Shingles is the medical condition in which painful rashes and blisters began to develop on the skin. Rashes appear like bands on one side of the body.

Elderly people are more prone to these diseases. It is caused by the same virus varicella zoster responsible for chicken pox also.

People who had chicken pox earlier in life are more at risk of developing shingles. Because the chicken pox virus remains dormant in body after infection and later in life gets activated and cause more serious condition i.e. shingles.

Shingles is also known as herpes zoster.

Symptoms of shingles:

  • Feeling of tiredness
  • Mild fever
  • Tingling sensation in skin
  • Red patches on skin
  • Burning pain in affected area
  • Itchy blisters

These symptoms remain for 2-4 weeks before skin gets completely clear. But blisters get dried in 2-10 days and form a yellow crust on skin. Around 2 out of 10 people who have had chicken pox develop shingles at later stage.

Cause of shingles include:

Shingles is caused due to activity of varicella zoster virus which has been dormant in the nerve root, skull and spinal cord. The virus gets active when immune system gets weakened due to:

  • Cold
  • Extreme stress
  • Old age

Hence virus getsactive and reaches skin cells and multiply there which leads to inflammation and rashes on skin.

Effects of shingles include:

Shingles not only affect skin but if rashes spread in sensitive areas like eyes, ears then it can even cause:

  • Inflammation of cornea
  • Affect hearing ability
  • Facial paralysis
  • Inflammation of lungs and liver

What is Manuka honey?

Manuka honey is the most commonly used medicinal honey in its native country New Zealand and Australia. It is made out of the nectar taken from pinkish white flower of Manuka plant which is scientifically known as Leptospermum .

It is brown to black in appearance and has many properties which make it fit for medicinal use.

Manuka honey has various properties which makes it special and most popular among other honey available in nature.Its low pH, high sugar content helps to kill microbes by applying osmotic pressure.

High methylglyoxal content and high phenolic content adds to its antiviral, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant action.

Shingles occur due to multiplication of virus, weakend immune system and inflammation. Manuka honey has anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties and has ability to boost the immune system.

So it can be very helpful in preventing shingles to spread. Also the topical administration of honey on rashes can heal the rashes more quickly and prevent skin pigmentation. It even heals scars left on skin.

4 Benefits of Manuka honey In Shingles

Manuka honey has medicinal properties that benefit in shingles the following ways:

1.Manuka honey has anti-viral effect in shingles

Manuka honey is a potent antiviral agent. It can act on wide range of viruses. Topical application of honey on the wounds caused due to virus infection can easily be treated by the Manuka honey.

Many studies have been published by researchers on the antiviral activity of Manuka honey.

A study conducted by Reza Yaghoobi et al investigates the antiviral effect of honey using several evidences available in various libraries and medical database and they found that Honey has potential to reduce viral infection from wounds like lesions.

Trhereh Eteraf-Oskouei and Moslem Najafi present a review on the uses of natural honey in which they mention the use of Honey as an antiviral agent. They mention that honey can be safely used to treat herpes lesions on topical application. Honey also has inhibitory effect on rubella virus.

Arne Simon et al mention the effect of Manuka honey on viral diseases in their paper. They on the basis of the previous studies conducted the study on Manuka honey to further test it ability to treat the lesions and shingles in both children and adult.

The result of the study shows that honey has no side effects in treating both primary and secondary skin infection in patients.

What does this mean?
This means manuka honey is very effective against the viruses and it terminates their activity to stop them to multiply.

2. Manuka honey has anti-inflammatory property

The activation of the inactive varicella zoster virus leads to inflammation in the body and the skin lesions. This inflammation makes the treatment of shingles more complicated and cumbersome.

It has been found that Manuka honey has anti-inflammatory properties. So it can be used to treat this inflammation. Honey suppresses the release of various inflammatory cytokines like TNF-beta, TNF-alpha, IL-6 etc.

Owoyele et al conducted an animal study to investigate the inflammatory activity of honey on acute and chronic inflammations.After treatment the result showed that honey caused a significant decrease in inflammation.

Olajedo RO et al conducted a study to see the effects of honey as anti-inflammatory agent. The results showed that honey is very effective against the inflammation and act by blocking the certain neuroreceptors which produce inflammatory cytokines.

What does this mean?
The anti-inflammatory activity of manuka honey prevents the inflammation to spread by rapid multiplication of virus.

Manuka Honey In Shingles

3. Manuka honey boosts antioxidant defences

The varicella virus responsible for shingles leads to the development of various toxic compounds and reactive oxygen species. These reactive oxygen species are responsible for damaging the skin and cause ulcer. It generates oxidative stress in the cells which can cause several other problems.

Honey since a potential antioxidant can reduce the oxidative stress and degrade the toxic oxygen radicles. The phenolics and flavonoids present in the honey are the major component which produces antioxidant effect.

A study published in the Global Journal of Health Science compare the antioxidant activity of three different type of honey taken from different regions. Manuka honey was one of the three honeys chosen by them.

The result of the study shows that the Manuka honey has highest phenolic content which is responsible for its antioxidant activity.

Zakiajubri et al studied the effect of Manuka honey on the oxidative stress. The result of the study shows that the Manuka honey reduces DNA damage and also reduces activity of enzymes like catalase and peroxidase in the liver. The oxidative stress also decreases.

What does this mean?
Antioxidants present in manuka honey eliminate the oxygen radicals and reactive species on the surface of lesions and wounds produce during shingles.

4.Manuka honey inhibits growth shingles virus

Manuka honey is very effective against the varicella virus and treats shingles very easily compared to several other medications.Since shingles is a skin disease (rashes and ulcers develop on skin). So honey can be very beneficial for its treatment.

Honey has skin caring properties and can treat any infection and inflammation in skin from mild like dandruff to strong like shingles.

Aamir Shahzad and Randall J Cohrs conducted a study the effect of honey against varicella virus. They use Manuka honey and clover honey to fight against varicella zoster virus and check their in-vitro activity.

Both honey show significant activity against the varicella virus. The result shows that honey is convenient for treating zoster rashes (shingles).

Al-Waili NS also conducted a study on 16 patients suffering from herpes simplex (another type of herpes zoster virus but affect only mouth and genitals) lesions.

These patients were treated with honey for few days then its effect was analysed. The result shows that honey treat the lesion effectively and proves to be very beneficial against the herpes virus.

What does this mean?
Manuka is very effective against the varicella zoster virus and its skin lesions.

Dosage of Manuka Honey For Shingles

honeyDosage of Manuka honey for shingles is not specified. Manuka honey can be taken in any amount by a healthy person. Excess of Manuka honey must be avoided and quality must be checked.

UMF (Unique Manuka Factor) is the registered trademark of Manuka honey to keep a track of its quality. UMF represent the concentration of phenol with same antibacterial activity as the honey.

It can be consumed with lukewarm water or directly 1 teaspoon. But avoid putting it in tea and very hot water as it may degrade its essential protein and enzymes and affects its quality.

Precautions

Manuka honey is very beneficial against the varicella herpes zoster virus in treating shingles. But there are some limitations with the use of honey.

As the methylglyoxal content of Manuka honey is very high so its puts a limitation on the use of very high concentration of Manuka honey in diet. It has been found in a study that methylglyoxal is responsible for delayed healing of ulcers in patients suffering from diabetes.

In another study it has been found that concentration of Manuka honey above 50% concentration can cause inflammation and facial paralysis and hearing loss. So it is necessary to take precautions while using Manuka honey.

For patients who are using the Manuka honey for the first time, they should perform a sensitivity test before use. If found allergic, then should avoid using it.

Infants must not be given Manuka honey as it might cause botulism (a condition of breathing resistance and swelling).

Diabetic patient should take Manuka honey in limited quantities. Very high dose of Manuka honey is not safe for consumption.

Store Manuka honey in plastic or glass containers. Keep it away from direct sunlight and at room temperature.

Conclusion

Manuka honey is very effective in managing shingles. Its daily use can be very beneficial in treating the infection and inflammation caused by varicella zoster virus. It increases the immunity and prevents reactivation of the virus.

As a topical agent it treats skin rashes and ulcers appear during shingles but also remove scars. Though, further studies are still required to be done to confirm the safe use of Manuka honey in shingles.

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