Stephen Buhner is one of the leading voices promoting the benefits of herbal medicine and is the author of Herbal Antivirals, Herbal Antibiotics and a multitude of other books.
Varicella zoster virus is a member of the Herpesviridae family; its sometimes referred to as human herpesvirus 3 (HHV-3). HHV-3 usually occurs first as chick pox (varicella), and later as shingles (herpes voster).
During the initial chicken pox infection, (normally during childhood), spread via respiratory droplets in the air, the virus enters the bloodstream and travels everywhere, making spots all over the surface of the body. It takes about 2 weeks for the spots to appear and the infection period lasts for up to 3 weeks after that, until the spots crust over. At that time, still spotted, the child is no longer infectious.
Though the disease is usually self-limiting and fairly benign, vaccines are now commonly used in the west to prevent chicken pox in children.
Once the initial infection has passed, the virus will become dormant along the dorsal ganglion (the part of the nerve structure of the nervous system). When the infected person experiences a lowered or reduced immune function, the virus can reappear as shingles. The virus travels along the nerve, erupting at the skin surface, making life miserable for those suffering. Many patients experience the odd feeling of tingling, burning, numbness and a very definite feeling that something is wrong. This is the initial signs that the virus will emerge at the skin surface, creating tiny blisters filled with virus particles. The lesions can last for a week or longer. Other rarely, but more difficult complications can occur and include encephalitis, peripheral nerve palsies, hemiparesis, and myelitis.
During eruption, the nerves are damaged by the inflammation and it can take a long time (7 to 10 months) to recover.
The better natural approaches for shingles is the use of herbs to increase immune function to reduce outbreak frequency and herbs that protect and restore the nerves. Specific herbs for nerve pain will also help tremendously, especially those that affect the P2X receptors in the brain.
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In the Stephen Buhner protocol for Varicella Zoster Virus
This herb is a broad-spectrum antiviral that inhibits hemagglutinin and neuraminidase, inhibits viral replication, suppressed viral gene expression reduces viral RNA in infected cells, inhibits viral fusion with cells, protects cell membranes from virus-initiated cytokines, reduces the expression of viral matrix protein gene, interferes with viral entry by interacting with viral envelope proteins and cellular CD4 and chemokine receptors, regulates the innate antiviral immunity of host by modulating cytokine production at the time of viral insult, lowered host cell membrane fluidity this inhibiting the formation of virus-induced membrane pores in host cells, inhibits viral release from infected cells, inhibits viral cytokine cascades, increases apoptosis in infected cells, stimulates innate resistance to viral infection, promotes the development of monoclonal antibodies to encephalitis virus E protein
As a broad-spectrum antiviral, isatis ia directly virucidal. This herb inhibits viral replication, inhibits viral attachment to cells, inhibits hemagglutination, inhibits neuraminidase, inhibits RANTES (Chemokine ligand 5). This herb potentiates the effectiveness of viral vaccines and is an immune stimulant, anti-inflammatory, antipyretic, antinociceptive, antiallergenic, tyrosinase inhibitor, antioxidant, antifungal, antibacterial, antiparasitic, antileukemic, antitumor, potent urease inhibitor, potent cross-class serine protease inhibitor, butyrycholinesterase inhibitor, lipoxygenase inhibitor antiendotoxin, dioxin antagonist
As a major broad-spectrum antiviral, licorice prevents viral replication across a wide range of viruses and inhibits viral growth, and viral uptake.
Stephen Buhner protocol for Immune Formulation
This herb is an immune potentiator and modulator. It strongly regulates interferon-gamma and interleukin-2 levels. If interferon-gamma levels are high, it is strongly active in lowering them, Enhances CD4+ counts and balances the CD4:CD8 ratio. Astragalus is specific for immune atrophy and enhances function in the spleen and thymus.
This herb is active against influenza viruses due to its neuraminidase inhibitor activity. It has been found active against H1N1 and H9N2 viral trains. It is also active against the hepatitis C and Coxsackie B3 viruses. One of its constituents, kaempforol, is specific against Enterovirus 71. It has some antibacterial activity as well, against spaphylococcus aureus (strong), Bacillus subtilis and Mycobacterium tuberculosis (moderate), and E. coli (weak).
This herb is a potent immunoadaptogen. If immune activity is high, it reduces it; if low, it enhances it. When taken regularly, if the immune system is stressed, by say a bacterial infection, the herb will stimulate the immune system in just the right way to respond to the stressor while lowering the level of or inhibiting entirely the bacterial-induced cytokines that are generated.