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Dr. Gregory Pais, ND
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Home arrow Blog arrow SHINGLES VACCINE NOT THE ANSWER
SHINGLES VACCINE NOT THE ANSWER
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the first vaccine for adult shingles. The vaccine, known as Zostavax, is intended for use only in adults age 60 and older.

Merck, the vaccine's manufacturer, expects to make huge amounts of money with this vaccine. There are approximately 50 million Americans over age 60 and more than 95 percent had chickenpox as children. The company originally sought approval to sell the vaccine to adults 50 and older, but the FDA restricted it to those 60 and older because it had not been studied in patients younger than 60.

Shingles occurs when the chickenpox virus that has been dormant in nerve cells becomes reactivated. Usually this disease affects the elderly but it can also develop in insulin-dependent diabetics and those who have immunodeficiency diseases like leukemia and AIDS.

Often an outbreak of shingles is brought on by emotional or physical stress, or medications like chemotherapy drugs, steroids, and medical treatments like radiation therapy. One of the first signs is itching, tingling, or stabbing pain of the skin-just on one side of the body. A few days later a red, blistery, very painful rash, somewhat reminiscent of chickenpox appears. This can last 2-4 weeks or longer. After the skin rash goes away there can be permanent scarring, discolored skin, or numbness of the affected area.

Almost 20% of shingles cases can result in a condition called post-herpetic neuralgia. This intolerable pain can last from days to years. Conventionally there is no treatment for this pain-even the strongest prescription pain drugs are ineffective.

Given that the Journal of the American Medical Association published a 2002 study showing that the varicella (chickenpox) vaccine increases the risk for shingles, doesn't it make more sense to treat the cause of shingles? Just stop giving the chickenpox vaccine. The chickenpox vaccine has always seemed to be the most ridiculous of the childhood vaccinations. Chickenpox is a harmless childhood disease that
Does not need to be prevented. Plus, adults who spend time with unvaccinated children would have their natural immunity increased through ongoing exposure, thus helping to prevent shingles as they got older.

The logic behind the vaccination is weak for the following reason. If you take Zostavax, which contains live varicella virus, it could stress your immune system making you sick. If you're strong enough to risk this effect then you probably wouldn't get shingles in the first place.

There are other options. In 2007 a study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society (Volume 55 Issue 4 Page 511-517, April 2007) found that the practice of tai chi was able to prevent the incidence of shingles among older folks. Researchers monitored the health of 112 healthy adults, aged 59 to 86, half of whom participated in tai chi classes three times a week for about four months, while the rest took weekly health education classes. The tai chi patients doubled their immunity to shingles as compared to the control group during the entire 25-week study, and reported great improvements in mental health, vitality, overall pain and physical functioning. As far as dealing with shingles symptoms the correct homeopathic medicine can make a big difference.

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