strike from childhood onward. This infection may become active in adult years in the form of shingles sores or blisters and localized pain along the course of the sensory nerves. The shingles lesions often are preceded by three days of fever and burning or irritation of the skin. Herpes zoster symptoms are more likely to occur in people whose immune systems are suppressed.

*This recommendation chapter on Shingles can also be used for genital herpes.

Signs and symptoms

  • Pain, tingling & dysaesthesia may precede the re-emergence of the virus into the skin.
  • It then produces characteristic vesicles (blisters), papules or bulbous lesions throughout the dermatone (skin).
  • Secondary infection increases discomfort, and in an elderly person intractable post-herpetic neuralgia may follow an attack of the shingles.
  • Trophic ulcers are sometimes over the face in association with cranial nerve involvement.
  • Trigeminal nerve disease can lead to infection of the eye.

Warning: Patients with shingles may be infective, the virus being spread from fresh skin lesions by direct contact or by airborne transmission. Patients with shingles can be subject to complications, and therefore must be medically monitored.

Lifestyle Hints and Nutrition

  • As a run-down condition can bring on shingles, and the illness itself is extremely weakening, treatment aims to restore health and immune function.
  • Avoid extreme weather changes.

Nutrition

  • Eat fresh fruit and vegetables, thoroughly washed, and boil or steam or eat raw. Choose green leafy vegetables and reduce use of tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant in the diet.
  • Reduce use of all processed foods. Eat foods that are freshly prepared and increase intake of yoghurt.
  • If eating protein reduce as much as possible and eat only organic meats. Protein can encourage herpetic blisters and symptoms. If you do eat protein take the amino acid supplement Lysine to counteract the arginine amino acid found in protein that is linked to cold sore activation.
  • These foods trigger shingle spread: chicken, eggs, salmon, tuna, bacon, beef, milk, stocks, almonds, peanuts, nuts, chocolate, brown rice, fried foods, corn and possibly foods containing gluten.
  • Apply ice to tingle if you feel a herpetic sore coming on.

Complications: Postherpetic neuralgia

Postherpetic neuralgia is pain in the zone of the previous eruption; it occurs in some 10% of patients (often elderly). It is a burning, continuous pain responding poorly to analgesics. Depression is almost universal. Treatment (orthodox) is unsatisfactory but there is a trend towards gradual recovery in two years.

Orthodox treatment

  • Drying, soothing creams like calamine lotion
  • Antiseptic powders to limit secondary infection
  • Acyclovir orally 5 x daily
  • Prednisolone
  • Herbal topical cream — for those who do not want to use chemicals and wish for a herbal or natural alternative. Try herbal creams with Lysine and lemon balm herb. This may be available from health stores and some pharmacies.
  • Some creams may spread the cold sore blisters. Do try to avoid any creams that have this effect.

Supplements

  • Vitamin C — Provides antioxidant protection against pollution and toxins. Take 1500mg daily.
  • Lysine — an am amino acid that may help reduce blisters and aid healing. Take up to 6 grams daily.
  • Zinc — helps the body fight off a range of viral infections - from strep and influenza to herpes and the common cold. Take 45mg daily.

Herbs

In 1969, Harold E. Renis, PhD., a virologist with The Upjohn Company of the Kalamazoo, Michigan, proved that calcium elenolate from oleuropein in the olive leaf, is a virucidal for all viruses against which it was tested. In particular, Dr. Renis showed that calcium elenolate kills the herpes virus including varicella zoster virus (VZ).

Without treatment viruses can be immortal. Many orthodox treatments are symptomatic but cannot penetrate the viral hosts cell. Getting rid of symptoms related to the viral infection doesn't mean that the virus is eliminated. The virus can remain dormant and break out again when the host's immunity becomes compromised. Once a viral disease has invaded, the wellbeing of the host remains in danger of breaking down once again with the signs and symptoms of the disease.

  • OLE-UP™ with Olive Leaf Extract — has herbal properties that help the immune system support the fight against viruses. Research shows that Olive Leaf Extract with oleuropein can support the body's ability to combat symptoms and ongoing infection. OLE-UP™ - take 3 capsules daily for 5 days then maintain with 1 capsule daily. The best combination is with Lysine (6g daily for 5-10 days).
  • St John's Wort— has antiviral action against cold sores and herpes outbreaks. Take the equivalent of 2-5g of dried root daily.
  • Lemon Balm Melissa officinalis — add 1 handful of leaves to a pot of hot water. Cover with a plate and leave to steep for 15 minutes. You may drink this tincture or add to baths, as a gargle etc. Best to use as a preventative or when the first symptoms are felt or appear.

Pain

Capsaicin — from cayenne, desensitizes nerves. About 10 % of all patients with herpes zoster experience a condition called 'post herpetic neuralgia' about 30 days after herpetic infection. 50% of the cases of herpes zoster, over the age of 60, may develop severe pain. Capsiacin cream is used for postherpetic pain from shingles, phantom limb pain, cluster headaches, neuropathies, osteoarthritis and pain from skin conditions including psoriasis and puritis. Capsaicin may be used to provide pain relief in these cases. In one study 14 patients suffering from post herpetic neuralgia were subjected to topical application of capsicin cream (0.025 %v capsaicin) on painful areas. Should be continued for 4 weeks with a response expected at the end of the four weeks of treatment. Hands must be washed thoroughly to avoid contact within the eyes.

St John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum) — has a specific effect on nerves acting as a mild sedative with a pain reducing effect and is beneficial for mild depression, anxiety and nervousness associated with ongoing chronic pain. Use internally: Take 450mg of extract (as dry extract) from St John's Wort aerial parts (Hypericum perforatum L.) (3-6:1) (equivalent to 1350-2700mg of St John's Wort). This should be available in tablet form from health stores and pharmacies. You can also apply St John's Wort on skin as a tincture, poultice, cream or oil on nerve pain sites.

Cailfornian Poppy — has mild analgesic and sedative properties. It also exhibits a relaxing affect on the mind and potential mood elevating actions without addictive side effects. Adults take 900mg daily.

Jamaican Dogwood — is used for neuralgia, migraines and insomnia due to its anti-inflammatory and sedative effects. Take 2-4g of dried root bark up to three times daily.

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