Well, this is certainly not a blog post I ever thought I’d be writing. Yes folks, I got the Shingles! (queue that lame Shingles TV commercial), at this very moment I have a nice scabbed over, itchy rash starting at my belly button and going all the way up the left side of my torso. Pretty, huh? Good thing it’s February and I won’t be exposing my stomach any time soon because this is quite attractive.
Exactly two weeks ago, Sunday, I decided to take a trip to emergency care after a rash developed on my torso on Friday morning. I thought I was bit by a spider or I was allergic to something so I kind of thought nothing of it. I even woke up on Saturday and did an 8 mile hike! After the hike I felt exhausted, which is rare for me, and within a couple hours after developed a severely painful stiff neck. Again, thought I just injured myself when hiking or that my backpack was rubbing the wrong way so I drank a couple glasses of wine and called it a night.
I woke up Sunday and the rash had turned into full blown itchy, burning blisters and I basically couldn’t even walk because my neck was so sore and the muscles in my legs were on fire. This is where emergency care comes in. I walked, very slowly, over to Zoom Care, our neighborhood emergency room and the second I lifted my shirt the doctor said “yup, that’s shingles” (Insert a really loud laugh and “NO WAY” from me). She explained this is actually more common in people my age than I think. She sent me off with an anti-viral prescription that I did not fill and I decided now was time to research natural remedies and learn all about the Shingles. Yes, you can now call me Laura Lyons, SE. (Shingles Expert).
So we have all heard the Shingles commercials but do we actually know what it is? I certainly did not and I also certainly did not think someone of my age could get it! Boy was I wrong. To put it simply, Shingles is actually the chicken pox virus, varicella zoster, that lays dormant/ inactive in our nervous systems after an outbreak of chicken pox and for most, if not all of our our lives it will reman that way unless it is reactivated by a weakened immune system. Shingles can also show up in other ways, not just a rash, such as frozen shoulder, chronic pain, Bell’s Palsy (where one side of your face droops), and a burning/ tingling feeling on one side of your body. These symptoms usually follow after you have been sick or a time of stress.
Did you know that 80% of our immune system is in our gut?
So how did I, the queen of health, the queen of digestion, the queen of nutrition and wellness compromise my immune system so much that I got the shingles? Well, I am going to get really REAL with you all right now. I feel like a huge FAILURE.
I always put so much pride in the way that I eat, the fact that I never get sick and how well I take care of my body. I am always helping friends, family and clients heal their guts with success, but then me, the one that is supposed to have this all figured out and have that perfect digestion and immune system gets Shingles.
So how did this happen?
One word: STRESS. Stress is the number one key player in a compromised immune system. We have these awesome memory cells in our body that remember certain viruses that we previously had and therefore work harder at keeping them out of our bodies but at a time of stress these memory cells lose their ability to recognize these invaders. Leading up to that Friday the Shingles arrived I had one of the most stressful months of my life, probably ever. I won’t go into too much detail but it all began when I caught a cold from my husband (keep in mind I never get sick, so this was strange) and of course it had to happen when we were on vacation in Arizona, we had visitors staying in our house for 8 days straight right after our vacation, and on top of that I was working on creating my website, working my normal day to day jobs, and doing some difficult modules for school (funny, we were learning all about the immune system at this time).
I felt it. I knew my stress bucket was overflowing and I still insisted on filling it further. Ironically, I had posted on my instagram page a quote “Listen to your body when it whispers, so you won’t have to hear it scream” that Thursday before the rash. I knew I had too much on my plate, my body had been whispering for awhile but it wasn’t until it really SCREAMED that I decided to listen.
I should mention that by day 5 I was in so much pain. I felt like I had a sunburn all over my stomach and someone was scratching at it all day, every day. I would get jolts of pain that radiated from my belly button up my entire body and the muscle weakness/ fatigue was unreal. I felt like I ran 5 marathons the day prior without that runners high. I couldn’t sleep at night without waking up my husband on the hour every hour to grab me a cold wash cloth to place on the rash.
Getting Shingles has been a huge eye opener for me. It goes to show, you can be drinking all the bone broth, eating all those probiotic rich foods, eating a nourishing balanced diet but if you’re not handling stress well, all that sh** goes out the window. Stress management has never been a strong suit of mine and honestly, I am a pretty chill person most of the time but I think that’s what makes it harder for me handle stressful situations, because I am never in them.
I decided to not take the anti-viral medication that they prescribed me as I knew this was something that would clear up on it’s own and it really was just to lessen symptoms not to mention the consequences of taking pharmaceuticals.
So what am I doing now and how did I heal the Shingles naturally?
For starters, the doctor told me I would have the Shingles for 4 weeks. It is 2 weeks exactly and I am coming to a near end so I would say all my remedies worked!
Light Therapy & Chiropractic Adjustments
During my research I had learned all about chiropractic adjustments and how being properly aligned is absolutely necessary for a healthy nervous system. So I decided to give the chiropractor down the street a call. I had informed her I had the Shingles and it might be best for me to wait to come in until it passed. She told me she actually does light therapy for pain that has helped past patients with Shingles. I told her to sign me up and I went in the following day. OMG am I so glad I did! After just one treatment not only did my rash start to go away but I had almost no pain within an hour after treatment. I scheduled 2 more treatments for the 2 days after and by the third treatment I was healed! I wish this alternative care was talked about more rather than giving out anti-viral prescriptions. Our doctors needs to informed of this miracle therapy!
Instead of the Anti-viral:
(1 in between meals for 1 month)
(2 in the morning, 2 at night, for 1 month)
(2 with every meal, for 2 months)
(5 mg, 2 times a day, with a meal)
(2 in the morning, 2 at night)
Homeopathic Remedies (used during the first week)
Rhus Toxicodendron (5 tablets under the tongue every 3 hours)
Aconitum Napellus 30c (5 tablets under the tongue every 3 hours)
Topical: Calendula Ointment
This was good for immediate relief but only lasted about an hour until the pain came back
And lastly, the hardest for me to work on, stress management.This means recognizing when I am stressed and taking time to get back into a relaxed state. This is hard for me since my personality is stressful, I am very energetic and go go go even when I am “relaxed.”
- I quit the gym. I knew the gym was not serving me for a while now. I went down to a couple days a week but it wasn’t enough. I needed to get rid of it completely and just focus workouts I enjoy.This is the hardest one for me to come to terms with.
- Working out later and in my home gym. I give myself some time to relax, read, stretch or do yoga before I workout. This has made my mornings a lot less stressful. Our bodies change and right now my body no longer wants those 5am workouts.
- Taking breaks throughout the day to just breath. Some deep breathing throughout the day calms our nervous systems and makes us less anxious. I got into a terrible habit of starting work and NEVER taking a break, I would work for 8 hours straight without moving if I could.
- Self care practices such as legs up the wall as a night time routine to calm the nervous system and dry brushing.
- More yoga and less weight lifting
- Thinking about stress differently and using daily mantras
- Taking time to do more things I love regardless of work and school
I hope this post was helpful whether you have Shingles, have had Shingles, or you too need to work on stress management. And don’t think you’re in the clear to not get Shingles, if you have had the chicken pox, that bad boy is just waiting to come out.
Take care of yourself and know that diet is only one piece of the puzzle regardless of your age.