Cold sores, genital herpes and shingles are all caused by the herpes virus. Shingles, in particular is the result of a herpes zoster virus infection. All types of herpes infections can result in painful or itchy blisters and sores. Conventional medicine resort to drugs to relieve the symptoms as there is still no cure that has been developed for herpes infection. Alternative and natural treatments have proved superior medical choices that can provide long-lasting relief for the symptoms of herpes infection, especially for herpes zoster.
Acupuncture is one huge part of an ancient medical system known as traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Acupuncturists have been practicing their profession for over five millennia. They believe that inside each living thing exist a vital or life energy known as qi circulating throughout the body via energy vessels known as meridians. This life energy nourishes and energizes the body providing it with the means to develop, thrive and reproduce. When this circulation is blocked due to obstructions in the meridians, the body starts experience illness and pain. One of the reasons for acupuncture is to remove these obstructions from the meridians in order to restore the balance of energy and allow the normal flow of qi once more. Acupuncture does not really treat and heal conditions, it is the body itself that does that. Acupuncture facilitates healing by jumpstarting the processes that enables the body to heal and recuperate itself from conditions. In an acupuncture procedure, needles as thin as the hair in your scalp are used by acupuncturists and inserted into certain pre-determined points in the body known as known as acupuncture points. Just underneath these points are the meridians that need to be stimulated to treat a condition. The human body may have over 2000 acupuncture points located all over the skin. From the perspective of western medicine, the insertion of acupuncture needles into the skin stimulates the production and release of neurotransmitters such as endorphins that can help alleviate pain, relieve stress and resolve certain illnesses. One of the illnesses that acupuncture can address is herpes zoster infection.
Herpes zoster is actually chickenpox that has been reactivated inside the body. This reactivation often occurs around the ages of 60 and above. Herpes zoster may be the chickenpox virus reactivated but its symptoms are dissimilar to that of chickenpox. Blisters and sores can arise on the back and the ribcage region usually on one part of the body. Symptoms of severe pain, skin tingling, burning or aching may be felt. Blisters can also develop although they go away after some weeks. The pain, however, may last for years. Both symptoms of chronic and acute herpes zoster can be treated with acupuncture. The duration and magnitude of the pain can be significantly resolved; in fact, some patients have responded extremely well to the treatment that they had a complete cure of their condition. One other benefit of acupuncture is, unlike drugs, this treatment has no adverse side effects whatsoever.
Genital and Oral Herpes
There are still a few studies that have been done to see whether acupuncture can resolve the symptoms of genital and oral herpes. These two types of herpes are quite different from herpes zoster in terms of symptoms. Genital and oral herpes nerve pain is not as long term as that of herpes zoster and in genital and oral herpes, the symptoms may only last a few weeks or so although they usually recur. The few studies done to observe acupuncture’s capacity to treat oral and genital herpes have shown that acupuncture can prevent these conditions from reappearing; acupuncture can also prolong the time of remission between attacks and can prevent the onset of these diseases.
Ni Nan Gilbert is a licensed acupuncturist in Bellmore, NY, practicing acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine and Western medical pathology. She is also the founder of Ni Nan Healing Art Center.