Shingles, a condition characterized by the appearance of red blisters, can be extremely painful. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that about 1 million Americans develop shingles each year. If you have active shingles, you may pass the varicella zoster virus -- the virus responsible for this health problem -- to other individuals. Before using diet and nutrition to help treat your shingles, reviews the risks and benefits of this treatment approach with your family physician.
Shingles is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox. Once you have chickenpox, the virus remains in some of your body's nerves and can become active many years later. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, some of the most significant risk factors for shingles include being older than 60, experiencing chickenpox before your first birthday and using certain medications or having certain chronic health problems that reduce your immune function. Tingling or burning pain is often the first symptom of shingles.
A Helpful Diet
Certain dietary practices may be helpful in treating your shingles, although diet alone will not cure your condition. Phyllis A. Balch, a certified nutritional consultant and author of "Prescription for Nutritional Healing," states that consuming bee pollen or propolis, chlorophyll, and kelp may help fight the virus that causes this condition and speed the healing of your shingles-related blisters. Other beneficial foods in treating this condition include bananas, nuts, garlic, whole grains and sweet potatoes.
A Healing Food
Sweet potatoes are a healing food that may be helpful in treating your shingles-related symptoms. Sweet potatoes contain large amounts of vitamin B-6, or pyridoxine, which may -- in conjunction with other B-vitamins -- be important in promoting nerve health and function. Nutritionist and biologist George Mateljan, author of "The World's Healthiest Foods," states that sweet potatoes also contain significant amounts of vitamins A and C, copper, manganese, potassium, iron, and dietary fiber.
In most cases, a combination of therapies -- including conventional and alternative treatment methods -- may be helpful in treating your shingles. A licensed health care provider can inform you about the most effective and safest therapies for treating this health problem. Although diet and nutritional therapies are used as an adjunct therapy in treating shingles, more research evidence may be required to evaluate the true health benefits of this natural treatment approach.