Friday, June 03, 2005

The Fiery Tingles of Shingles

Okay, so I’ve made my point about how easy it is to manipulate vaccine data to support the growth of this industry. There are over 100 new vaccines in development right now. Kind of scary. But, some of these vaccines could be very useful.

Really, I’m not anti-vaccine. I’m pro-informed consent.

And as proof, here’s a vaccine that just may be a good idea. Zostavax is a new shingles vaccine that Merck is hoping the FDA will approve.

According to a story in the June 2nd issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, Merck has tested the vaccine on more than 38,500 men and women aged 60 and older and they’re reporting that 61 percent of shingles patients reported reduced pain and discomfort following vaccination, compared to placebo. Zostavax apparently also reduced the incidence of persistent nerve pain by 67%. The study claims the vaccine reduced the incidence of singles by 51% but I’m not sure how they figured that out since the article implies that the vaccine was tested on people who already had shingles and I’m not going to read the whole study.

This vaccine will sound promising to anyone who has had shingles or watched a loved one suffer. I had shingles when I was 35. And it was by far the most painful thing I have lived through. Way, way, way worse than meningitis. I’d give birth every day for a year rather than suffer with shingles again.


Okay, I just remembered how I got through my bout with shingles and now I’m starting to wonder how great this vaccine actually is (you are witnessing train-of-thought-writing and conclusion-drawing).

So, I suffered for days, thinking there was nothing to do but wait the disease out. My mom suggested a natural approach to deal with the pain and sores, a remedy she found in the book Prescription for Nutritional Healing.

At the core of the treatment was mega-dosing Vitamin C. I took 8,000 mg a day. I expected stomach aches and diarrhea (is this over-sharing?) but I had no ill-effects from that much vitamin C. I also took high doses of Vitamins A, B, D and E, Zinc, Calcium and Garlic. Within two days of starting the vitamins I was able to consider living again. I no longer wanted to slit my wrists, to create pain somewhere other than where the shingles sores were.

So…now that I think about it…maybe I’m not so much in favour of this new shingles vaccine. What I’d love to see is a study that compares the outcomes of using the shingles vaccine to the outcomes of megadosing the vitamins I took. And, how about some mention of the side effects of the vaccine, while we're at it.

Of course the vaccine outperformed the placebo…big deal. But will it outperform the non-pharmaceutical remedies that already exist?

Vaccines-schmaccines. Even when I really try to look generously on them, I stumble. Sorry. I tried. I really did. But knowledge and experience got in the way.


Blogger Herbinator said...

Ha, ha, you had me going there.

Even the concept of a shingles vaccine doesn't make sense to me.

Head to head comparisons with natural methods! Now yer talkin turkey. But, alas, it is unethical to perform such studies by medico definition ... and we all know how ethical the medicos are. Such comparisons used to be performed long, long ago but the Standards almost always came out worse.

June 03, 2005  
Blogger Herbinator said...

Tag. You're it.

June 04, 2005  
Blogger Gina said...

I had shingles at 27 (just three months ago) while I was breatfeeding my 10 mo and where did I get them, right across the left breast and that just happens to be the only side she nurses from...
After explaining to my doctor how it felt like there was someone standing on my cheast with high heels, he goes a little far with the imagery...stating I had a two hundred pound dominatrix standing on my cheast.
I'm with you and being cautious about vaccines. And I more than likely couldn't have had it b/c I was nursing, but the pain, oh the pain...and I couldn't imagine being 80 and having it.

June 06, 2005  
Blogger Donna said...

oh my goodness, Gina. I cannot imagine what you suffered. How did you manage to get through it?

June 06, 2005  
Blogger Gina said...

After talking with my Dr and my daughters Dr. I went on Valtex (the antiviral) and It went away quick, but I had four really bad days. It wasn't the ideal solution, but with two preschoolers at home and my husband just having gone back to work after an injury (so he couldn't take off) I found that it was one of the better options and it may have added some protection to my daugher, that's all I needed was a 10 mo with chicken pox!!!
I don't know if now that I've had it, I'm now more likely to get it again, but I'd skip the vaccine. I had the rabies vaccine before I had kids (four months before I got pregnant...unplanned..) and we had a miscarriage, I know those things happen to even healthy people, but I often wonder if the vaccine had anything to do with it.

June 07, 2005  
Blogger Donna said...

This just in, on June 15. I'm not crazy. Vitamin C works for everyone!


(Orthomolecular Medicine News Service, June 15, 2005)

OMNS - Shingles can be cleared up by using a safe, convenient, inexpensive, nonprescription treatment of vitamin C. Vitamin C is anti-viral and anti-toxin and inactivates the virus that causes shingles. If you have shingles and want relief, you can try this:

Go to a discount store and buy a large bottle of 1000 mg vitamin C tablets. The cost should be less than $15.

Begin when you wake in the morning by taking 3000 mg of vitamin C every 30 minutes and continue until you have a single episode of loose stool (not quite diarrhea). If you haven't had loose stool after 15 hours on this dosage, increase the vitamin C to 4000 mg every 30 minutes.

After you have a loose bowel movement, reduce the dosage to 2000 mg of vitamin C taken every hour. You will quickly find the dosage that is right for you. Adjust the dosage of vitamin C downward to stay below the dosage that will cause loose stool and adjust it upward to relieve shingles symptoms. Continue the oral vitamin C therapy until the shingles disappear.

It sounds too simple to be true, doesn't it? But it works in the majority of cases, as recently reconfirmed by Thomas E. Levy, M.D., J.D. (1)

June 16, 2005  
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