Shingles is painful and impacts 1-in-3 Americans annually, or 1 million cases per year on average. The condition, also called herpes zoster, is a skin condition that often starts with a painful rash. As shingles progresses, blisters will often form in a stripe and can remain painful, even when the rash is gone. People often feel fatigued, a burning sensation, and itching. The blisters are filled with fluid and will often break open and crust over. Reducing pain is a top priority, and many sufferers will try to find a natural remedy for shingles before seeking traditional treatments. Typically, a doctor will prescribe an antiviral and/or an NSAID to alleviate pain. If you’re suffering from pain, the following supplements may offer shingles pain relief.
Top 10 Supplements Acting as a Natural Remedy for Shingles
Cayenne can be ingested in food and is a good starting point for pain. The spice can be added to any dish and offers immense medicinal properties due to one powerful compound (capsaicin). Multiple studies have been done on the compound’s ability to relieve pain.
Many of the studies include topical application, but there are some that also demonstrate pain relief when ingested.
The compound has been shown to help with:
- Nerve pain
One study injected the substance into the participant’s skin, demonstrating its ability to reduce pain. Supplementation allows users to consume larger dosages of cayenne than they would traditionally in their food. The supplement is known for relieving a variety of pains and also can help with inflammation and swelling.
2. Colloidal silver
Colloidal silver is one of the most popular natural remedies used by herbalists around the world. People take this natural antibiotic that has been long used as a treatment for shingles. You can take Colloidal silver orally, or it can be applied topically as desired.
There's a lack of clinical studies to show why this supplement is so effective, but there are ample testimonials and reviews providing anecdotal evidence that this supplement is effective.
Medical books dating back to 1917 mention that Colloidal silver is effective at treating shingles. It's believed that the supplement is able to penetrate the virus and force it to go back to a dormant state by consuming small amounts daily.
It's believed that the silver penetrates the virus making it unable to replicate.
A popular herb and supplement, echinacea is known to help support the immune system. The supplement provides support while also acting as an antiviral. There's some evidence that echinacea is a prominent antiviral against the herpes virus and was able to reduce:
Again, echinacea lacks direct studies relating to the supplement’s ability to treat shingles. Users claim that echinacea helped them recover from shingles faster with the theory that the immune system boost was key in their fast recovery.
4. Essential fatty acids
Essential fatty acids are known for promoting nerve tissue healing and skin healing. The University Pain Medication Canter recommends omega-3 fatty acids to help assist in decreasing inflammation and reducing pain.
Non-shingles studies have shown that these fatty acids are able to help with neuropathic pain.
Additional studies are required to determine how effective fatty acids are in helping with shingles pain. Since most diets lack these fatty acids, it’s often recommended that you either add salmon or other fish to your diet or find a supplement that you don’t mind taking.
Probiotics are shown to increase immune system function and also help increase the beneficial bacteria in the gut. The beneficial bacteria help reduce bouts of sickness. A lot of people take probiotic supplements to boost their immune health.
While no direct studies have been done on shingles and probiotics, you’ll find a lot of people adding it to their daily supplement stack.
If you take probiotics before your rash and shingles present, you can boost your immune system and speed up your body’s natural healing process.
6. Valerian root
Valerian root is one supplement that can help you get a better night of sleep even if you have shingles. Take your supplement before bed to sleep better and calm your nervous system. The root is also shown to reduce anxiety while also lowering psychological stress.
When taken orally, often as a tea, valerian root can help provide mild pain relief and reduce inflammation.
Flavonoid compounds in the plant are responsible for valerian root’s natural pain-relieving properties. Side effects are mild but often include headache and upset stomach.
7. Vitamin B12
B vitamins are known for helping benefit the immune system, nervous system, and improve brain function. Vitamin B12 has also been shown to improve quality of life while also being a potent pain reliever for certain conditions.
A meta-analysis of B12 studies determined that this supplement was able to significantly lower pain when compared to the placebo group.
The four trials included 383 participants and resulted in fewer of the participants taking analgesics for their pain. Dosage amounts were not mentioned in the analysis, but the typical dosage is 1000 mcg. However, some doctors recommend even higher dosage amounts.
8. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is found in citrus fruits and other foods. Supplementation is common, with users able to consume high amounts with little-to-no side effects. The antioxidative substance is known to support the immune system and increase the body’s ability to heal.
When suffering from viral infections, vitamin C levels are naturally depleted, so supplementation can help the body fight back against infection.
Studies show that low levels of this vitamin in the body can lead to an increased risk of post-shingles pain. The nerve pain that persists when the rash is gone is considered the worst pain. Vitamin C supplements help boost vitamin levels in the bloodstream and lower the risk of nerve pain while increasing healing speeds.
9. Vitamin E
Vitamin E is commonly known to help increase skin healing and prevents scar tissue from forming. Doctors have recommended that patients apply Vitamin E to their skin or supplement with it when suffering from post-herpetic neuralgia pain.
Dose amounts will vary from supplement to supplement.
Numerous studies included 1,200 to 1,600 IU of vitamin E daily. Pain relief or control was exhibited in a small study that included 13 participants that had shingles. Two of the participants only noted moderate pain improvements.
Safe and effective, vitamin E is one of the vitamins that are easy to supplement without concerns of significant side effects.
Zinc helps support the immune system and acts as an antiviral. Daily intake is said to reduce the severity and duration of shingles. When taken in 50mg to 100mg doses per day, the supplement is able to improve the efficiency of T cells in the body.
There is some evidence that taking zinc lozenges may be even more effective than taking a typical supplement.
Pain and tingling, two of the most common side effects of shingles, were stopped when using 4% zinc sulfate and water. Zinc also assists with the body’s natural vitamin A usage.
DMSO has been used topically to help relieve the symptoms of DMSO pain. Although its not a "supplement" the benefits DMSO provides are too good to leave out!
A study conducted in 1981 continued the examination of the impact of 5% IDU in DMSO on 46 patients that were split into two groups. Of the two groups one received just DMSO. Treatment started within the initial 48-hour period from when the rash was found.
The IDU group noted:
- Significantly shorter period of pain
- Fewer vesicles on the third-day follow-up
The study was one of the most promising and helpful of its time. Researchers showed that the combination of IDU and DMSO was able to reduce pain and the severity of shingles.
There have been many additional studies on the benefits of using DMSO for shingles. The combination of these studies suggest that DMSO may be a great option for those who are suffering from shingles pain. Learn more about DMSO for shingles here!
Shingles pain relief is possible, and no one supplement provides complete relief, although they can help a lot. When combined with traditional treatment options, you can lower the time it takes for shingles to become dormant.