Proven Natural Treatments for Shingles: Essential Oils and Honey

Essential Oil Remedies for Treating Shingles Naturally

Shingles is a viral disease that manifests in a painful skin rash with blisters on a small area of your body, normally your torso or face. Before the blisters appear, you may have a headache and fever, but this is often so mild that most people miss it.

Shingles is caused by the varicella zoster virus, which is the same virus that causes chickenpox. If you had chickenpox as a child, the virus is still lurking in your body and may cause shingles if your immune system weakens.

The varicella zoster virus is in the same family as the herpes simplex virus, so many essential oils that work for herpes may well also work for varicella zoster. The one big difference is that oils for shingles must be gentle on the skin to avoid causing more pain than you already experience, so they must be considerably diluted.

Shingles on the Rise Among Younger People

While shingles typically affects people ages 50 and older, it can happen in younger adults.

The varicella zoster virus that causes shingles often emerges from its slumber late in life but over the last 6 decades, there has been a steady increase in the number of shingle cases among young adults.

According to doctors from WebMD, a 2016 study found that rates of shingles have been climbing since the mid-1940s in all age groups. From 1945 to 1949, 0.76 out of every 1,000 people got the disease. Between 2000 and 2007, that number rose to 3.15 people per 1,000.

The virus has hit older adults particularly hard. Shingles rates rose 39% from 1992 to 2010 in people over 65.

What’s behind the increase in shingles cases?

Stress is a suspected reason for the increase in shingles cases. When we are under a lot of stress, our immune system gets temporarily diminished,. That temporary weakening might allow the varicella virus to reemerge.

Another possibility is that higher rates of chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease may have contributed to shingles risk.

How to Protect Yourself and Treat Shingles

There are various natural treatments for shingles. For example essential oils can be used to treat shingles and you can also treat shingles with honey (according to a study).

Let’s look in more detail at these treatments.

The Best Essential Oils for Shingles

Geranium oil

Geranium oil is an effective home remedy if shingles have caused your skin to be sensitive to touch and painfull. This has been proven to be effective in getting rid of pain caused by postherpetic neuralgia. Postherpetic neuralgia is a medical term to describe the pain that can continue after the rash has disappeared.

This is nerve pain due to damage caused by the varicella zoster virus. The result is that the skin is very sensitive to the touch that even dressing, turning in your bed at night or a light breeze and make your skin painful. One study showed that it provides quick relief from shingles pain and is more effective than capsaicin cream.

Ravintsara oil

Ravintsara is a large tree native to Madagascar and the essential oil is extracted by steam distillation of its leaves. The antiviral properties of ravintsara oil are well established; it is even effective as a treatment against viral hepatitis.1

Of all the essential oils, it has the strongest anecdotal evidence behind it specifically for the treatment of shingles.

Lemongrass oil and Lemon balm oil

Lemongrass oil is one of the strongest antiviral oils against herpes simplex virus type-1 (HSV-1) and it is potentially an effective treatment for shingles.2

However, since it is also an extremely hot oil that might burn your skin, lemon balm oil, also called Melissa or Melissa officinalis oil, is the better option if you want to apply it directly to the blisters.

Keep lemongrass oil for your bathwater and your diffuser. Melissa oil is gentler and has the same antiviral effects,3 but be warned, it is expensive.

Lavender oil

There are many good reasons to keep lavender oil in your first aid kit. Lavender oil is a gentle, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic oil that you can apply to the blisters to combat the virus, the inflammation and the pain.4, 5

It will also make you feel relaxed and sleepy if you diffuse it, which is a good idea if you are struggling with the pain. You can also use my other top 20 essential oils for relieving pain and inflammation.

Clove oil

Clove oil is a powerful anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic oil and, accordingly, can treat the virus, the infection, and the pain.6 It is hotter than lavender, so needs to be diluted more if you want to apply straight to the blisters.

Peppermint oil

Peppermint oil is a very versatile and one of the most commonly used essential oils. Peppermint oil has useful antiviral effects against the herpes virus, but needs to be diluted significantly before applying it to the blisters.7

Manuka oil

Manuka oil is derived from the leaves of  the Manuka tree which is native to Mew Zealand. It has antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties which were tested in vitro and significantly inhibited herpes simplex virus.8

Eucalyptus oil

Eucalyptus oil is a reasonably good antiviral oil with impressive analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties.9

Tea Tree (Melaleuca) Oil

Tea tree essential oil is obtained from the leaves of the Melaleuca alternifolia, which is native to Australia. It has anti viral properties and some people find it helpful to clear up the shingles. This oil is very versatile and you can find more used for it in my article about top 5 medicinal uses for tea tree oil.

Black cumin seed oil

According to a study made on rats, the steam-distilled essential oil of Iranian black cumin seed (Nigella sativa L.) was investigated for its analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties. Although black cumin oil cannot do much about the virus, it is a powerful analgesic that researchers have found even anti-opioids cannot reverse.10

I’ve already mentioned the 15 reasons to consume Black cumin / black seed which is also known as the medicine for everything but death.

How to Use Essential Oils for Shingles

– You can apply essential oil(s) to the red spots on your skin after diluting it in a carrier oil such as jojoba oil or coconut oil.

– Since you want the antiviral effect of the oils, diffusing it in your diffuser can also work. As you inhale it, it will circulate through your body. There are many other ways to use essential oils in your diffuser.

– You can make a soothing hot compress: Dilute the oil with a carrier oil, place the blend in a bottle, put the bottle in hot water, and drop some on a towel. Put the hot compress on the painful skin rash caused by shingles.

– Drop some essential oil(s) diluted in a carrier oil in your bathwater from where your body will also absorb it.

Essential Oil Blends for Shingles

The Popular Ravintsara-Calophyllum (Tamanu) Blend

Many companies that sell oil blends for specific health conditions sell a blend that contains ravintsara oil, calophyllum (also called tamanu) oil, Roman chamomile, and/or geranium oil as a shingles treatment: ravintsara to combat the virus and the others to promote healthy skin recovery after the blisters have dried.

Try the following recipe and apply it to the affected area three to five times a day.

  • 2-3 drops ravintsara oil
  • 2-3 drops of geranium oil
  • 1 tablespoon calophyllum (tamanu) oil – this is your carrier oil

Continue to apply this mixture to the irritated skin area after the shingle blisters have subsided to benefit from the anti-viral effects of the ravintsara oil.

A Gentle Topical Blend for Treating shingles

Lavender, manuka, and eucalyptus oils are a good combination too. Apply the following blend to the blisters three to five times a day.

  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 2 drops lavender oil
  • 2 drops manuka oil
  • 2 drops eucalyptus oil

A Strong Topical Blend for shingles

Clove, peppermint, and melissa oil in approximately equal amounts can be a great antiviral and analgesic. Remember to test it on your inner arm first.

  • 1 tablespoon coconut or almond oil
  • 2 drops clove oil
  • 2 drops peppermint oil
  • 2 drops melissa oil

An Antiviral Bath Oil

Add a few drops of diluted clove or lemongrass oil into your bathwater or combine them together.

Keep Going, Even Once Shingles Blisters Have Gone

Continue diffusing the oils, bathing in them, and applying them to your affected area until long after the blisters have disappeared, especially if you are still experiencing pain. This could prevent it from returning soon.

If you get painful shingles often, consider visiting a naturopath or doctor who could help you get to the bottom of why it keeps appearing in the first place. Together with the adoption of a healthy diet and exercise program prescribed by your chosen health professional, you may be able to restore your immune system and stop further episodes of shingles from occurring.

If you are interested to learn more about essential oils you can find useful information in my e-book Magical Aromatherapy. This e-book will help you to discover the power of essential oils and the most effective ways to use them.

How To Treat Shingles With Manuka and Clover Honey

A preliminary study now suggests that there might be a natural and effective balm for shingles: honey or more specifically Manuka and clover honey.

Honey is very convenient for skin application and can be easily made into an ointment. It has been used widely until the discovery of penicillin to treat infections, and is still praised in wound care. You can also use honey to make home-made face masks and you can greatly enhance your health by combining honey and lemon.

Not all types of honey are the same. Some are more potent and health-promoting than others. Certain types could even contribute to the spread of microbes, so it’s vital to determine which honey is best for each condition. Also, processed and refined honey should be avoided if your aim is to get healthy. Look for raw, organic honey that is full of goodness and carries the health benefits and avoid fake honey.

Treating Shingles With Honey – The Study

A study that looked into the effectiveness of honey in the treatment of shingles was a collaboration between Professor Randall Cohrs from University of Colorado-Denver, and Dr. Aamir Shahzad, a Pakistani physician with elaborate field experience with shingles from his home country. The two set out to study two specific types of honey – Manuka and clover honey.

Manuka Honey And Its Health Benefits

Manuka honey is a unique honey, with pronounced health and wellness properties that have been used for centuries. It triggers a natural non-peroxide antibacterial activity, particular to certain strains of Manuka honey only.

Manuka bushes (Leptospermum scoparium) grow only in New Zealand. They were originally considered an invasive weed, but are now praised, as they provide bees with the nectar that produces one of the world’s most valued honeys. You can read more about this type of honey in my article about the 10 most amazing Manuka honey health benefits and uses.

Clover Honey And Its Health Benefits

In contrast, clover honey is the most common type of honey produced in the US. It’s made by bees that feed on the nectar of clover plants. Its mild, floral flavor is very popular among consumers, but since this honey comes in different qualities, you need to check its origin and consistency.

The Results Of The Study

The first in-vitro tests were very promising. Both types of honey showed antiviral activity against varicella zoster virus, which causes chickenpox. More tests need to be done to determine the safety, but clover and Manuka honey could turn out to be an excellent remedy for shingles.

You can use honey for treating shingles by placing Manuka or clover honey on the area of shingles affected skin while making sure that it covers the entire area. You can also use gauze soaked in honey for this purpose. Tie it around the area of shingles and replace with fresh honey every few hours.

Dr. Shahzad explains that the future goal of their joint research is to check the difference in antiviral activity of honey from different geographical locations, and find out honey’s exact mechanism of action. He emphasizes that honey should not take precedence over the more effective antivirals, but should definitely be considered in developing countries where access to medication might be scarce.

Using honey, and not just for eating, is also one of the 70 habits featured in my e-book 70 Powerful Habits For A Great Health which will guide you how to take positive steps to improve your wellness and overall health. Honey might also be a good alternative for people who are trying to avoid drugs in a responsible way and are looking for scientifically backed natural cures.

Related articles:

1. Giraud-Robert, A.M., The role of aromatherapy in the treatment of viral hepatitis. International Journal of Aromatherapy, 2005. 15(4).
2. Minami, M., et al., The Inhibitory Effect of Essential Oils on Herpes Simplex Virus Type‐1 Replication In Vitro. Microbiology and immunology, 2003. 47(9).
3. Allahverdiyev, A., et al., Antiviral activity of the volatile oils of Melissa officinalis L. against Herpes simplex virus type-2. Phytomedicine, 2004. 11(7).
4. Edris, A.E., Pharmaceutical and therapeutic potentials of essential oils and their individual volatile constituents: a review. Phytotherapy Research, 2007. 21(4).
5. Hajhashemi, V., A. Ghannadi, and B. Sharif, Anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties of the leaf extracts and essential oil of Lavandula angustifolia Mill. Journal of ethnopharmacology, 2003. 89(1).
6. Chaieb, K., et al., The chemical composition and biological activity of clove essential oil, Eugenia caryophyllata (Syzigium aromaticum L. Myrtaceae): a short review. Phytotherapy research, 2007. 21(6).
7. Schuhmacher, A., J. Reichling, and P. Schnitzler, Virucidal effect of peppermint oil on the enveloped viruses herpes simplex virus type 1 and type 2 in vitro. Phytomedicine, 2003. 10(6).
8. Reichling, J., et al., Virucidal activity of a beta-triketone-rich essential oil of Leptospermum scoparium (manuka oil) against HSV-1 and HSV-2 in cell culture. Planta Medica, 2005. 71(12).
9. Silva, J., et al., Analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects of essential oils of Eucalyptus. Journal of ethnopharmacology, 2003. 89(2).
10.Hajhashemi, V., A. Ghannadi, and H. Jafarabadi, Black cumin seed essential oil, as a potent analgesic and anti-inflammatory drug. Phytotherapy Research, 2004. 18(3).

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