Preventing Shingles: Is There a Better Alternative then Shingrix?

by Dr. Al Sears

There is a virus that remains dormant inside your body long after you were first infected…right up until the day it gets reactivated because of a weak immune system.

No, I’m not talking about Covid.

I’m talking about shingles. And anyone who’s ever had chickenpox as a child is at risk of getting this viral infection of the nervous system. They’re both caused by the varicella-zoster virus.

It’s not something you ever want to experience.

Shingles causes an outbreak of prolonged and painful blisters on your skin that can last for months. But there’s more to shingles than an agonizing rash…

A recent study came out in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology . It found that getting shingles increases your risk of heart attack and stroke by a whopping 41%.1

Shingles can also lead to pneumonia, hearing and vision loss, facial paralysis, and autoimmune diseases.

One out of five people who get shingles will go on to develop what’s known as postherpetic neuralgia. Patients have described the agony of this complication as “worse than childbirth” and “more painful than passing a kidney stone.” The slightest breeze or even your bed sheet is enough to trigger unbearable pain.

Traditional medical doctors will tell you that the only way to prevent shingles is with a Big Pharma vaccine.

But this kind of vaccine is linked with skyrocketing rates of autoimmune diseases… In fact, the FDA just slapped a new safety warning on GlaxoSmithKline’s vaccine cash cow Shingrix. A large Medicare study found that the shot increases your risk for an autoimmune disorder called Guillain-Barre Syndrome.

I take a different approach with my patients… I encourage them to avoid shingles — and the potential dangers of the vaccine — by getting their body’s immune system in tip-top shape.

A healthy immune system is the key to preventing any infectious disease.

One of the most powerful immune boosters I know of comes from deep in the heart of the Amazon rainforest. It’s a woody vine called cat’s claw that the Ashaninka tribe has used for thousands of years to boost immunity.

Today, clinical studies are validating what these traditional healers have known for centuries…

In one study, a group of volunteers were given 350 mg of cat’s claw twice daily or a placebo. After eight weeks, the number of white blood cells in the cat’s claw group increased substantially.2 A second study of healthy adults given cat’s claw for six weeks noted the same results.3

Cat’s claw works both by boosting your immune response and calming an overactive immune system. In one study, it was found to suppress TNF-α production by up to 85%. TNF-α is a pro-inflammatory cytokine produced by macrophages, monocytes, endothelial cells, neutrophils, smooth muscle cells, activated lymphocytes, astrocytes, and adipocytes. It’s released following infection and has a powerful antivirus effect.4

When it comes to additional viral infections, cat’s claw:

  • Was more effective at reducing symptoms in 31 volunteers with cold sores virus (herpes labialis) than the prescription antiviral drug Acyclovir.5
  • Stopped the spread of the herpes virus by preventing it from attaching to cells.6
  • Reduced incidence of human papillomavirus in 261 study volunteers.7
  • Prevented immune cells from being infected with dengue virus.8

Look for a supplement made from the inner bark of the plant and take 500 mg per day.

Shield your immune defense with nature’s remedies

Cat’s claw isn’t the only immune-boosting plant I recommend. Here are two more plants that strengthen your immune shield:

Enhance your immunity with astragalus. I’ve used this herb for more than 20 years to help my patients improve their immune systems. There are over 100 scientific studies on astragalus’ effect on immune function.

And the research on astragalus continues to grow… In one study, the immune systems of subjects supplementing with astragalus for three months acted up to 20 years younger.9

I recommend 500 mg of the astragalus extract three times a day.

Boost your body’s defenses with açai. This berry has become all the rage in recent years, and with good reason. It is high in antioxidant compounds like polyphenols and polysaccharides, which have been shown to increase antioxidant ability in the blood and enhance T cell immune response.10

When taken directly, açai boosts the production of interleukin 12 (IL-12) as well as myeloid cells, a type of white blood cells that ensure your immune system is healthy.

Açai berries are available fresh, frozen, or in powder form. Of course, you can also supplement. I suggest taking 5,000 mg daily.


  1. Min-Chul K, et al. “Herpes zoster increases the risk of stroke and myocardial infarction.” J Am Coll Caridol. 2017;70(2):295 DOI: 10.1016/j.jacc.2017.05.015
  2. Lamm S, et al. “Persistent response to pneumococcal vaccine in individuals supplemented with a novel water-soluble extract of Uncaria tomentosa, C-Med-100.” Phytomedicine. 2001 Jul;8(4):267-74.
  3. Sheng Y, et al. “Enhanced DNA repair, immune function and reduced toxicity of C-MED-100, a novel aqueous extract from Uncaria tomentosa.” J Ethnopharmacol. 2000 Feb;69(2):115-26.
  4. Seo S. “Tumor necrosis factor alpha exerts powerful anti-influenza virus effects in lung epithelial cells.” J Virol. 2002 Feb; 76(3): 1071–1076.
  5. Mur E, et al. “Randomized double-blind trial of an extract from the pentacyclic alkaloid-chemotype of uncaria tomentosa for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.” J Rheumatol. 2002 Apr;29(4):678-81.
  6. Caon T, et al. “Antimutagenic and antiherpetic activities of different preparations from Uncaria tomentosa (cat’s claw).” Food Chem Toxicol. 2014 Apr;66:30-5 .
  7. Mistrangelo M, et al. “Immunostimulation to reduce recurrence after surgery for anal condyloma acuminata: a prospective randomized controlled trial.” Colorectal Dis. 2010 Aug;12(8):799-803.
  8. Mistrangelo M, et al. “Immunostimulation to reduce recurrence after surgery for anal condyloma acuminata: a prospective randomized controlled trial.” Colorectal Dis. 2010 Aug;12(8):799-803.
  9. Harley, C., Weimin L., et al. “A natural product telomerase activator as part of a health maintenance program.” Rejuv Res. 2010.
  10. Holderness J., et al. “Polysaccharides isolated from Açaí fruit induce innate immune responses.” PLoS One. 2011 Feb 28;6(2):e17301.