Exit

Health Condition

Shingles and Postherpetic Neuralgia

  • Adenosine Monophosphate

    Adenosine monophosphate has been found to speed healing, reduce the duration of pain of shingles, and prevent the development of postherpetic neuralgia.

    Dose:

    Refer to label instructions
    Adenosine Monophosphate
    ×

    Adenosine monophosphate (AMP), a compound that occurs naturally in the body, has been found to be effective against shingles outbreaks. In one double-blind trial, people with an outbreak of shingles were given injections of either 100 mg of AMP or placebo three times a week for four weeks. Compared with the placebo, AMP promoted faster healing and reduced the duration of pain of the shingles.1 In addition, AMP appeared to prevent the development of postherpetic neuralgia.2,3

  • Licorice

    Licorice has been used as a topical treatment for shingles and postherpetic neuralgia.

    Dose:

    Refer to label instructions
    Licorice
    ×
     

    Licorice has been used by doctors as a topical agent for shingles and postherpetic neuralgia; however, no clinical trials support its use for this purpose. Glycyrrhizin, one of the active components of licorice, has been shown to block the replication of Varicella zoster.4 Licorice gel is usually applied three or more times per day. Licorice gel is not widely available but may be obtained through a doctor who practices herbal medicine.

  • Lysine

    Because shingles is caused by a herpes virus, some doctors believe that lysine could help, since it inhibits replication of herpes simplex, a related virus.

    Dose:

    Refer to label instructions
    Lysine
    ×
     

    Because shingles is caused by a herpes virus, some doctors believe that lysine supplementation could help people with the condition, since lysine inhibits replication of herpes simplex, a related virus. However, lysine has not been shown to inhibit Varicella zoster, nor has it been shown to provide any benefit for people with shingles outbreaks. Therefore, its use in this condition remains speculative.

  • Vitamin B12

    Vitamin B12 injections may relieve the symptoms of postherpetic neuralgia.

    Dose:

    Refer to label instructions
    Vitamin B12
    ×
     

    Some doctors have observed that injections of vitamin B12 appear to relieve the symptoms of postherpetic neuralgia.5,6 However, since these studies did not include a control group, the possibility of a placebo effect cannot be ruled out. Oral vitamin B12 supplements have not been tested, but they are not likely to be effective against postherpetic neuralgia.

  • Vitamin E

    Some doctors have found vitamin E supplements to be effective for people with postherpetic neuralgia. Vitamin E oil can also be applied to the skin.

    Dose:

    Refer to label instructions
    Vitamin E
    ×
     

    Some doctors have found vitamin E to be effective for people with postherpetic neuralgia—even those who have had the problem for many years.7,8 The recommended amount of vitamin E by mouth is 1,200–1,600 IU per day. In addition, vitamin E oil (30 IU per gram) can be applied to the skin. Several months of continuous vitamin E use may be needed in order to see an improvement. Not all studies have found a beneficial effect of vitamin E;8 however, in the study that produced negative results, vitamin E may not have been used for a long enough period of time.

  • Wood Betony

    Wood betony is a traditional remedy for various types of nerve pain and may be helpful for postherpetic neuralgia.

    Dose:

    Refer to label instructions
    Wood Betony
    ×
     

    Wood betony(Stachys betonica) is a traditional remedy for various types of nerve pain. It has not been studied specifically as a remedy for postherpetic neuralgia.

What Are Star Ratings
×
Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.
Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.
For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.

Holistic Options

Acupuncture may be helpful in some cases of shingles and postherpetic neuralgia. Anecdotal case reports of people treated with electroacupuncture (acupuncture with applied electrical current) described improvement in seven of eight people.9 A controlled trial, however, found no difference in response between acupuncture treatment and placebo.10 The authors of this trial reported some difficulty in evaluating the results due to difficulty in assessing measures of pain in this study group. Large, controlled trials using well-designed pain evaluation methods are still needed to determine the value of acupuncture in the treatment of shingles and postherpetic neuralgia.

Hypnosis has improved or cured some cases of postherpetic neuralgia, as well as the acute pain of shingles.11

References

1. Bernstein JE, Korman NJ, Bickers DR, et al. Topical capsaicin treatment of chronic postherpetic neuralgia. J Am Acad Dermatol 1989;21:265-70.

2. Sklar SH, Blue WT, Alexander EJ, et al. Herpes zoster. The treatment and prevention of neuralgia with adenosine monophosphate. JAMA 1985;253:1427-30.

3. Sklar SH, Wigand JS. Herpes zoster. Br J Dermatol 1981;104:351-2.

4. Baba M, Shigeta S. Antiviral activity of glycyrrhizin against varicella-zoster virus in vitro. Antivir Res 1987;7:99-107.

5. Schiller F. Herpes zoster: review, with preliminary report on new method for treatment of postherpetic neuralgia. J Am Geriatr Soc 1954;2:726-35.

6. Heyblon R. Vitamin B12 in herpes zoster. JAMA 1951;146:1338 (abstract).

7. Ayres S Jr, Mihan R. Post-herpes zoster neuralgia: response to vitamin E therapy. Arch Dermatol 1973;108:855-66.

8. Ayres S Jr, Mihan R. Post-herpes zoster neuralgia: response to vitamin E therapy. Arch Dermatol 1975;111:396.

9. Coghlan CJ. Herpes zoster treated by acupuncture. Cent Afr J Med 1992;38:466-7.

10. Lewith GT, Field J, Machin D. Acupuncture compared with placebo in post-herpetic pain. Pain 1983;17:361-8.

11. Shenefelt PD. Hypnosis in dermatology. Arch Dermatol 2000;136:393-9.

12. Irwin M, Costlow C, Williams H, et al. Cellular immunity to varicella-zoster virus in patients with major depression. J Infect Dis 1998;178 (Suppl 1):S104-8.

13. Engberg IB, Grondahl GB, Thibom K. Patients' experiences of herpes zoster and postherpetic neuralgia. J Adv Nurs 1995;21:427-33.

14. Schmader K, George LK, Burchett BM, Pieper CF. Racial and psychosocial risk factors for herpes zoster in the elderly. J Infect Dis 1998;178 (Suppl 1):S67-70.

15. Schmader K, Studenski S, MacMillan J, et al. Are stressful life events risk factors for herpes zoster? J Am Geriatr Soc 1990;38:1188-94.

16. Gupta MA, Gupta AK. Herpes zoster in the medically healthy child and covert severe child abuse. Cutis 2000;66:221-3.

Copyright © 2019 Healthnotes, Inc. All rights reserved. www.healthnotes.com

Learn more about Healthnotes, the company.

The information presented by Healthnotes is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires December 2019.