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The incidence of shingles is about 4 in a thousand in the US. Those who suffer, generally suffer miserably. It is important to know the symptoms, because the sooner you can get treatment, the easier it is to get on top of it, and the faster it should heal.


It may start with a tingling or tickling sensation in the same area weeks before the outbreak occurs. This can become painful, burning, throbbing or shooting. Just before you realize you have shingles, you may get a fever, chills, fatigue, swollen, tender lymph nodes and/or weakness. Then the angry red rash shows up. It is usually on the chest, back or belly, but can also show on the neck, face, or anywhere. This is followed by the more painful phase, the blisters. During this stage you can give it to someone else. Resist the urge to scratch at the blisters to prevent it spreading.  


As it is healing, it gets crusty. Resist the urge to pick the scab off because, like chicken pox, it can leave an unsightly scar. Generally, as the rash and blisters disappear, the pain does as well, but not always. Post-herpatic neuralgia (PHN) is when the pain continues after the rash and blisters are gone. It can continue to be painful for years. It is most likely in individuals with weakened immune systems.


Drugs are generally the most common approach to treatment, but there are other solutions, either individually or in combination with meds.


Acupuncture has demonstrated effectiveness in treatment of shingles. According to Tianjing University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, researchers found that “Acupuncture relieves pain due to shingles, reduces the need for painkillers, speeds the healing of herpes zoster lesions, and reduces the incidence of postherpetic neuralgia (PHN).” “Patients receiving both drug therapy and acupuncture in a combined treatment protocol had superior patient outcomes compared with patients using only drug therapy.” “Three month follow-up examinations determined that the incident rate of postherpetic neuralgia plummeted to 3.33% in the group receiving acupuncture plus drug therapy. The group receiving only drug therapy had a PHN incident rate of 30%. The addition of acupuncture to the treatment protocol decreased the PHN rate by 26.67%” reported HealthCMI.


In private practice, where practitioners combine both acupuncture and herbs or foods to help shingles resolution, we find that the combination of these approaches work as well as or even better than these findings. This is because we treat each person as an individual, with more than just the two acu-points used in the study. We are able to address the risk factors such as stress/anxiety/depression, poor sleep, hormonal chaos, poor nutrition, and the conditions that require steroids and other medications that can trigger shingles outbreaks. This is true preventative therapy.



© 2018 Holly A. Carling, O.M.D., L.Ac., Ph.D.




The Pain of Shingles

Doctor of Oriental Medicine

Licensed Acupuncturist

Doctor of Naturopathy

Clinical Nutritionist

Master Herbologist



Dr. Holly A. Carling

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Dr. Holly Carling is a Doctor of Oriental Medicine, Licensed Acupuncturist, Doctor of Naturopathy, Clinical Nutritionist and Master Herbologist with nearly four decades of experience.  Dr. Carling is a “Health Detective,” she looks beyond your symptom picture and investigates WHY you are experiencing your symptoms in the first place. Dr. Carling considers herself a “professional student” – she has attended more than 600 post-secondary education courses related to health and healing. Dr. Carling gives lectures here in the U.S. and internationally and has been noted as the “Doctor’s Doctor”. When other healthcare practitioners hit a roadblock when treating their patients nutritionally, Dr. Carling is who they call. Dr. Carling is currently accepting new patients and offers natural health care services and whole food nutritional supplements in her Coeur d’ Alene clinic.  Visit Dr. Carling’s website at to learn more about Dr. Carling, join our e-mail list and read other informative articles.  Dr. Carling can be reached at 208-765-1994 or and would be happy to answer any questions regarding this topic.