Self help with herpes (shingles, cold sores etc)
Shingles is a right pain.
I should know.
I'm suffering right now as I type this!
I had chicken pox over fifty years ago as a child, and have never suffered since with any form of herpes - not even a single cold sore.
So I was completely bemused when I found a couple of burn like marks on my chest, which hurt like hell. I thought maybe my bra had been rubbing, though the same one had not done so previously, even in hot weather.
At the same time I was experiencing strange stabbing nerve pain in my chest, specifically under the left breast area.
This had been going on for a couple of weeks and I was worried it was angina. But the pain was worse at night, not after exercise, so I dismissed the idea and put it down to muscle tension - massage helped a little.
Then last week strange looking red spots appeared on my left shoulder blade. They were becoming quite painful to touch, so I guessed something was amiss, but couldn't quite understand what.
Suddenly I had a road to Damascus experience and the scales fell from my eyes - SHINGLES!
How could I have been so stupid, so blind to the truth?
Clearly I was - still am - suffering from a nasty bout of herpes zoster, the medical name for shingles.
I checked it out on the internet, and sure enough, it was as clear as a moonlit night, I had classic signs - a red, intensely itchy, lumpy, burning rash on the back with agonising nerve pain which I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy.
Sometimes you can experience a fever and feelings of general malaise, but I had not had either of those so was completely off my guard.
I rang the emergency out of hours doctor for advice.
She was kind, but clearly I was on my own with this. So I set about researching the subject; in particular I wanted to know why I contracted shingles.
I know it is because the dormant herpes virus suddenly becomes reactivated. Apparently you are more susceptible if you are elderly, have a weakened immune system, suffer from cancer or HIV, but none of those things applied to me.
Then I stumbled across a potentially vital piece of information -
Yep, you read it right.
No, I'm not going nuts (although sometimes I feel I am at 3am and in agony).
Apparently nuts contain very high levels of a substance called 'Arginine', which in laboratory tests has been shown to reactivate the herpes virus.
And I'd been eating handfuls of them. Everyday. For months and months.
Nuts are not the only culprit. Chocolate is also high in arginine. And I'd been eating that too.
Oats also contain a small amount, but as they are usually eaten with milk, this is not so bad, as milk counteracts the effects.
Chocolate coated nuts are particularly bad. Aaarrggh! I luv 'em! Particularly chocolate brazils. I'm drooling at the very thought. But that's it, no more nuts and no more chocolate. I can't go through this again, ever.
Stupid, ignorant me. If only I'd realised sooner.
If you are particularly prone to herpes attacks then even a relatively small amount of nuts and chocolate can precipitate an outbreak.
However it is important to say that not everyone will contract shingles or a cold sore after eating foods containg arginine. Much depends on your individual bio chemistry.
So if you aren't prone to herpes outbreaks then don't worry. Carry on eating the nuts, but don't binge like I did, just in case.
But wait! That's not the end of the story. The best is yet to come, so it's not all doom and gloom for all you nut lovers and chocoholics out there!
There may be an 'antidote' and it comes in the form of an amino acid called L-Lysine.
Just as arginine has been scientifically proven to cause a herpes outbreak, so L-Lysine has been showed in lab tests to prevent, or stop an attack in its tracks.
As soon as you realise you are going down with a cold sore for example (and I'm sure the telltale tingle will tell you) then head for the L-Lycine. It is readily available from drug stores or on the internet.
Once you have an outbreak
So much for prevention - what about a cure?
Sadly there is no cure for the actual virus. Once you have it in your system it's there for life. Sorry.
But you can mitigate the awful symptoms.
The doctor may prescribe you some cream to help with the burning sensation in the skin. But you can just as easily make your own.
The answer is to fight fire with fire!
Make up some cream by chopping up then pounding red hot chillies (not too many - one should do the trick!) and adding to some body lotion. You can also use cayenne pepper. Apply to the affected area twice a day and persevere for at least 3 weeks.
Not only will this help when you have the outbreak but it will help with nerve pain which is a particularly distressing symptom of shingles.
It will feel hot at first, but don't worry. It is only a sensation - you won't burn yourself and after a while the skin will become accustomed to it.
You can also help yourself by making up a tincture of St John's Wort flowers. St John's Wort contains a chemical called Hypericin which is shown to have anti-viral properties, specifally the herpes virus.
Simply put plenty of the flowers in some vodka and leave for a a week - the liquid will turn red. Take 2 teaspoons twice a day in water.
Melissa, or Lemon Balm, is another herb which is reported to have anti herpetic properties, as do Rosemary, Thyme and Hyssop. You can make a really delicious tea using the leaves from these plants. Go easy on the Hyssop, though. Too much may be toxic!
You can also make a compress using the leaves by soaking them in boiling water and applying to the skin directly on a piece of clean cloth.
I hope I have been of help in some way and would really appreciate some feedback!