Don’t be Singing the ShingleBells
By Fred Cheng (R.Ph), Christine Cheng (R.Ph)
“ShingleBells” is definitely not a tune you would want to sing this Christmas, or any other time at all! Fortunately, there are things you can do and natural supplements you can take that can help minimize your risk of getting a shingles outbreak.
Ninety-five percent of Canadians have had chickenpox. In these individuals, the varicella-zoster virus has been “sleeping” in the nerve tissue near the spinal cord and brain. A shingles outbreak happens when this silently sleeping virus is woken up, typically by a stressful physical and/or psychological event. The older we are, the more at-risk we become. One in three Canadians will develop shingles in their lifetime. This is quite alarming, because 10-25% of all cases can have lasting effects on the eye, and most outbreaks involve excruciating nerve pain, severe rash development, and is often associated with skin infections and scarring. Longer term effects include depression, anxiety, and overall loss of independence and quality of life.
Preventing shingles is key. The best way to prevent a viral outbreak of any sort is to get a vaccine for it. The only vaccine indicated for prevention of shingles in ages *50* and up is ZOSTAVAX II. It is a single injection under the skin that can be done at CLOVERDALE PHARMASAVE without an appointment and without a prescription (call us for details). Some people still get an outbreak after having had the shot, but the severity and duration is drastically reduced. Protection lasts for 7 or more years.
Since stress is a major trigger for many shingles cases, it is logical for us to reduce stress if we want to minimize the risk of a shingles outbreak. To start, make the most of reducing the actual and perceived stress in your life, be it work, family, or friends. If needed, CORTISOL MANAGER (by Integrative Therapeautics) is a natural combination of 4 herbals that help regulate cortisol levels and manage stress. RESCUE REMEDY (by Bach Flower Remedies) is a homeopathic formulation that we have seen years of success with in managing stress and anxiety. We always stock a few liquid formulations and lozenges for people and even have an alcohol-free version for pets. Rescue Remedy is safe to use in combination with herbal and prescription drugs.
Early detection and treatment are crucial to minimizing the duration and severity of an actual shingles outbreak. Your doctor can prescribe antiviral medications and creams. Natural L-LYSINE (by New Roots Herbal) is theorized to minimize the duration of an attack by preventing viral replication. At CLOVERDALE PHARMASAVE, we custom-make (ie. “compound”) special prescription and non-prescription PAIN-GELS. Refer to our previous Today’s Senior article titled “Achy Breaky Body” for an introduction to our pain-gels and how they can be used in all sorts of pain-management scenarios ranging from shingles, to arthritis, to sciatica, to regional pain syndrome, etc. The article is available online at www.CloverdalePharmasave.com .
A shingles outbreak could ruin your Holidays, with months of recovery to endure. Manage your stress levels any way you can, and check with your doctor and pharmacist about getting a Zostavax II shot in order to prevent singing the ShingleBell Blues.
Christine and Fred Cheng are a passionate, charismatic sister-brother pharmacist team at their unique family-owned and operated Pharmasave in Cloverdale, BC. They specialize in natural remedies and
compounding for both human and veterinarian use. Of course, before you begin any activity program or try any OTC supplementation, check with your physician and pharmacist.