Herpes is a group of viruses that can wreak a number of maladies in humans including shingles (caused by herpes zoster), genital herpes and cold sores to mention a few. The common symptoms that all types of herpes inflict include sores, and itchy or painful blisters. Drugs are often utilized to suppress the symptoms. Unfortunately, there is still no known cure for herpes. Natural and alternative therapies can be superior medical options that help relieve pain. Some of them have proven successful, especially for herpes zoster.
A major component of traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture has been practiced for over 5,000 years in China. Practitioners of acupuncture argue that vital energy, which the Chinese call qi, travels throughout the body through vessels of energy known as meridians. Qi energizes and nourishes the body giving it strength to grow and thrive. When the flow of qi is hindered due to blockages that have developed along the meridians, this causes the body to experience pain and develop disorders and diseases. Acupuncture is then utilized to remove the blockages in the meridians to bring back balance in the body enabling the body to thus heal itself. Acupuncture entails the use of very thin acupuncture needles inserted at certain points in the body known as acupuncture points. Just underlying these points are the meridians and the acupuncturist chooses the point where the affected meridian is located. There are about 2000 acupuncture points dispersed all over the body. Western medicine science theorizes that acupuncture works by stimulating the release of endorphins and other “feel-good chemicals” to relieve pain and treat other conditions. It is an ideal treatment for herpes because of its ability to heal issues from addiction and infertility to alleviating cold and flu symptoms.
Seen as a reactivation of chickenpox, herpes zoster occurs during adulthood, especially during the ages of 60 and above. Its symptoms are quite different though from chickenpox. Sores and blisters develop on the ribcage area and on the back, often unilaterally or on one side of the body. Aching, burning and tingling are typical and severe pain can also be experienced. The blisters usually dissipate in a matter of weeks, although for some patients the nerve pain may linger for years. Acute and chronic herpes zoster symptoms can be resolved with acupuncture, helping lessen the severity and length of the pain. Some patients are very responsive to the benefits of acupuncture that they experience a complete cure of their condition. Acupuncture has very little, if any, side effects.
Oral and Genital Herpes
Sadly, there are very few studies regarding acupuncture’s effectiveness in treating oral and genital herpes. Herpes zoster and oral and genital herpes are different from each other since the two latter conditions usually follow a shorter course, enduring just a few weeks per episode with the nerve pain not enduring like that of herpes zoster. The few studies conducted showing acupuncture’s ability to treat genital and oral herpes has revealed that it can prevent recurrences, extend the remission time between outbreaks and prevent outbreaks.
Ivelisse DeJongh is a Miami acupuncturist and the medical director at DeJongh Acupuncture Clinic.