The C.A.M. Report
Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Fair, Balanced, and to the Point
  • About this web log

    This blog ran from 2006 to 2016 and was intended as an objective and dispassionate source of information on the latest CAM research. Since my background is in pharmacy and allopathic medicine, I view all CAM as advancing through the development pipeline to eventually become integrated into mainstream medical practice. Some will succeed while others fail. But all are treated fairly here.

  • About the author

    John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.

  • Common sense considerations

    The material on this weblog is for informational purposes. It is not medical advice or counsel. Be smart, consult your health professional before using CAM.

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    Capsaicin for treating postherpetic neuralgia

    √ā¬†Postherpetic neuralgia is a painful complication of herpes zoster (shingles).

    Researchers from the Mayo Clinic have published an extensive review. Here are their thoughts on the use of capsaicin.


    • Clinical study results support its effectiveness.
    • A burning sensation is associated with application and limits its use.
    • The burning sensation decreases with continued use.
    • It may take at least 4 weeks of treatment for pain relief to occur.
    • Patients should expect some discomfort before deriving benefit.

    The bottom line?
    Capsaicin is one of 2 topically applied treatments for postherpetic neuralgia. The other is lidocaine (in addition to lots of extemporaneously compounded products). There are many drugs that can be taken by mouth, in addition to a vaccine.

    Unfortunately, no treatment reliably relieves the pain. Drugs are often started at low doses that are increased until the pain is reduced or side effects occur. The authors recommend to “undertake treatment in a systematic fashion that will allow appropriate assessment of both benefit and adverse effects of each drug.”

    In order not to complicate a difficult treatment challenge, capsaicin should be used with the knowledge of the doctor.

    3/6/09 18:37 JR

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