Shingles, the common name for herpes zoster, is a viral disease characterised by a painful skin rash with itchy blisters which contain the virus.
Why the infection reappears in some people and not others is not fully understood, but it is suspected that increasing age, stress and lowered immunity may play a role. You cannot catch shingles from another person if you have already had chickenpox. But you can get chickenpox from someone with shingles if you haven’t had chickenpox before.
Conventional treatment involves covering the rash to reduce the risk of transmitting the virus to others, medication for pain relief, and in severe cases, antiviral medication.
Acupuncture for Shingles, Herpes Zoster
A World Health Organization review and analysis of controlled acupuncture clinical trials includes Herpes Zoster as one of the “conditions for which the therapeutic effect of acupuncture has been shown but for which further proof is needed”. Further studies have shown that acupuncture may help relieve symptoms in herpes zoster sufferers by:
- Facilitating and expediting crust formation of the blisters
- Stimulating production of pain relieving substances in the body – endorphins
- Reducing inflammation
- Regulating immunity
- Increasing local circulation and reducing swelling
Treating Shingles, Herpes Zoster
Judy Bowen-Jones Lic Ac BSc Hons Ac MBAcC
World Health Organization 2003. Acupuncture: Review and Analysis on Controlled Clinical Trials http://apps.who.int/medicinedocs/pdf/s4926e/s4926e.pdf
Research Fact Sheets
For more information see the British Acupuncture Council Research Fact Sheet below.