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Photobiomodulation for Shingles

The virus that causes shingles is the same virus that causes chicken pox. When you have gotten over your chicken pox, the virus goes dormant and can stay that way for up to 50 years. You still have the infection, you just don’t show any symptoms. Then, if something happens to weaken your immune system, the virus can re-emerge as shingles.

The Age-Shingles Connection

Unfortunately, one of the things that can happen is unavoidable: age. Researchers believe the immune system weakens as you age, and that’s why the prime demographic for shingles is people over 60. But age isn’t the only thing that weakens the immune system. Stress or an unrelated disease can do it, too. So you can get shingles at any age.

The CDC describes shingles this way: “The rash is usually painful, itchy or tingly. These symptoms may precede rash onset by days to weeks. Some people may also have headache, photophobia (sensitivity to bright light), and malaise in the prodromal phase.” Shingles is one of the most unpleasant and debilitating medical conditions. But it has an extremely low fatality rate. Fewer than 100 people die of it in the U.S. each year. That’s a good thing, because the CDC estimates that about a third of the population gets it in their lifetime.

Photobiomodulation for Shingles

There has been a significant amount of research on using photobiomodulation (PBM) to treat shingles. This article, in Chiropractic Economics, cites about a half dozen studies. A comprehensive review of clinical studies, published in 2018, gave PBM a “grade of recommendation of B” for “acne vulgaris, herpes simplex and zoster [herpes zoster is the shingles virus], and acute wound healing.” The paper didn’t specify what a grade B amounted to, but it is definitely better than a C or a D.

If you suffer from shingles, ask your doctor about photobiomodulation or low-level laser therapy (also known as LLLT). PBM has provided significant pain relief for large numbers of shingles patients in research studies. So your doctor may know how to take advantage of the treatment for you, including proximity of light source, wavelength, and duration. In a medical context, PBM is usually delivered with a localized laser emitter. I can’t offer the Peak Recovery & Health Center PBM bed as a treatment plan. We aren’t a medical facility.

A Promising Aid to Prevention

But I’m as enthusiastic as any of the researchers about PBM and shingles. Researchers believe it provides relief because of its ability to release neurotransmitters, promote the release of endorphins, reduce inflammation markers, and promote tissue regeneration. At this point, all those effects are extensively documented in the research literature. So, while I can’t offer Peak’s PBM bed as a treatment for shingles, I think I can be confident in offering it as an aid in the prevention of the condition. If the PBM bed reduces your inflammation and regenerates your tissues, I should think it may help to keep the deeper layers of your skin healthy enough to reduce the possibility of shingles outbreaks.

If you’re over 50, get the shingles vaccine. And consider regular PBM sessions as an additional aid to prevention.

PBM is absolutely noninvasive and safe. A session takes about 15 minutes, and many of our clients who use it report they emerge from a session feeling vibrant and energized. Book a session today.