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Herpes Zoster (Shingles)

Shingles (herpes zoster) treatment potential for acupuncture and herbal medicine in traditional chinese medicine

Managing Herpes Zoster with Eastern and Western Approaches

(Organ names in Chinese medicine differ from Western medicine's understanding).

Herpes Zoster, commonly known as shingles, is a viral infection caused by the varicella-zoster virus. According to Chinese medicine theory, shingles is caused by a pattern of disharmony called "damp-heat toxin stagnation" or "toxic heat invading the channels." This pattern involves a combination of heat and dampness in the body that can lead to stagnation of qi and blood, resulting in pain and the development of a rash.

In Chinese medicine, the body is viewed as a system of interrelated organs and substances, known as zang Fu theory and internal body substances. One important concept is the concept of dampness, which is associated with the spleen organ. Dampness refers to an excess of fluids that can accumulate in the body, leading to stagnation and disharmony. When dampness combines with heat, it can create a toxic environment in the body that can lead to the development of shingles.

Another important concept is the idea of phlegm, which is associated with the lungs and can also be involved in the development of shingles. Phlegm is a thick, viscous substance that can obstruct the flow of qi and blood in the body, leading to stagnation and disharmony.

In addition to the spleen and lungs, other organs can also be involved in the development of shingles. For example, the liver organ is associated with the flow of qi and can become stagnant, leading to heat and dampness accumulation. The kidneys are associated with the body's ability to control fluids and can become deficient, leading to the accumulation of dampness.

While Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture can be used to manage the symptoms of shingles, it is important to note that they should be used in a complementary approach alongside western medicine. Antiviral medications can help to shorten the duration and severity of the illness, while Chinese medicine can help to manage pain and promote healing.

In conclusion, Chinese medicine offers a unique perspective on the development of shingles and the role of zang Fu theory and internal body substances in maintaining harmony and balance in the body. A complementary approach that combines both western and Chinese medicine can provide effective treatment for shingles.


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  2. Zhang, J., Tang, S., Li, L., Wu, P., & Chen, X. (2019). Acupuncture treatment for herpes zoster: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine, 2019.

  3. Cai, W., Wang, L., Ji, J., & Song, X. (2017). Traditional Chinese medicine for genital herpes: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Medicine, 96(48).

  4. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. (2019). Shingles: Hope through research. Retrieved from

  5. Li, S., Li, P., Li, X., & Sun, X. (2017). Acupuncture for herpes zoster: systematic review and meta-analysis. Medicine, 96(45).

  6. Li, Y. H., et al. (2020). A Review on the Zang-Fu Theory System. Journal of Traditional Chinese Medical Sciences, 7(1), 118-122.

  7. Xue, C. C., et al. (2007). Acupuncture and moxibustion for herpes zoster: A systematic review. Zhongguo zhen jiu= Chinese acupuncture & moxibustion, 27(7), 505-508.

The primary objective of Chinese Medicine is to treat the whole person rather than a specific disease or its given name.  It is an adjunct to Western medicine, with a distinct focus on identifying the underlying cause within Chinese medical  theory and using it's principles in a safe and modern clinical setting.

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