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Shingles – Herpes Zoster – Post Herpetic Neuralgia

Shingles is a condition caused by the varicella-zoster virus – this is the same virus that causes chickenpox. After you have chickenpox, the virus stays in your body. It may not cause problems for many years but as you get older the virus may reactivate this is called shingles. Unlike chickenpox, you can’t catch Herpes zoster from someone who has it. Early signs of Herpes zoster include burning or shooting pain and tingling or itching, usually on one side of the body or face. Fluid filled blisters then form and last from one to 14 days. If shingles appears on your face, it may affect your vision or hearing. The pain of shingles may be mild to severe; last for weeks, months or even years after the blisters have healed.

According to the National Institutes of Health there is no known cure for Herpes zoster. Early treatment with medicines that fight the virus may help. These medicines may also help prevent lingering pain. A vaccine may prevent Herpes zoster or lessen its effects.

RISK OF Herpes zoster: Up to 20 percent of people will develop shingles during their lifetime. The condition only occurs in people who have had chickenpox, although occasionally, chickenpox is mild enough that you may not be aware that you were infected in the past. This link has excellent images and information

Patient information: Shingles (Beyond the Basics) © 2012 UpToDate, Inc.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM): Shingles – Herpes Zoster – Post herpetic neuralgia

Herpes zoster is as a rule diagnosed in TCM as the presence of damp-heat, fire and toxins, accompanied by underlying deficiencies.

Treatment is focused on draining damp-heat, purging fire, eliminating toxins, and strengthening underlying deficiencies.

Herpes zoster generally divided into three types of disorders in TCM:

Liver and Gallbladder Wind Fire:

Abrupt onset, grouping of vesicular eruptions, pain with heat or burning sensation, restlessness, easily angered, thirst, a bitter taste, dry stools (possible constipation). Treatment is aimed at clearing the heat from the liver and gallbladder, cool the blood, and move the Qi and Blood to stop the pain.

Spleen (Channel) Damp-Heat:

Clusters of vesicles or blisters that are filled with dirty looking fluid {(turbid) maybe yellowish} that when broken cause severe pain, erythema (redness of the skin caused by capillary congestion), burning sensation of the skin, restlessness, poor appetite, and loose stools. Treatment is aimed at clearing the damp heat (eliminating the toxins), move the Qi and Blood to stop pain.

Qi and Blood Stagnation:

Formation of a crust over the blisters, the color may be dark red to red purple, there may be hyper pigmentation of the affected area skin, the pain is severe persistent and stabbing in the affected area. Treatment is aimed at Move the Qi and Blood to stop pain, clear or transform toxins, soothe the liver, promote blood circulation, activate the channels and collaterals also to stop pain. This pattern also describes shingles pain in a chronic state long after the initial eruption. This is a sign of severe Qi and Blood stagnation and treatment is the same.


Herpes zoster is best treated in an integrated fashion utilizing acupuncture, herbal medicine, biological regulating medicine (homeopathy), and western pharmaceuticals. Acupuncture and herbal formulas utilizes thousands of years of clinical experiences to treat shingles. It shortens the duration and reduces the severity of illness.


Advanced Modern Chinese Acupuncture Therapy A practical Handbook for Intermediate and Advanced Study By Dr. Gang Lin Yin and Zheng Hua Liu ©2000 New World Press

Patient information: Shingles (Beyond the Basics)© 2012 UpToDate, Inc.

The Treatment of Modern Western Diseases With Chinese Medicine: A Textbook & Clinical Manual by Bob Flaws and Philippe Sionneau , Blue Poppy Press©2001

Clinical Manual of Oriental Medicine. 2nd Edition by Dr. John Chen PharmD

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke National Institutes of Health Shingles Information Page

U.S. National Library of Medicine – Shingles

Acupuncture for Herpes Zoster (Shingles) – Treatment Protocols