What is Monkeypox and What Can You Do About it?
Anne Salazar, RH (AHG)
First things first- What exactly is Monkeypox?
Monkeypox is caused by the monkeypox virus which belongs to the orthopoxvirus genus of the Poxviridae family (1). Monkeypox is a virus that’s closely related to smallpox and cowpox, all of which are in the Orthopoxvirus genus. It’s not new, having been identified more than 60 years ago in monkeys; the first infection in a human was noted in 1970. Monkeypox has been in the news lately after cases appeared in humans in multiple countries where it had not previously been seen, and there is still much to be learned about how it spreads and how it can be prevented. Much of what we do know, however, is consistent with well-established avoidance strategies for other viral infections: good hygiene, keeping your distance from infected persons, using safer sex practices, and being diligent about supporting innate immunity.
There is no firm evidence yet as to how or where the current outbreak was initiated. Early evidence suggests that person-to-person transmission is most likely in those who touch or have prolonged close contact with an infected person. If you are old enough to have received the smallpox vaccine as a child, you may have some immunity to Monkeypox. The two viruses are related enough that having been infected with or vaccinated against smallpox offers some protection against monkeypox. According to Dr. Luigi Ferucci, scientific director of the National Institute on Aging, “The bottom line is that even those that were vaccinated many decades before, maintain a very, very high level of antibodies and the ability to neutralize the virus. Even if they were vaccinated 50 years ago, that protection should still be there.” And it looks like most children and adults with healthy immune systems are likely to dodge severe illness, experts said in interviews.
Symptoms of monkeypox generally start with chills, fever, headache, and body aches – typical of viral infections. Monkeypox infection often includes swollen lymph nodes as well. The characteristic rash appears a few days after the onset of the more general symptoms. Fortunately, monkeypox is a much milder illness than smallpox (which had up to a 30% mortality rate). Those at risk for severe cases of monkeypox could include small children, pregnant or breastfeeding women, those with compromised immune systems, and those with certain skin conditions.
What Can You Do to Prevent and/or Treat Monkeypox?
First off, this article will not address current vaccination information. I will leave that in the capable hands of my pharmacy colleagues. Information on that should be available in the coming months.
Whenever there are concerns regarding vulnerability to any potential infection, it is wise to first look to stabilizing and supporting your innate and adaptive immune system(s). In botanical/natural medicine, we don’t necessarily treat specific diseases or disease states (diagnoses); rather we treat and support the individual and what is manifesting for them. Each situation and person is differentiated. However, some fundamental practices will support and protect everyone, no matter the situation. The basics would include a nourishing diet, consistent healthy sleep hygiene, appropriate moderate exercise, and maintaining a healthy balance between activity and rest; keeping stress balanced.
Foundational Immune Supporting Supplements
Probiotics- it is well established that a healthy gut biome is a key to a healthy immune response (2). Maintaining healthy strains is fundamental to not only immunity but multiple health functions.
ImmunoWell RX- this well-rounded immunity-building and supportive botanical formula is very popular here at Remedy. Taken prophylactically (2 caps per day), it creates overall protection. It can also be taken for acute situations by taking it more frequently throughout the day.
Vitamin D3- Shown to be crucial for an adequate immune response (3). Keeping your D3 numbers at an optimal level is fundamental to shoring up the immune response.
Immucare- A potent immune system tonic beneficial to those who have a challenge in this area (supports all facets of immunity- blood quality, endocrine, digestion,etc). It can be helpful to anyone who wants to really bolster their immune responses.
Resveratrol- This impactful antioxidant is very much in the center of discussion regarding the prevention of Monkey Pox (4). It can only help, since it is already well established for immune support (5), and has multiple benefits!
Medicinal Mushrooms- Well known and researched heavy hitters regarding overall immune support. Check out this article for more information.
Support of Common Acute Symptoms of MonkeyPox
For the typical fever, body aches, chills, etc., that often comes with a flu-like viral infection, a product like Flew Away could be just the ticket. Please ask a staff member exactly how to take this effectively.
When dealing with lymph involvement (swollen glands/sore throat/pain with swallowing), a great choice would be Throat and Gland, since it offers both potent antiviral herbs and also addresses glandular involvement. Hence, it has a double impact for this particular virus. Another option specific for lymph issues is Lymph Tonic, which could also serve as a preventative if you typically have lymph challenges.It would be particularly synergistic if combined with Immunowell RX, which can also be helpful for overall viral symptoms with dosing for an acute situation.
Lastly, I have had good results from a blend of three herbal tinctures- valerian, burdock, and echinacea, taken orally for the relief of these types of skin issues. I have used it for children, as well as adults. If you need advice about how to blend and use these, please ask us.
Topical Support to Deal with Skin Inflammation
When dealing with the rash, which can be very uncomfortable, here are a few ideas, (which could be combined for maximal comfort):
- Cool compresses can relieve the inflammation and irritation that can come with this virus. You could make an herbal poultice version as well using calming herbs like calendula.
- Oatmeal baths can be very soothing and comforting for irritated, itchy skin. Try our new Soothing Coconut Milk Bath powder for a next level oatmeal bath
- Calming creams like a calendula cream which is very cooling, and healing, for any kind of skin irritation. This one is a tried and true staple here. Florasone homeopathic cream is designed to relieve itches and rashes, and is very effective as an alternative to OTC or RX steroid creams.
- Clay Honey Paste made of green clay (which is particularly cooling/healing) combined with aloe gel could be very helpful. In addition, using quality, fresh, raw honey helps to calm inflammation, reduce the risk for scarring, and promote faster healing (6).
Anne’s Clay Honey Calming Paste
- 1 part green clay (rose or white clay can be used alternatively, like this blend)
- 1 part organic pure aloe gel, like this one
- 1 part local raw honey, like this one, slightly warmed.
- Mask mixing set or small bowl and clean fingertips
- Wash hands. Combine all ingredients in a dish. Mix well.
- Coat the infected skin area with a thin layer using a mask brush or fingertips. Let the honey paste soak into the skin for at least 15 minutes.
- Wash hands.
- You can do this two to three times daily.
Per usual, we are here to assist you in figuring out what you need assistance with. As mentioned before, one size does not fit all, and we are more than happy to guide you through your particular needs. Should you want more comprehensive help, a personal consultation would be your best bet!
- Moore MJ, Rathish B, Zahra F. Monkeypox. [Updated 2022 Jul 16]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-.
- Yan F, Polk DB. Probiotics and immune health. Curr Opin Gastroenterol. 2011 Oct;27(6):496-501. doi: 10.1097/MOG.0b013e32834baa4d. PMID: 21897224; PMCID: PMC4006993.
- Di Rosa M, Malaguarnera M, Nicoletti F, Malaguarnera L. Vitamin D3: a helpful immuno-modulator. Immunology. 2011 Oct;134(2):123-39. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2567.2011.03482.x. PMID: 21896008; PMCID: PMC3194221.
- Cao S, Realegeno S, Pant A, Satheshkumar PS, Yang Z. Suppression of Poxvirus Replication by Resveratrol. Front Microbiol. 2017 Nov 17;8:2196. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2017.02196. PMID: 29204136; PMCID: PMC5698801.
- Malaguarnera L. Influence of Resveratrol on the Immune Response. Nutrients. 2019 Apr 26;11(5):946. doi: 10.3390/nu11050946. PMID: 31035454; PMCID: PMC6566902.
- Yaghoobi R, Kazerouni A, Kazerouni O. Evidence for Clinical Use of Honey in Wound Healing as an Anti-bacterial, Anti-inflammatory Antioxidant and Anti-viral Agent: A Review. Jundishapur J Nat Pharm Prod. 2013 Aug;8(3):100-4. doi: 10.17795/jjnpp-9487. Epub 2013 Jul 17. PMID: 24624197; PMCID: PMC3941901.