Q. Dear Terry, “What are some ideas to help manage shingles? The medicine the doctor gave me isn’t working and I’m miserable. Please help!”– Karl V., Concord, NH
A. Dear Karl, Shingles is caused by the herpes zoster virus, which is the same virus that is responsible for chicken pox. While most cases of shingles occur in people over 50, anyone who’s had chicken pox can get shingles, even children. The virus can remain dormant – for years or decades – until our immune system is weakened, like after a recent illness.
To keep your immune system functioning optimally so it can naturally defend against viruses, I recommend elderberry. Elderberry works by neutralizing the virus particles so they cannot enter our cells. Additionally, elderberry helps with immune system activation and can assist in controlling the spread of viral infections. Look for an elderberry extract that is standardized to anthocyanins, to help give the immune system an extra boost.
I also think that certain vitamins, minerals, and bioflavonoids work synergistically with elderberry to support the immune system. All of these ingredients have antiviral, antibacterial, or immune-supportive properties.
I would take 2,500 IU of vitamin A (as retinyl acetate), 200 mg of vitamin C (as ascorbic acid), 3,000 IU of vitamin D3 (as cholecalciferol), 15 IU of vitamin E (as d-alpha and mixed tocopherols), 41 mg of calcium (from calcium lactate), 6.7 mg of magnesium (from magnesium citrate), 15 mg of zinc (from zinc bisglycinate chelate), 150 mcg of selenium (as selenium yeast), 50 mg of bioflavonoids from citrus, and 300 mg of elderberry fruit extract that is standardized to at least 12% anthocyanins per day.
I believe you would also benefit greatly by taking a combination of nutrients for nerve health like B vitamins, biotin, alpha lipoic acid, chromium, zinc, and boswellia. B vitamins (B1-B3, B6, B12, folate, and pantothenic acid) help nerves function more effectively, delay damage to nerves, and reduce the frequency and intensity of any pain-related shingles symptoms. Alpha lipoic acid (ALA) can boost levels of glutathione, one of the body’s natural antioxidants, which helps protect delicate nerves from oxidative damage. I would take 25 mg of vitamin B1 (as thiamine HCl), 50 mg of vitamin B1 (as benfotiamine), 25 mg of vitamin B2 (as riboflavin), 10 mg of vitamin B3 (as niacinamide), 30 mg of vitamin B6 (as pyridoxal-5-phosphate), 425 mcg of folate (as 5-methyltetrahydrofolic acid), 500 mcg of vitamin B12 (as methylcobalamin), 1,000 mcg of biotin, 200 mg of pantothenic acid (from D-calcium pantothenate), 10 mg of zinc (from zinc glycinate chelate), 200 mcg of chromium (from chromium nicotinate glycinate chelate), 300 mg of alpha lipoic acid, and 100 mg of boswellia, twice per day.
Additionally, you may also want to consider taking propolis. Propolis is great at fighting bacteria, fungi, and viruses. Make sure to use propolis that is purified to remove inactive resins and beeswax. I would take 200 mg of propolis once or twice per day.
Terry . . . Naturally