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In adults, infection by the virus herpes zoster can cause a condition known as shingles. The initial shingles attack generally abates in a couple of weeks, but symptoms can go on to become chronic. This condition is called post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN). Some evidence hints that people with herpes zoster infection may have lower than normal levels of AMP. On this slim basis, AMP has been studied as a possible treatment for initial shingles symptoms as well as for preventing PHN.
In a double-blind, placebo-controlled study of 32 people with shingles, AMP was injected three times a week for 4 weeks. 1 At the end of the 4-week treatment period, 88% of those treated with AMP were pain free versus only 43% in the placebo group; all participants still in pain were then given AMP, and no recurrence of pain was reported in 3 to 18 months of follow-up.
However, this was a preliminary study, and more evidence is needed before AMP can be considered a proven treatment for shingles or PHN. Furthermore, oral AMP has not been tried for this condition. It is questionable whether AMP taken orally actually makes it intact into the body.
Another study found weak evidence that injected AMP might be helpful for cold sores . 2 However, this study was not a double-blind trial; it was an open study , in which the placebo effect and other confounding factors could have played a major role. For that reason, its results cannot be relied upon at all. (For information on why double-blind studies are essential to prove a treatment effective, see Why Does This Database Rely on Double-blind Studies? )
Another open study hints that AMP, this time in an oral form, might be helpful for people with excessive sensitivity to the sun ( photosensitivity ) associated with a condition called porphyria cutanea tarda. 3
- Sklar SH, Blue WT, Alexander EJ, et al. Herpes zoster. The treatment and prevention of neuralgia with adenosine monophosphate. JAMA. 1985;253:1427–30.
- Sklar SH, Buimovici-Klein E. Adenosine in the treatment of recurrent herpes labialis. Oral Surg Oral Med Oral Pathol. 48(5):416-7.
- Gajdos A. AMP in porphyria cutanea tarda [letter]. Lancet. 1974;I:163.