Natural Treatment For Shingles: How To Cure Shingles Fast

Many people may wonder about the natural remedies available for relieving the disturbing symptoms of shingles.

It is estimated that 1 in 3 people in the US will develop shingles at some point in their lifetime. This viral infection is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, which is the same one that causes chickenpox.¹

Unfortunately, once you recover from chickenpox, the virus stays dormant in the body and can reactivate later, leading to the development of shingles.

A weakened immune system, another illness, aging, trauma, or stress can reactivate the virus. And it's important to seek medical attention as soon as symptoms appear. This is because the antiviral therapy for this condition works best when administered as soon as possible and within the first 72 hours from the start of the symptoms.

That being said, there are home remedies for shingles that can help relieve some of the symptoms and discomfort quickly. In fact, anything you can do to boost your immune system will go a long way toward helping your body to combat the virus, which may reduce the severity or duration of the symptoms experienced.

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Can you recover from shingles without medicine?

The simple answer is yes, it is possible as, similar to most viral infections, the disease will take its course, and the person may recover from shingles within a few weeks. However, shingles can be very painful, with complications including postherpetic neuralgia (long-term neurological pain), brain inflammation, pneumonia, vision loss, hearing loss, and even death.

There's currently no cure for this disease, but receiving treatment can improve the symptoms and reduce the risk of these serious complications.

What are shingles treatments?

When you seek early treatment, your doctor will prescribe antiviral drugs like valacyclovir (Valtrex), famciclovir (Famvir), or acyclovir (Zovirax). These drugs work by stopping the progression and spreading of the virus. This, in turn, reduces the severity of the shingles rash and lowers your risk of complications.

Your doctor may also recommend anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce swelling and pain. Painkillers and a topical cream or oral antihistamine may also be prescribed to help relieve itching.

The CDC also recommends that anyone above 50 get the shingles vaccine. Additionally, those 19 years old or older and immunocompromised due to an illness or certain therapies should receive the vaccine.²

On the other hand, there are many natural remedies for shingles that you can try to help improve symptoms and healing time. These alternative remedies may potentially boost your immune system, thus helping to prevent future outbreaks.

Remember that some natural remedies have little to no scientific evidence supporting their safety or efficacy, and discussing any treatment, including natural remedies, with your doctor first is crucial.

Your doctor will evaluate your medical history and ensure no adverse reactions or drug interactions would occur, particularly if you have any other health conditions or are taking any medications. 

Natural remedies for shingles

Symptom-relieving baths

There are several types of therapeutic baths that you can take at home to help relieve shingles symptoms, including:

Cool water baths

Taking cold baths or showers daily helps to keep the sores and blisters clean, thus reducing the risk of spreading the infection. The cold water will also soothe the skin and ease shingles pain. But avoid ice-cold water, as extreme temperatures can increase the skin's sensitivity.

Also, avoid scrubbing the blistered areas or using harsh soap, as this can cause a skin infection to develop.

Oatmeal baths

Cool baths/showers can relieve pain and discomfort caused by shingles, but adding oatmeal to the bath water works even better. Oatmeal is known to have anti-inflammatory properties that can help relieve itching and swelling.

Add 1–2 cups of colloidal oatmeal to lukewarm bath water and soak in for 15–20 minutes. Be sure not to use hot water because the heat increases blood flow and worsens the inflammation. On the other hand, cold water isn't comfortable to sit in.

Cold compresses

If you don't want to shower or bathe, you can hold cool compresses on the affected areas to relieve pain and inflammation. Be sure not to expose the skin to extreme temperatures.

You can use cool compresses several times daily, but remember to use a clean washcloth each time to prevent a skin infection.


Honey is used as an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antimicrobial agent. In fact, a 2012 in vitro study of infected human cells treated with honey outside the body shows honey as a potential remedy for shingles. Apply it on the blistered areas daily to help relieve your symptoms.³

Dietary remedies

A weakened immune system due to stress, malnutrition, or another infection, is one of the risk factors for developing shingles. A weak immune system could also increase your symptoms, delay recovery, and increase your risk of long-term complications.

Luckily, dietary changes can help strengthen your immune system. Though a healthy diet in those immunocompromised due to HIV infection, cancers, or certain immunosuppressant medications may help improve the outcome, these individuals will still find it more difficult to fight the virus. Hence, vaccination is vital for them to prevent infections or serious complications.

Foods to try

Here's a list of foods that can help boost your immune system and improve healing:

  • Green leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts. These foods are high in vitamins C and K, beta carotene, folate, and fiber, making them powerful immune boosters.

  • Foods rich in vitamin C, like citrus fruits and potatoes

  • Foods rich in vitamin B, like grass-fed beef, eggs, poultry, nutritional yeast, liver, fortified cereals, seeds, etc.

  • Adequate hydration is also vital to flushing out waste from your system while helping your kidney and liver to stay healthy. So, try to drink at least eight glasses a day.

  • Garlic and onions contain allium, which is known to boost immune function.

  • Whole grains, nuts, and legumes

  • Fermented foods like kefir and sauerkraut have antimicrobial, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory properties.

  • Foods with healthy fats, such as avocados and fatty fish, help keep your immune system in good shape.

Foods to avoid

While many foods can help improve your immune system to combat the virus, some can have the opposite effects. These include:

  • Red and processed meat

  • Refined carbs

  • Added sugar

  • Fried foods

  • Processed foods

  • Salty foods

  • Any foods high in trans and saturated fats

Consuming too much of these foods can enhance inflammation and lower the body's immune function in fighting shingles and other infections.

What is the best vitamin to take for shingles?

Generally, healthy people consuming a well-balanced diet may not need supplements. However, supplements may be required in some cases, such as in old age and those with absorption issues. Also, immunocompromised patients may need supplementation to maintain healthy immunity.

Here are some vitamins and minerals that offer immune support, which might improve your symptoms or speed up your recovery from shingles.

  • Vitamin C

  • Vitamin D

  • Vitamin E

  • Zinc

  • Selenium

You must consult with your doctor before starting any supplements.

Quit smoking

Smoking harms your health and can lower your immune response against infection. This is especially true for older people or those with other chronic health conditions who are, in fact, at a higher risk of getting shingles. Smoking will delay recovery and healing.

Reduce stress

Reducing stress as much as possible is vital to good health and strong immunity. Shingles can be caused by stress, but they can also cause you to be stressed due to their painful and uncomfortable nature, which may further lower your immunity and worsen your symptoms. 

So, remember to stay calm, take care of your mental health, and find ways to reduce stress in your life. Practicing meditation, yoga, deep breathing, gratitude, and progressive muscle relaxation can help you relax.

Getting enough sleep is also vital for your immune system. Quality sleep reduces stress and allows your body to repair and heal naturally.

What herbs help relieve shingles?

People have long been using essential oils as herbal remedies for skin conditions, and you can use them to help with your shingles. However, bear in mind that little scientific evidence supports using these herbs to treat this condition, and more studies are required to confirm their safety and efficacy for relieving shingles symptoms.

It is also important to note that pure essential oils can cause skin irritation or even an allergic reaction. You should always dilute them with another carrier oil, such as olive oil, and perform a patch test first before applying them on a larger part of your skin.

  • Chamomile oil is known to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties; thus, it can help improve blisters and sores.

  • Eucalyptus oil also has anti-inflammatory properties, and a study showed significant antiviral activity in this oil against viruses.

  • Tea tree oil has anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties, thus able to promote wound healing.

  • Geranium oil has been shown to relieve painful sensations within minutes of application. Plus, it's well tolerated.

  • Researchers have found that Gentiana scabra has a positive effect on pain relief. It also has anti-inflammatory properties, which promote relief for shingles naturally.⁵

  • St. John's wort has analgesic properties and has shown antiviral activities against viruses. These properties may potentially help in treating shingles symptoms.

The lowdown

Shingles are quite common, and there's no cure, but it will run its course. However, seeking early antiviral therapy treatment is important to improve the outcome and prevent complications.

Natural remedies for shingles, like a healthy diet, gentle exercise, and rest, can help decrease discomfort and irritation. Other home remedies can also speed up recovery in conjunction with conventional medications.

  1. Shingles burden and trends | Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

  2. Shingles vaccination | Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

  3. In vitro antiviral activity of honey against varicella zoster virus (VZV): A translational medicine study for potential remedy for shingles (2012)

  4. Antiviral activities of eucalyptus essential oils: Their effectiveness as therapeutic targets against human viruses (2021)

  5. Gentiana scabra bunge. Formula for herpes zoster: Biological actions of key herbs and systematic review of efficacy and safety (2017)

Other references:

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