Shingles and capsaicin

PaulNS(NS zone 6a)June 27, 2005

Hot peppers are not herbs I realize, but this seemed the only appropriate forum for my question.

I always thought shingles were an affliction of the elderly until I got a case of it (or them) the winter before last. No symptoms other than a searing rib pain that lasted months, and still comes on intermittently. A bone scan ruled out cancer.

The one thing I found that worked for the pain was capsaicin (hot pepper) heat rub, the same kind used for arthritis. Unfortunately all brands of it (eg. A535 rub with capsaicin) seem to have been pulled off the shelves here, I suspect because in some people it caused skin irritation, or because it so easy to accidenally transfer the heat to your eye or other delicate parts :).

So, two questions: is capsaicin rub available where you live (just out of curiosity)?

Has anybody tried making a home made capsaicin salve or tincture?

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I'd think you could make your own! I am wondering why you still have the shingles..... Are you particularly stressed out? If so, the BEST thing you could do is figure out how to lower your stress, and like Nike, just DO it!
Anyway, you could mash some hot peppers in oil, Google INFUSION, and infuse the hot peppers into oil and mix some with some melted beeswax and maybe some comfrey and calendula and voila! a capsaicin balm made by YOU.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2005 at 9:39PM
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You could try this recipe, or simply add some cayenne pepper to some talcum powder and sprinkle that on, or add some cayenne to a bland cream such as lanoline or sorbolene. Or you could use any other dried and powdered chilli.

30g cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons dry mustard powder
5cm piece ginger root, or 1 tablespoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
300ml vegetable oil

Place all ingredients in a large jar, shake vigorously. Leave on a sunny windowsill for at least 3 weeks, shaking every couple of days. Use as a rub for muscle aches, cramps, rheumatism, arthritis, to warm cold joints and banish chills.

You could also try drinking about 1 litre (that's a lot!) of Celery juice per day. Very diuretic and detoxing.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2005 at 10:49PM
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CAREFUL with the home-made! It's easy to get too much and blister your skin.

I've seen various ointments here ... check the labels of what is available to you and you might get lucky.

Also check various sports liniments and rubs - one I have used has so much capsaicin that I had to dilute it with baby oil.

Last resort - but preferable to making your own because the % capsaicin is measured - are the vet products from a feed store. You want 0.5 to 1% capsaicin.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2005 at 11:06AM
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Zostrix is a capsaicin ointment sold in drug stores.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2005 at 2:52PM
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1) nope, they're still on the shelves out here- even in the chains.

2)heck, yes- but I've got tough skin, and have to really work at things to give myself a chemical burn...

My dad's had three reoccurrences over the years, which all predated any of the anti-vrial therapies.

the crushed dried red peppers can be steeped in oil (they also sell it like that in gourmet markets if you don't have a week to wait)

hot sauce shops also sell concentrated capsacin, the kind where one drop will cook a pot of chili, and two drops will make it too hot to eat. you could try adding that to a bottle of oil one drop at a time.

I do remember that the last time, the attact was cut short (lasted less than two weeks) because dad got stung by a poor old bumble bee that crawled into his shirt. dad's normally pretty allergic, but the bite looked like a mosquito bite the next day, not a goose-egg. guess the two things cancelled one another out.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2005 at 3:03PM
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Capsicum is also considered a herb.
Its the source of cayenne pepper which is said to lower cholesterol,and cures hemeroids.
Its also said to magnify the actions of other herbs.
Its the source of pepper spray used by the Police,and it can and has blinded people.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2005 at 9:26PM
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PaulNS(NS zone 6a)

Thanks for recipes, advice, experiences, explanations... This is a great forum.

chinacat, I've heard of similar reactions to bee stings in people with MS - and of some who use bee stings to counteract MS symptoms.

I am chronically stressed and need to figure out healthy ways to beat it... I am puzzled as to why my doctor didn't recommend capsaicin - instead she gave me a prescription for an expensive (and useless) painkiller. Will check the pharmacy for Zostrix after this long weekend.

The benefit of using store bought as lazygardens mentioned is that the capsaicin is standardized. I notice Zostrix is .025% capsaicin while the a535 rub is .05. In a home made salve the content would be hard to predict, and given the risk of burning... but I'll give it a try.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2005 at 3:02PM
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Yeah, stress kills.... I had to do the same.... but for me, it was FAIRLY easy... not completely, but fairly easy.... I am not sure, but it might be why I am still healthy to this day.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2005 at 3:40PM
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PaulNS(NS zone 6a)

So, Heathen..............tell us how you did it

    Bookmark   July 2, 2005 at 9:50PM
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Well, my way is probably NOT the way you want to do it... I was bedridden for 2 years, and I had PuhLENTY of time to figure out what is REALLY important in life.... Then, because I was bedridden, I got stuck on Social Security. So, then, on a severely reduced income, I decided that I'd better learn to be happy with SMALL things... and to be happy with what I have..... and that is a very important thing. I am a completely different person than I was 10 years ago... and MUCH happier and MUCH more relaxed and MUCH healthier! :o) When my truck got stolen... and being on SS, I can't buy another... I learned that this was a signal that I needed to get more bicycling exercise.
You know, I had two friends when I was much younger, one had chronic pain from bone deterioration and the other one looked like a thalidamide baby.... she had a hard time. The friend with the chronic pain was not only in pain, but had decided that he was angry at the world for this particular problem that he had... the other, the woman born without limbs as we'd recognise them was one of the happiest people I know... she was content with what she had and who she was... I tell ya, she had WAY more friends and a MUCH happier life than the other....
So, and like I said, I don't know your situation, and My situation is not like yours, but REALLY... you don't need to make a six figure income to be happy... You don't... you don't need to drive an SUV or whatever to be happy...
I am not saying that you need to be a Buddhist monk to be happy.... but JEEZ I have been to very poor countries, where people have nothing and they are, as a whole, MUCH happier than Americans are... why? Cuz they are happy with what they have... not what they don't have.
So, if you have a job that is stressing you out... so badly that it makes you ill... well, I wonder, why do you have the damn job? I mean really... it obviously doesn't make you feel happy so find something else? Take a cut in pay... so what? Get rid of the dam credit cards... who needs to be a part of the debtor nation?
There ya go... my advice... take it or toss it in the trash.
Good luck! because I have heard that shingles is PAINFUL!!!

    Bookmark   July 3, 2005 at 2:17PM
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dunno where you work ands whethert this might be aplicable but, odn't take this as good advice, its just hthinking aloud.

k got the diclaimer out of the way.

you might wan't to it feeasable take a short holiday, i don't mean going anywhere, just a break from work for a week at home in which to wind down and get in some 'you time'.

a week of lazing about, watching tv, nice hot baths if you like and maby soothing herbal teas like chamomile. tip:if you don't like the smell of chamomile tea but want the benefit and dion't mind the taste then sprinkle a little cinamon in the cup.

anyone else can and probably should sa "fool, don't advise that, thats a recipie for disaster and you'll ruin PaulNS's career"
they're probably right and heed their warning, but on the other hand if your job cares about you so little that they'd rather an extra week of work from you that your physical and enotional wellbeing then do you wan't to work there.

underrstand that i'm not even an adult yet and don't work so tak anything i say with a nich of salt, or better yet a pinch of reality.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2005 at 8:38AM
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PaulNS(NS zone 6a)

That was a most eloquent reply Heathen. I'm glad to hear you're on your feet - and have both feet on the ground. Your story reminded me of my older brother, who was bedridden with chronic illness as a child and then, when he outgrew his troubles, was like a rubber band shot out of a slingshot. It is good to go back to zero - to think what it's like to have nothing - and then count all the blessings we have.

Buddhists say 'mind matters most' and I think they're right. Changing one's frame of mind, one's attitude, is the first step. People who are suffering chronic illness yet stay positive fill me with awe and humility - a friend with MS comes to mind. One of the most compassionate people I know.

The stress in my case has something to do with the difficulty of making a living at what I enjoy. But mostly it comes from wallowing in the past. Or rooting in it. Overlooking the truffles. :)

Dr. Andrew Weil ( often mentions using biofeedback to counter stress and you've reminded me to look into that some more.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2005 at 9:03AM
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PaulNS(NS zone 6a)

shortarse I like your way of thinking. And that's the best web name I've ever seen!
The irony is that I'm working at home, doing what I love - but taking a risk financially, depending on my wife who is working full time but only for the summer. I had to do it for my sanity. There is always the option (an option I'll probably take) of taking a paying job again in the fall, but for now I'm working at developing an organic market garden, with tours, on our land, and working on my art.

I think it's possible to get wired for stress, so to speak, at some point in our lives, and then tend to get stuck on that channel. To mix metaphors.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2005 at 11:30AM
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my, my my...

and here I sit, with a case of my own - a 'non-standard presentation' at that...

started out sunday as what I mistook for a flea bite or something in my cleavage. the next morning, it was a visible rash - now, I have cats, and I garden, and I've been going to the gym a lot shingles was low on my list of possiblities...but peroxide didn't work, and vinegar didn't work (though it helped the skin ick) and bleach didn't work and an antifungal didn't work, and calming balms didn't work, and confrey didn't work, and oregano oil didn't work...

and it worsened by the hour.

it's smack up the middle of my chest, not running sideways around my ribs, or up one side of my neck...

RN friend of mine got called in because I could see here that evening, and the Dr wasn't until the next morning.

she took one look at it, said 'looks like your surgery changed the nerve path - here' and handed me an anti-viral cream.

I went to the doctor's anyway, who confirmed it, talked about the dangers of putting lidocane on open sores and letting it into the bloodstream, asked me if I had a favorite pain killer, gave me some hideously expensive anti-viral drugs (god bless my flex-spending account) and so here I sit...

and to date, the two most effective things I've found are Noxema and Vinegar - I seem to be missing the deep nerve pain that comes with larger patches, but it really does feel like i have a 5 inch cold sore in the middle of my chest, and the fizzing and popping feelings reach all the way to my jawline.

only need the pain killer to sleep, because otherwise, I'm up ever hour and a half to reapply the creams, and that doesn't work.


    Bookmark   October 14, 2006 at 8:21PM
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Yikes! My mom has had shingles a couple of times and so has my father in law. In understand if you've had chicken pox at any time you can get shingles. It is supposedly more likely to attack elderly and people whose immune systems are low so it would seem important to pay attention to keeping one's immune system built up, and yes, elimination of stress also. It sounds terrible - I had chicken pox as a kid and I hope I never experience shingles - certainly sounds like another reason for an ounce of prevention being worth a pound of cure!
Anyway here is some info I researched for my mom:

Complimentary and Alternative Treatments for Shingles:
Vitamin And Mineral Therapy for Shingles
In addition to a daily multivitamin-mineral, individual supplements may be beneficial.
Vitamin A for Shingles
In the form of beta carotene, 25,000 IU twice a day for 2 weeks, then once daily to promote healing and potentiate the immune system. With medical approval, higher dosages of the emulsion form of vitamin A may be beneficial during the first 2 weeks.
Avoid taking Vitamin A supplements during pregnancy.
Vitamin B Complex for Shingles
All B vitamins are essential for nerve function. Vitamin B12 is particularly important in preventing nerve damage.
Take one comprehensive B-complex tablet each morning and evening. Take an additional 5 to 100 milligrams of B1, B6, and pantothenic acid with a teaspoon of brewer's yeast in half a cup of milk each 2 or 3 hours until the symptoms begin to subside, then once or twice a day. This speeds recovery and helps prevent a painful aftermath. Injections of B12 is shown to provide relief from excruciating pain in as little as 2 hours. Take this only under medical supervision.
Vitamin B12, 100 mcg sublingual daily or B12 shots, 6,000 mcg weekly
Vitamin B complex, 50 mg three times daily
Vitamin C with Bioflavonoids for Shingles
Vitamin C is excellent for supporting the immune system and acts as an antiviral agent. It aids in destroying the virus, help prevent postherpetic neuralgia, and boost the immune system. Bioflavonoids improve the absorption and use of vitamin C in the body.
Take 1,000 to 4,000 milligrams of Vitamin C in divided doses throughout the day. Dosages should be continued for several days after the symptoms disappear, then gradually reduced.
Calcium, Magnesium and Vitamin D for Shingles
1,000 to 1,500 milligrams of calcium and 500 to 750 milligrams of magnesium in divided daily doses (some researchers advise 1,000 to 2,000 milligrams of magnesium and 500 to 1,000 milligrams of calcium), plus vitamin D (400 IU daily for I week, then reduced to 100 IU) to assist healing and protect sensitive nerve endings.
Vitamin E for Shingles
Vitamin E speeds healing, prevents scarring and reduces pain. Vitamin E assists the immune system, protects cell membranes from viral attack, and helps prevent the nerve damage responsible for residual pain. Oil from a vitamin E capsule can be massaged onto the skin several times daily. This may relieve discomfort and help avoid any scarring. If a lingering neuralgia persists once the infection has passed, higher dosages of vitamin E can reduce pain in certain cases.
Take 400 to 800 IU daily.
L-lysine for Shingles
Lysine is very effective against the herpes virus. Studies show that when taken at the onset of shingles, this amino acid helps inhibit viral action to reduce the severity and duration of symptoms.
Take 500 milligrams twice daily.
Another amino acid, phenytalanine, relieves pain as it boosts production of the body's own pain-relieving chemicals. Other supplements that help include zinc with copper, and coenzyme Q10.
Phenylalanine, 1,000 mg three to four times daily.
Zinc, 90 mg with 10 mg copper.
Coenzyme Q10, 200 mg.
Aloe vera juice, 2-4 oz. three times daily.

Hope this is helpful.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2008 at 12:07PM
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brendan_of_bonsai(4b AK)

Megadosing on vitamins is not terrible effective and even can do some damage.

Your body uses vitamins in much the same way a home builder uses nails and hardware, only your body in continually regrowing things. Giving a carpenter twenty six tons of snails isn't going to help him build any better or faster when all he really needs is 20 pounds, 20 pounds will help him build a lot better and faster than 2 pounds will though.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2008 at 1:43PM
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