Herpes Zoster or shingles is a painful rash on the skin and is caused by a reactivation of the chickenpox virus, which remains dormant in nerve cells for years. The rash usually subsides within a month, however, in some affected individuals – usually the elderly – the resulting nerve damage causes severe pain, which may last for months or even years. This pain is termed as post-herpetic neuralgia.
The Ayurvedic treatment of post-herpetic neuralgia is aimed at treating the nerve damage, controlling pain, and boosting the immune status of the body so as to prevent the virus from reactivating. Nerve damage can be treated using medicines like Maha-Vat-Vidhvans, Vat-Gajankush-Ras, Bruhat-Vat-Chintamani, Tapyadi-Loh, Ekang-Veer-Ras, Trayo-Dashang-Guggulu, Kaishor-Guggulu, Abhrak-Bhasma, Trivang-Bhasma, Aswagandhadi-Churna, Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), Yashtimadhuk (Glycyrrhiza glabra), Mandukparni (Centella asiatica), and Haridra (Curcuma longa).
Pain can be controlled using medicines like Vat-Gajankush-Ras, Maha-Vat-Vidhvans-Ras, Agnitundi-Ras, Vishtinduk-Vati, Maha-Rasnadi-Guggulu, Triphala-Guggulu, Dashmoolarishta, Dashmool-Ghan-Vati, Rasna (Pluchea lanceolata), Dashmool (Ten Roots), Nirgundi (Vitex negundo), Ashwagandha, Sarpagandha (Raulwofia serpentina), Tagar (Valeriana vallichii), Jayphal (Myristica fragrans) and Khurasani ova (Hyoscyamus niger).
A combination of local applications like Vishgarbha-Oil, Maha-Narayan-Oil, Maha-Mash-Oil and Maha-Saindhavadi-Oil can be used both to control the pain and to treat nerve damage. Kumari (Aloe vera), Yashtimadhuk, Manjishtha (Rubia cordifolia), Saariva (Hemidesmus indicus) and Chandan (Santalum album) can also be mixed with Shata-Dhout-Ghrut and used as a soothing ointment.
Immunomodulatory medicines like Tulsi (Ocimum sanctum), Bhrungraj (Eclipta alba), Guduchi (Tinospora cordifolia), Punarnava(Boerhaavia diffusa) and Kutki (Picrorrhiza kurroa) can be used to empower the immune system of the body and help to deactivate the herpes virus. Antiviral medicines like Bhumiamalaki (Phyllanthus niruri), Yashtimadhuk, Daruharidra (Berberis aristata) and Amalaki (Emblica officinalis ) can also be used for this purpose.
Prompt diagnosis and aggressive treatment of shingles usually helps to prevent complications like post-herpetic neuralgia. The pain experienced in this condition can be prolonged and severe enough to make strong, healthy adults break down and cry. Ayurvedic herbal medicines have proved to be quite effective in controlling and treating this condition. Treatment for post-herpetic neuralgia is usually required for nine to twelve months.