Chinese Medicine can help recovery from shingles

By NICOLE NOLES, DOM LMT
New Hope Chiropractic

Shingles is the term used to describe a contagious recurrence of the herpes zoster virus that manifests with intense pain and a blistering rash along with flu-like symptoms or malaise. Although it’s more common in people over 50, shingles isn’t a disease for just seniors. Anyone who has had chickenpox has the potential to get shingles when the immune system is compromised.

Both allopathic and Chinese Medicine are important when it comes to treating shingles, but time and quick treatment is of the essence if you want to reduce the severity and length of symptoms.

In Chinese Medicine, shingles is considered a pattern of Toxic Damp Heat. The damp heat is a description of the rash, with the blisters manifesting the “toxic” part of the equation. When a patient present with a “hot” pattern such as shingles, the goal with acupuncture is to pick points to cool down the patient (reduce inflammation), help manage stress (intense pain causes a lot of emotional and physiological stress, and that’s normal) as well as “vent” the rash to help the body clear it out as soon as possible. The other important treatment strategy is to make sure the patient doesn’t add any “heat” by way of food, hot showers, or topicals that make things worse.

My preferred treatment schedule for patients includes a visit to the medical doctor first for confirmation and a prescription, if appropriate, then acupuncture and supplements as soon as possible to help manage the pain and speed healing. This is an excellent example of how allopathic and holistic medicine can work together to help patients feel better quicker. It’s definitely not appropriate to take a “wait and see” approach when it comes to shingles; it’s probably not going to get better by itself quickly if that’s what you’ve got.

My neighbor’s medical degree came from Google University

I guarantee that if you see a licensed medical professional, allopathic or holistic, you will not be the first shingles case to walk through their door. Your medical professional will give you advice and prescriptions that have worked for many people before you and are backed by science and experience. Many patients have questions and concerns about new prescriptions, and that’s normal. If you have pre-existing conditions, remind your doctor, and ask your questions before you leave, so that you feel confident about taking your meds or supplements as they are prescribed.

When you feel sick or have severe pain, it’s normal to look for relief from any source once you leave the doctor’s office, but many times, the information you get from Google, a “wellness” coach, or your neighbors can be conflicting or aggravate your condition. Trust your health professionals and try to resist the urge to lather yourself with a dozen different “natural” things that “worked for someone on this one online forum I found at 2 a.m.” Natural doesn’t always mean better, especially if you don’t have experience with that remedy. Save your experimentation for the kitchen.

On the other hand, there’s nothing wrong with researching your condition. Many of my patients like to surf the web for info, and I recommend searching whatever issue you have with the additional terms of “clinical trials” or “scientific studies.” A PubMed study, “Comparison of therapeutic effects of different types of acupuncture interventions on herpes zoster in acute stage,” (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23342782) found that with acupuncture there was significant pain relief starting about the seventh day verses medicine alone. Another study (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22043678) found that acupuncture, added to other traditional Asian forms of treatment like cupping, increased effectiveness.

Tips for getting through shingles:

  • If you have severe pain that lasts more than a day and you don’t remember injuring yourself or “overdoing” it, make an appointment with your doctor. If you see any signs of rash, see a doctor that day. If your doctor gives you a script, fill it and start taking it as directed right away. Make sure they also know about any other medications or over the counter remedies your take.
  • Do stay well hydrated.
  • Avoid spicy and fried foods. In Chinese Medicine, adding “hot” foods to a “hot” condition makes things worse and prolongs healing.
  • Eat a few extra servings of cooling foods like watermelon, iceberg lettuce and cucumber. Ice cream does not count! Try fruit-based popsicles instead.
  • Take tepid or cool showers.
  • Wash your sheets, towels, etc. with hot water and bleach, especially if your blisters oozed or burst.
  • Ask your health professional what topical products and supplements they recommend for you. Do not apply essential oils to an active rash.
  • Do follow your doctor’s advice. Do not reinvent your treatment plan, change your dosage, or skip your meds. You know your body best, but your health professional team knows what works best for most people.
  • Do not scratch your rash or pop the blisters.
  • Wash your hands often.
  • Try to manage your stress and rest often.
  • If you have a chiropractor on your health care team, get an adjustment, if appropriate.
  • Do NOT get a massage.

Shingles is an unfortunate complication of a disease you probably forgot all about, but your health care team can help you find relief.

Nicole Noles Collins is a licensed acupuncture physician and massage therapist in Florida. Nicole has two bachelor’s degrees – Alternative Medicine and Professional Health Sciences – as well as a master’s degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine. She has a passion for both writing and natural health. Please visit her website at www.pcacupuncture.abmp.com and like her Facebook page at Vitalichi Acupuncture.

Classical Homeopathy – the interview of a lifetime

Homeopathic bottles and PillsMany people go to the health food store or online to get homeopathic remedies for their issues. These people are generally picking a remedy based on their acute or chronic physical issues, maybe even an emotional issue now and then. Homeopathy can work well for those kinds of issues. I’ve seen it happen in my own family. But there is a different side of homeopathy that many people may not realize exists – the constitutional side of prescribing homeopathics. This is where the skills of a trained and licensed homeopath really shine.

Constitutional prescribing in homeopathy treats the whole person – body, mind and spirit, much as Traditional Chinese Medicine does, but on an even deeper and more profound level. The theory is that each person, as a unique individual, expresses disharmony as a unique set of symptoms and disease. This disharmony also manifests as unusual dreams, likes or dislikes, delusions or themes. So when a homeopath interviews a person for a constitutional remedy, he or she will ask a broad range of questions including physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aspects. This process usually takes at least an hour, and is essential in determining the essence of a person, and therefore, prescribing an accurate remedy. A homeopathic interview is a much more skilled and demanding art than most people realize, requiring knowledge not only of the remedies, but also the skill of gentle but persistent questioning that will create an accurate picture of the individual and their issues.

Homeopathy does not promise to fix all your physical or emotional problems, but it can help reduce them, resolve them or help you find new ways to cope with them. Think of it as unlocking your DNA. Like your brain, most of our DNA is not actually in daily use. There is a lot of information there just waiting to be accessed. One of the emerging theories is that homeopathy can unwind unused parts of your DNA so your body has new information to work with to keep you in homeostatic balance on a physical, emotional and spiritual level. Everything you already need to know to heal yourself is already inside you, and homeopathy can help you find it. It’s a more efficient (some might say even evolved) version of you that’s waiting to be expressed. At its most basic, what homeopathy does is instigate change, like the Tao. Our perspective of self is that we never change, but the reality is we are changing every second. We remodel bone, create new cells, digest new things (physically and mentally) and constantly evolve our personality. Our very existence is a constant dance of change – and homeopathy can play a vital part in easing those changes or helping create positive ones.

Nicole Noles Collins is a licensed acupuncture physician and massage therapist at Vitalichi Acupuncture in Port Charlotte, Florida. Nicole has two bachelor’s degrees – Alternative Medicine and Professional Health Sciences – as well as a master’s degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine. She has a passion for both writing and natural health. Please visit her website at www.pcacupuncture.abmp.com and like her Facebook page at Vitalichi Acupuncture. For more information, call 941-979-9793.

Arnica and the ER

My second child was a bit of a klutz when he was younger. He saw more of the ER than his big sister did, that’s for sure. So when I got a worried call from my mom while I was driving to school several years ago, I wasn’t surprised. The sidewalk had been slick with rain, and my little guy slipped on his way to the front door and had hit the concrete wall of the house – with his face. Mom said he had a nice bump on his forehead, she was icing it, and what did I want to her do? I told her to go ahead and take him to the ER just to be safe.

I was a good 45 minutes away, but I got back to town, stopped at the house to grab my arnica and met her there. By then, the bump was the size of a healthy golf ball – ouch! I gave him a dose of arnica 30C while waiting for the doc. He checked out my son for signs of concussion and he was fine, although he said the bump may hang on for a few days and to keep icing it. In the meantime, did I want him to remove the popcorn kernel from my son’s ear? (Sure, since we’re here…)

Eventually, we made it home sans popcorn and I dosed him again with arnica before bed. The next morning, I anxiously checked out my little man. No bump. I looked closer. There was the faintest of green tinges where the bump had been last night.

There’s a reason why Arnica is essential for every homeopathic first aid kit, and this is it. It not only helps with muscle aches and bruises, but its keynote (its signature and what it’s best known for) is head trauma. I was certainly a believer. Although it’s not a good idea to store homeopathic remedies in a car (especially in hot climates) or by electronic items, it’s a must-have remedy for your home first-aid kit. It’s the one remedy I fall back on and replace the most.

Nicole Noles Collins is a licensed acupuncture physician and massage therapist at Vitalichi Acupuncture in Port Charlotte, Florida. Nicole has two bachelor’s degrees – Alternative Medicine and Professional Health Sciences – as well as a master’s degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine. She has a passion for both writing and natural health. Please visit her website at www.pcacupuncture.abmp.com and like her Facebook page at Vitalichi Acupuncture. For more information, call 941-979-9793.