[Immunology] topical blood application cures shingles?

moloneyg gerry.moloney at itcarlow.ie
Fri Mar 17 16:50:11 EST 2006

Since I am not an immunologist I request comment on the following if

In Ireland (and probably throughout the world!) a 'cure' is widely
practiced where blood from the finger of a 'quack' is applied directly
to the lesions of a person suffering from shingles. The 'patient'
appears to be 'cured' very rapidly i.e. all pain is gone within 24 hrs
and spread of the infection appears to be halted immediately. The
infection disappears within a few days.

I propose an immune system explanation as follows and would appreciate
if someone could say if it is possible or not (or any other comment!)..
I am about to put the explanation and some figures up on a website and
will post the reference  to this gourp if anyone is interested.

Shingles blood cure - Proposed Mode of Action:
Upon application of the blood to a shingles lesion  T-Lymphocytes from
the donor come into contact with viral antigen (Zoster) on the skin
surface of the patient. The antigen stimulates the donor's
lymphocytes to produce soluble lymphokines (e.g. interleukin,
interferon, transfer factor) which are absorbed by the recipient. The
absorbed lymphokines in turn stimulate and 'kick-start' the
recipients own dysfunctional T-lymphocytes [2,3] and/or macrophages to
attack the virus and virally-infected keratinocytes thus initiating

These lymphocytes and macrophages, now properly stimulated and
activated, secrete further soluble mediators which in turn activate
others so that recovery continues. Since a considerable inflammatory
process occurs in shingles it is possible that only a small amount of
the 'right' soluble stimulatory factor needs to be absorbed to act
as a 'kick-start' for the patient's macrophages/lymphocytes/NK
cells already present at the site. Recovery continues once the
kick-start has been given. On the other hand it may be that a number of
mediators are secreted and absorbed and together they produce the
therapeutic effect. That it is possible for some factor to be absorbed
is without doubt. The chemical acyclovir is used as a topical treatment
for shingles (in the form of Zovirax cream) and topical corticosteroids
are used in the treatment of psoriasis. It is also well known that
traumatized skin is many times more absorbing that the intact membrane.

Possible alternative (or concurrent) mode of action
A possible alternative immunological explanation involves the
keratinocytes themselves. These are now known to secrete many soluble
immune system mediators particularly of the interleukin family (under a
variety of stimulants[1]). It may be possible that these mediators or
other compounds of the blood (perhaps as yet unknown) or even the
formed elements themselves stimulate the keratinocytes to secrete the
mediator(s) required to enhance the local immune response and therefore
alleviate the condition.

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