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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

4 Remedies for Shingles

Note: This is the third in a series of posts originally published in 1997 on simple remedies, based mainly on food herbs. The first post dealt with sterility and infertility, while the second addressed kidney stones. Today's post provides recipes for dealing with shingles. Topics yet to be covered include migraine headache and colds/flu. If you haven't read the introductory information, it is definitely worth your time.

Shingles (Herpes Zoster). Shingles is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox. It is painful and itchy. Conventional treatment normally involves a combination of antipruritics (e.g., calamine lotion), analgesics, antibiotics, and antiviral drugs. The following are 4 simple remedies that may work, and only one of which contains a toxic drug:

(1) Job’s Tear Soup - Boil 60 g (2 oz) of Job’s tear in water until tender, which would take about an hour. Eat the grains and drink the soup. Do this twice daily for up to a week. This remedy has been reported to be effective in all 50 patients treated, whose pain and lesions disappeared completely from 3 to 7 days.2

(2) Fresh Xiang Ren Zhang (Chinese Prickly Pear; Opuntia dillenii Haw.) - Prepare a mash from the fleshy inner part of the pads (flat stems) and apply it directly to the lesions. Pain will start to subside in 4 hr, and may even disappear after 6 hr. Continue to use this for up to a week, applying fresh cactus mash daily. It is reported to be effective in healing the lesions in 3 to 5 days.[3] I am sorry I have no idea how you can locate a Chinese prickly pear plant in North America other than to give it a try at your local garden center. If any of you horticulturists or botanists have the information, I will pass it along to the rest.

(3) Yunnan Baiyao (White Medicine of Yunnan) - It is a well-known topical hemostatic in China, which is also used internally. During the Second World War, Chinese airmen, as well as the Flying Tigers, used to carry a vial of it for bleeding wounds. Although it used to be beige or light colored, as the name implies, its color now ranges from light brown to brown, depending on where it is produced, due to certain ingredients now no longer readily available. Yunnan Baiyao is readily available throughout China and in many Chinatown herb shops in North America. Try to get the one from the original Yunnan Baiyao Factory. For treating shingles, make a thin paste of the powder with a small amount of white liquor or dry white wine and apply the paste to the lesions, 3 to 5 times daily. At the same time take 0.3 g of the powder, 4 times a day. It is reported that pain is alleviated and healing starts in 1 to 3 days, resulting in complete healing in 3 to 8 days.[4]

(4) Xionghuang (Realgar) Vinegar Paste - Realgar contains mainly arsenic disulfide and is toxic, not to be used internally for extended periods of time. It is an official drug in the Chinese Pharmacopoeia and traditional Chinese medicine often uses it for topical treatment of insect/snake bites and skin parasites. It has been successfully used in treating 82 patients (ages 5 to 72) with shingles.[5] Simply mix realgar powder with an adequate amount of vinegar to form a thin paste and apply it to the lesions, once a day. Do this for several days. Among the 82 patients thus treated, 75 achieved complete healing in 4 days, and the rest in 5 days. Pain disappeared in most patients on day 2, with lesions starting to heal on day 3. No scars were formed after healing.

[3] Z.J. Chai, “Topical Applications of Fresh Xiang Ren Zhang Stem,” Shiyong Zhong Xiyi Jiehe Zazhi, 9(8): 506(1996).
[4] W. Li, “Clinical Applications of Yunnan Baiyao,” Shizhen Guoyao Yanjiu, 8(2): 121(1997);
[5] S.T. Chen and Q.B. Wang, “Topical Treatment of Herpes Zoster with Xionghuang Vinegar Paste,” Shizhen Guoyao Yanjiu, 8(2): 115(1997).

These and more herbal remedies are available from the volumes of Dr. Leung’s newsletter, of the same name as this blog (Leung’s Chinese Herb News). This newsletter was published and sent to subscribers (most were industry-insiders) from 1996 to 2004. The collected works now serve as an excellent reference work, created with Dr. Leung’s frank, honest opinions and down-to-earth communication style.

For more information about Dr. Leung and his writings, visit http://www.earthpower.com/. To order the newsletter containing the remedies mentioned above, visit the bookstore, click “Buy Now” on the newsletter, and select Issue # 8 from the drop down list.

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