What Is It?
Every minute of every day, as part of normal metabolic processes, your body produces a substance called adenosine monophosphate (AMP). Think of it as a byproduct of your body’s effort to create energy from the foods you eat.
Interestingly, AMP may help to limit the acute nerve-related pain (known as post-herpetic neuralgia, or PHN) that sometimes follows a bout of shingles, a skin rash caused by the herpes zoster virus. The premise here is that people with persistent shingles-related pain may have low concentrations of AMP in their systems, and that boosting these AMP levels through intramuscular injections can promote faster clearance of the shingles virus–and faster relief from PHN pain.
Many nutritionally oriented doctors consider AMP injections a worthwhile strategy to speed healing and to treat post-herpetic neuralgia, especially in cases of unremitting pain. A special gel form of AMP is produced for the doctor-administered shots.
In a notable double-blind study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) several years ago, investigators reported that three AMP injections a week given over the course of a month relieved PHN pain more quickly than a placebo (dummy) injection. The AMP appeared to help the lesions to heal and to prevent further flare-ups.
However, it’s not clear that AMP supplements taken orally will have any effect on shingles pain. The supplement has also been tested for treating photosensitivity (extreme sensitivity to light), but more research is needed before any recommendations can be made.
AMP is sold in an injectable form at a concentration of 25 mg/ml. The physician draws up two syringes, each containing 2 ml of the solution, and injects the contents into the muscles of each upper arm–not into the area of the shingles lesions. The doctor administers these injections every other day for a total of 10 treatments.
AMP can also be administered intravenously by a doctor; in this case, it is mixed with 150 ml of saline and slowly allowed to drip into your system.
There are no known drug or nutrient interactions associated with AMP when given in the gel-formulated injection form. Research in this area is limited, however.
Only doctors familiar with the use of AMP should give you these injections.
With intramuscular injections of AMP, some people develop chest pain (but not cardiac-related pain) due to the tightening of the muscles of the chest wall. This reaction can usually be prevented by spacing the two injections 30 minutes apart.
When intravenous solutions are given too rapidly, there is a risk for shortness of breath and dangerous heartbeat irregularities. If these occur, the administration should be stopped and restarted at a slower rate.
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David Edelberg, MD