Nutrition for Your Shingles and Post-Herpetic Neuralgia Patients



Nutrition Planning - A Little Something Extra for Your Postherpetic Neuralgia Patients
Treating the postherpetic neuropathy or shingles patient can be challenging.
They've already been through the pain of shingles...
The rash is gone and they expected to be normal again.
What they didn't count on was postherpetic neuropathy.
Chances are by the time they reach your office, they're frustrated...depressed...irritable.
The medications aren't working and they're looking for a solution.
Something...anything...to make their postherpetic neuropathy pain stop and give them back their lives.
As a postherpetic neuropathy specialist, you're in a unique position to give them what they need to heal. The missing pieces of the treatment puzzle that they haven't addressed before now.
That Little Something Extra - A Good Nutrition Plan
Your postherpetic neuropathy patient is probably accustomed to hearing the "take 2 of these and call me in the morning" approach to their neuropathy pain. That approach hasn't worked or they wouldn't be in your office. They need address the most basic ingredient in healing the human body - nutrition.
There are certain vitamins and minerals that have been shown to lessen the pain caused by shingles and postherpetic neuropathy. Your postherpetic neuropathy patients need to make sure they're getting these vitamins and minerals, in healthy amounts, to give their body what it needs to heal.
This is where you come in. By providing nutrition counseling services to your postherpetic neuropathy patient, you not only address their actual real-time physical symptoms, you give them vital information they need to participate in their own care and take control of their health again.
Make sure that any nutrition planyou prescribe for your postherpetic neuropathy patients includes:
- Whole grains and legumes to provide B vitaminsto promote nerve health. Whole grains promote the production of serotonin in the brain and will increase their feeling of well- being.
- Fish and eggs for additional vitamins B12 and B1.
- Green, leafy vegetables (spinach, kale, and other greens) for calciumand magnesium. Both of these nutrients are vital to healthy nerve endings and health nerve impulse transmission and, as an added bonus, give the immune system a boost.
- Yellow and orange fruits and vegetables (such as squash, carrots, yellow and orange bell peppers, apricots, oranges, etc.) for vitamins A and Cto help repair skin and boost the immune system.
- Sunflower seeds (unsalted), avocados, broccoli, almonds, hazelnuts, pine nuts, peanuts (unsalted), tomatoes and tomato products, sweet potatoes and fish for vitamin Eto promote skin health and ease the pain of postherpetic neuropathy.
- A good multivitamin and mineral supplement to fill in any gaps in their daily nutrition.
Advise them to avoid:
- Coffee and other caffeinated drinks.
- Fried foods and all other fatty foods. Fatty foods suppress the immune system and that's the last thing they need when fighting postherpetic neuropathy.
- High protein foods like animal protein. High-protein foods elevate the amount of dopamine and norepinephrine which are both tied to high levels of anxiety and stress which will only make them more irritable.
- Alcoholic beverages. Alcohol consumption limits the ability of the liver to remove toxins from the body and can make a bad situation worse.
- Processed sugar. They don't have to eliminate sweets completely, just control them. Keeping blood sugar levels constant will help control irritability.
- Control salt intake. Opt for a salt substitute with potassium instead of sodium and stay away from preserved foods like bacon, ham, pickles, etc. Reducing salt intake will help ease inflammation and that alone will work wonders in the healing process.
Sit down and discuss your postherpetic neuropathy patient's lifestyle and diet as part of the initial consultation process. The information gained will help you devise a nutrition plan tailor made for your patient and help to build a rapport between you. And pay close attention to the responses you receive in that first meeting - they will give you a good idea as to whether or not you have a compliant patient.
Stress Management Strategies
Now that you've addressed the nutrition portion of the postherpetic neuropathy treatment program, talk to your patient about their stress level. Even with good nutrition, if they're letting the stress of life and postherpetic neuropathy get the better of them, their body is working too hard. They're expending energy battling stress that could be used to fight postherpetic neuropathy.
Put together a lifestyle plan for your patient utilizing patient appropriate stress management tools. Some suggestions might be:
- Exercising regularly. If they're physically capable, a brisk 15 minute walk every day is a good place to start.
- Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, tai chi, yoga or meditation. Any of these will calm the mind and, in turn, calm the body and nerves.
- Finding a hobby that will take the mind off postherpetic neuropathy pain.
The combination of nutrition and stress management will do wonders for your postherpetic neuropathy patients. When used in concert with the other medical treatment options available to you, you may just give these patients a new lease on life and build healthy habits that will remain with them long after the pain of postherpetic neuropathy is a distant memory.
We hope this gives you some insight on nutrition counseling and diet planning for your postherpetic neuropathy patients. Offering these services can be the missing piece of the treatment puzzle that you've been looking for in treating this challenging patient population. The addition of these services to your treatment options can help you build a successful medical practice as well.
When you're trained and ready to offer these services, let them know you're there.

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