Treating & Preventing Shingles From A Functional Medicine Perspective

For anyone who has experienced shingles, or been around someone who has, you know this can be an incredibly painful condition. Symptoms include rash, hives, and nerve pain. Shingles are caused by the varicella-zoster virus, which is the same virus that causes chickenpox. This virus tends to hide, or almost hibernate, in nerve cells long after someone has recovered from chickenpox, and can re-emerge as shingles down the line.

In this episode, Dr. Hyman sits down with Dr. George Papaicolaou to discuss why supporting the immune system is so critical when it comes to preventing and treating shingles, and much more. George Papanicolaou is a graduate of the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine and is Board Certified in Family Medicine from Abington Memorial Hospital. He is also an Institute for Functional Medicine Practitioner.

Upon graduation from his residency, he joined the Indian Health Service. He worked on the Navajo reservation for 4 years at the Chinle Comprehensive Medical Facility where he served as the Outpatient Department Coordinator. In 2000, he founded Cornerstone Family Practice in Rowley, MA. He practiced with a philosophy centered on personal relationships and treating the whole person, not just not the disease. He called that philosophy “Whole Life Wellness”.

Over time as the healthcare system made it harder for patients to receive this kind of personal care, Dr. Papanicolaou decided a change was needed. He began training in Functional Medicine through the Institute of Functional Medicine. In 2015, he established Cornerstone Personal Health – a practice dedicated entirely to Functional Medicine. Dr. Papanicolaou joined The UltraWellness Center in 2017.

In this conversation, Dr. Hyman and Dr. Papanicolaou discuss:

  • The shingles-chicken pox connection
  • Symptoms associated with shingles, and why they are so painful
  • The role of the immune system in the development of shingles
  • The conventional vs. functional medicine approach to treating shingles
  • The shingles vaccine
  • Patients suffering from shingles who Dr. Papanicolaou has treated
  • How meditation and sleep hygiene supports the immune system
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