Cannabidiol’s antiviral and anti-inflammatory capabilities may help alleviate symptoms of the herpes simplex virus. CBD has been mentioned by several studies as a potential antiviral agent. Its widespread use makes people wonder if they can use CBD oil effectively for herpes and its symptoms. Let’s find out. The present investigation was undertaken to determine whether delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol (delta 9-THC) decreases host resistance to herpes simplex virus type 2 vaginal infection in the guinea pig. The guinea pig was selected as the host since it has been shown to express a spectrum of primary herp …
CBD Oil for Herpes – August 2022
CBD has antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties, which may be helpful in alleviating the symptoms of herpes (5 ) .
A study in 2017 found that cannabidiol exhibited antiviral activity that counteracted viral hepatitis C (6 ) . CBD was able to hinder the replication of the virus significantly.
In 2020, the journal Digestive Diseases and Sciences published a study that analyzed the use of CBD in more than three hundred patients with autoimmune hepatitis. The researchers learned that most of the subjects reported improvements in their symptoms after CBD consumption (7 ) .
CBD ‘s antiviral activity was also observed in a study on Kaposi sarcoma (8 ) . Kaposi sarcoma, a disorder that causes skin lesions, is prevalent in individuals with immune deficiencies.
Researchers also learned that cannabidiol suppresses the inflammatory reaction of allergic contact dermatitis (9 ) , a skin rash triggered by an allergic reaction.
This action indicates that CBD may be used to treat cold sores from herpes by inhibiting its infectious growth.
Despite the positive outlook, there are no clinical trials directly involving the use of CBD on patients with the herpes simplex virus .
How CBD Oil Works to Help with Herpes
Cannabidiol is thought to engage with cannabinoid receptors of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) (10 ) . The ECS is a unique part of the body that regulates various functions, including internal homeostasis.
CBD ‘s ability to bind with both CB1 and CB2 receptors is thought to bring about its anti-inflammatory actions (11 ) .
In one study, researchers learned that CBD binds with the CB1 receptor (12 ) .
Researchers in 2014 found that the antiviral effect of a substance that binds to CB1 receptors was able to inhibit hepatitis C replication. They hinted that these receptors might be therapeutic targets for antiviral agents (13 ) .
CB2 receptors, which are mainly expressed in cells of the immune system , are said to influence viral infections by altering host immune response toward inflammation (14 ) .
Since CBD also engages with the CB2 receptor, the compound may be administered to activate the receptor and contribute in controlling viral infections .
The Pros and Cons of CBD Oil for Herpes
- CBD could potentially alleviate the symptoms of the herpes simplex virus . Studies have shown that cannabidiol exerts anti-inflammatory properties (15 ) that could benefit patients with viral infections , like herpes.
- Researchers discovered that CBD engages with cannabinoid receptors (16 ) , which could be the compound’s mechanism of action for its antiviral activity.
- Compared to other cannabinoids , CBD reportedly has a strong safety profile and does not induce psychotropic effects upon use (17 ) .
- The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) acknowledges the potential of cannabis and its derivatives (18 ) . The agency also supports scientific-based research with regard to the medicinal uses of cannabis.
- The 2018 Farm Bill legalized the cultivation of industrial hemp in the United States. Restrictions concerning the transport, sale, and possession of hemp-derived products have also been lifted (19 ) .
- No direct studies concerning the effectiveness of cannabidiol in treating herpes simplex virus symptoms exist.
- There are possible side effects when using CBD . The most cited adverse reactions from clinical studies include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and decreased appetite (20 ) .
- Due to the complex process by which cannabidiol engages with the body, it could potentially interact with other medications and cause adverse events (21 ) .
- Many CBD products sold online are not labeled accurately due to inadequate regulations and oversight (22 ) . Users who wish t o buy cannabidiol on the internet are at risk of purchasing mislabeled goods.
How CBD Oil Compares to Alternative Treatments for Herpes
A study in 2006 mentioned that treatments with natural substances, such as lysine, vitamin C, and lemon balm, might be useful in reducing herpes simplex lesions or preventing its recurrences (23 ) .
Lysine supplementation reaching doses that exceed 3 grams per day improved the symptoms of herpes patients (24 ) .
In a combination treatment involving ascorbic acid, herpes patients reportedly experienced a reduction in symptom severity and recurrences.
The subjects, who took the supplement within forty-eight hours of symptom onset, did not develop the characteristic lesions of the virus (25 ) .
Meanwhile, lemon balm oil was found to exert a direct antiviral effect on herpesviruses . Researchers concluded that the essential oil might also be used as a topical treatment for herpetic infections (26 ) .
CBD works the same way as these natural elements in that it also provides antiviral activity when applied.
Several brands sell CBD products with lemon balm and vitamin C. These items are usually available in the form of syrups, tinctures , and gummies.
How to Choose the Right CBD for Herpes
Three forms of cannabidiol are available for purchase. These are the CBD isolates, broad-spectrum, and full-spectrum.
CBD isolate is the purest type of cannabidiol . Isolates undergo an extraction process wherein only CBD remains in the final output.
People who only wish to take cannabidiol often choose CBD isolates because of their purity. Isolates usually come in crystal or powdered form and do not have a distinct taste.
Broad-spectrum CBD is the type that contains all of the compounds of cannabis plants . The only exception is that it does not have tetrahydrocannabinol ( THC ).
THC is a psychotropic substance that causes mind-altering effects when consumed. Some individuals prefer not to take products that have THC because of its psychoactive properties.
While the main components of medical cannabis ( medical marijuana) are CBD and THC , the substance that is responsible for the “high” is THC.
The third variant of CBD is called full-spectrum. This type of CBD provides users with all of the phytocannabinoids that can be extracted from marijuana, including THC .
Full-spectrum CBD is known for the mechanism known as the “entourage effect.” This effect occurs when all the cannabis compounds are taken together (27 ) .
No matter the type of cannabidiol one decides to purchase, it is important to select the best quality products to maximize the benefits of CBD .
The following tips can help users choose the best CBD oil for herpes:
- Organic, non-GMO hemp is the best source to obtain high-quality CBD oil . Industrial hemp plants have large amounts of cannabidiol and only small amounts of THC .
- Request or obtain the certificate of analysis (COA) of a chosen CBD product . This document is a report indicating that the item has gone through proper testing while containing the exact specifications on its label.
- Read testimonials of products and brands before purchasing from an online CBD shop. When buying from a physical store, see if they have the authorization to sell CBD .
- Make sure to check the legalities concerning CBD in the area where one wishes to obtain and use the compound.
- Talk to a healthcare professional to avoid complications. For those using certain medications, a doctor may know of any prescribed drug that could interact with CBD .
CBD Dosage for Herpes
There is no official guide on the proper CBD dosage that could be used for herpes symptoms.
The FDA does not approve of any other marketing application for CBD . Epidiolex, a treatment for seizures, is the only CBD product approved by the agency (28 ) .
Although there is no data on proper dosage, one may look at past clinical trials to see what dose range worked for human subjects.
In one study, 300 mg to 600 mg of CBD was found to help decrease anxiety in clinical participants (29 ) .
Another study mentioned that the chronic use of CBD and high doses reaching as much as 1,500 mg per day was found to be well-tolerated in humans (30 ) .
How to Take CBD Oil for Herpes
People with herpes may find applying CBD in topical form helpful in alleviating the pain and discomfort during herpes outbreaks .
Topical CBD , such as salves, lip balms , and CBD creams, allow individuals to administer the compound directly to affected areas.
For users who wish to control their CBD oil doses , tinctures are available for sublingual application. CBD tinctures are perhaps the most popular delivery format for cannabidiol .
Inhaling vaporized cannabidiol is also another form of taking CBD . However, vaping is not recommended as it is often associated with acute lung disease (31 ) .
Sublingual application and vaping are the two fastest ways to administer CBD in the body.
CBD intake by way of the sublingual route is preferred when one wishes for the compound to take effect immediately (32 ) .
Likewise, inhaled CBD allows it to be delivered quickly and efficiently because of high bioavailability (33 ) . Bioavailability is the amount of substance that is absorbed by the body successfully.
CBD sold as gummies, brownies, tablets, and gummies are the most direct way to take the compound. Oral cannabidiol is ideal for those who travel or do not have the time to apply CBD topically.
What is Herpes?
Herpes simplex, commonly known as herpes, is a viral infection generally characterized by having a cold sore or fever blister . It is caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV).
The two types of herpes are HSV-1 ( herpes simplex 1 ) and HSV-2 ( herpes simplex 2 ) (34 ) .
HSV-1 is primarily transmitted by oral contact, leading to oral herpes . The HSV-2 type is an infection often transmitted during sex, resulting in genital herpes . However, HSV-1 can infect the genitals and HSV-2 can infect the lips.
The Herpes simplex virus may be passed on from the mouth to the genitals through oral sex.
A person that has contracted the herpes virus remains infected for life, although it tends to go dormant over time. Most people have it and don’t even know it. Herpes simplex usually stays dormant in an individual but can reactivate and cause blisters .
The herpes virus is similar to the varicella-zoster virus, which is linked to shingles . Both types of virus remain dormant in the body until it reactivates.
Shingles is a reactivation of the virus that causes chickenpox , which causes painful rashes.
Experts do not fully understand what triggers the recurrence of herpes, but it is often associated with several factors. Emotional stress, illness, and fever are the most commonly mentioned (35 ) .
Symptoms of Herpes
In many cases, people who contract the herpes simplex virus are unaware that they have the condition. The following are the symptoms that a person with herpes may experience:
- Burning, itching, or tingling – Before breakouts, a person may have a tingling, itching, or burning sensation on the area of their skin where the blisters appear.
- Sores – Fluid-filled sores may show up around the lips, genital areas, and mucous membranes inside the mouth.
Herpes sores appear when the infected cell tissues are not thoroughly eliminated by immunoregulatory white blood cells of the immune system .
- Flu-like symptoms – Experiencing swollen lymph nodes, fever, and muscle aches are possible.
- Pain when urinating – People with genital herpes , usually women, may have difficulties urinating.
- Eye infection (herpes keratitis) – In some instances, the virus can spread to the eyes, leading to pain, sensitivity, and discharge.
The very first outbreak of herpes is usually the worst, but not all of them are severe. Some individuals may experience very mild symptoms that they barely notice having the condition.
Healthy people with herpes simplex rarely experience serious complications. Those with the highest risk of complications are unborn babies, newborns, and individuals with weak immune systems .
Treatments for Herpes
Although herpes simplex cannot be cured, some medications can be taken to relieve symptoms and shorten herpes outbreaks .
Most individuals are prescribed antiviral medicine. Over-the-counter antiviral topicals may be applied to the genital areas for pain relief.
The most common antiviral drugs for both forms of herpes are acyclovir ( Zovirax ), famciclovir , and valacyclovir . Daily intake of these herpes medications can significantly decrease the frequency and severity of outbreaks (36 ) .
However, individuals can experience side effects when taking these drugs. Irritability, lack of appetite, tiredness, and trouble sleeping are common adverse reactions.
Studies on PubMed ( NCBI ) revealed that cannabidiol has antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties that may help people infected with the herpes simplex virus .
CBD was found to have immune-suppression capabilities based on how it worked in a study on allergic contact dermatitis.
CBD exhibited its antiviral activity in a study on viral hepatitis C. Researchers learned that the cannabis compound significantly inhibited the replication of the virus during trials.
Cannabidiol was also found to exert antiviral effects in a study concerning Kaposi sarcoma, a condition that caused skin lesions.
These studies provide hints that CBD may be used to help treat the skin lesions and other symptoms of a herpes outbreak .
Despite the positive studies on the compound, there is no clinical evidence to prove that CBD can cure herpes. More studies are needed to confirm if cannabidiol benefits people with herpes.
CBD use is legal in most states in America. People can purchase CBD products from online stores and physical dispensaries, even without a doctor’s prescription.
The two main components of medical cannabis are CBD and THC . Delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol is the compound that causes psychotropic effects.
Those who are interested in applying CBD in their daily regimen should consult a doctor to avoid complications.
CBD Oil for Herpes: Can It Help Prevent Breakouts and Cold Sores?
The majority of people have herpes. As a matter of fact, around 66% of the general population has the Herpes Simplex 1 virus, and approximately 12% have the Herpes Simplex 2 virus, both of which can result in painful and embarrassing breakouts in the oral and genital areas.
If you have active sores, you know how uncomfortable and painful they are. It’s perfectly understandable that you want to clear them up as quickly as possible.
Research shows that CBD has antiviral properties that could effectively prevent herpes breakouts and help reduce cold sores. A lot of people use CBD to fight skin conditions, even those deriving from viral infections. In this article, we’ll cover the herpes virus in detail — and explain the potential benefits of CBD treatments.
Ready to clear up active sores and suppress future breakouts? Continue reading!
Does CBD Oil Prevent Herpes Attacks?
There is some evidence, although not direct, that CBD can prevent herpes attacks. Most herpes medications act as either antiviral or anti-inflammatory. Both qualities have been repeatedly mentioned by the studies exploring the health benefits of CBD in humans (2).
A herpes outbreak is more likely to occur during an illness such as the cold or flu, or during prolonged periods of intense stress, or as a result of taking immune-suppressants. Once the virus turns from its dormant to the active stage, it is attacking cell tissues in mucous membranes, which is why outbreaks most commonly appear in moist mucosal areas in the mouth and genitals.
The cells affected by the virus become severely damaged, triggering immunoregulatory white blood cells to fight the aftermath of the attack. The said activity causes inflammation and pain, swelling, and manifests in the form of herpes sores and blisters.
CBD works in the body by interacting with the endocannabinoid system (ECS). According to Dr. Dustin Sulak of the American Academy of Cannabinoid Medicine, “the ECS is the most important physiological system involved in establishing and maintaining human health.” The ECS has its receptors throughout the body; they occur in virtually every system and organ, including the cells of the immune system (3)
Studies show that CBD binds to the CB2 receptors in the immune cells, modulating the immune response. In other words, when the immune system is weakened due to an illness or the use of immunosuppressants, CBD oil may enhance the activity of immune cells and bolster their functioning. On the other hand, a hyperactive immune system can be tuned down to its normal states upon CBD’s interaction with the ECS. According to researchers, CBD can also reduce the production of proinflammatory cytokines (4). The above actions may contribute to the effective prevention of herpes attacks.
How to Use CBD for Herpes?
Depending on how you want to use CBD oil for herpes, certain products may be more effective than others.
For example, if you want to prevent herpes breakouts, you’ll probably go with an oral or sublingual form of CBD, such as oils or capsules. People looking for the fastest relief from their symptoms often choose CBD vaporizer pens due to their high bioavailability and almost immediate onset. When you ingest CBD, either way, it interacts with the ECS and reaches the CB2 receptors in the immune system, producing its anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory effects.
For herpes breakouts and other localized problems, we recommend using a CBD topical such as CBD cream, gel, balm, or lotion. CBD topicals are formulated to provide targeted relief through a different mechanism. The skin has its own endocannabinoid system, with CB2 receptors highly concentrated in the epidermis layer. Once CBD binds to these receptors, it can provide relief from soreness in the affected area. That’s why there are so many CBD products for skincare out there
Full-spectrum vs Isolate: Which Form of CBD Oil Is Better for Herpes?
CBD is one of over 100 compounds categorized as cannabinoids. Other important chemical compounds that can boost the health benefits of CBD are:
- THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol)
- CBG (cannabigerol)
- CBN (cannabinol)
These cannabinoids, in combination with terpenes, contribute to the entourage effect, or the whole-plant synergy. This concept describes synergistic effects between all naturally occurring compounds in hemp. Researchers investigating the entourage effect have concluded that cannabinoids and terpenes are more effective together than in isolation — providing higher overall potency of hemp extracts and more predictable dosing.
Do’s and Don’ts of Using CBD for Herpes
- Purchase high-quality full-spectrum CBD from organic hemp.
- Combine CBD oil with a topical treatment.
- Gradually work your way up to an effective dose.
- Give yourself some time; sometimes CBD may need around 2 weeks to fix your cannabinoid deficiencies.
- Don’t expect wonders overnight. Although CBD is a versatile compound, it’s not a magical pill and sometimes needs time to develop its full potential.
- Don’t buy cheap, untested CBD oils. The market is flooded with mislabeled products that contain little to no CBD at all. Some of them are downright dangerous and may even make your herpes symptoms worse.
- Don’t use synthetic additives in CBD topicals. Parabens, sulfates, synthetic perfumes, and other irritants can reduce the benefits of CBD oil for herpes, let alone their own side effects.
Can I Put CBD Oil on Cold Sores?
Yes, you can put CBD oil or CBD cream on a cold sore to reduce inflammation and pain associated with herpes breakouts. Researchers evaluated the anti-inflammatory properties of cannabinoids and concluded that CBD topicals were effective at lowering inflammation of the skin. CBD reduces itchiness, puffiness, soreness, and redness that are common among skin conditions such as cold sores, psoriasis, acne, eczema, and rosacea.
What You Need to Know About Herpes?
There’s a lot of confusion surrounding herpes and the viruses that cause it. For most people, the question remains: are oral herpes (cold sores) and genital herpes the same?
In a way, yes and no…
Here are some of the most common questions people ask about herpes.
What is Herpes?
Herpes is a virus. Most of the time it remains in its dormant state in the cell bodies of the oral and genital areas. However, triggers like stress and diseases (which can weaken the immune system, can cause unpleasant flare-ups. This manifests in the stereotypical blisters and sores.
Is There Only One Type of the Herpes Virus?
There are two types of herpes: HSV Type 1 and HSV Type 2. HSV-1 is the more common form of the virus and produces the common cold sore. HSV-2 is a less common form and causes breakouts in the genital region.
How do You Get Herpes?
Herpes transmission is possible through saliva (sharing drinks, kissing, and oral sex), or direct skin-to-skin contact.
Can HSV-1 Cause Genital Herpes? Can HSV-2 Cause Oral Herpes?
Yes, genital herpes can be easily transmitted from someone with oral herpes. In a similar fashion, a person can get oral herpes from someone with genital herpes. According to statistics, up to 50% of genital herpes cases derive from the HSV-1 virus. The only way to determine which form of the virus you have is to do a mouth swab test and take it to a laboratory for content analysis.
What Are the Symptoms of Herpes?
People who often contact the herpes simplex virus are unaware that they have it. That’s because the virus stays in its inactive form most of the time. Below you’ll find the symptoms that individuals with herpes may experience (1):
- Sores – fluid-filled sores may show up around the lips, mucous membranes inside the mouth, and genital areas.
- Burning, itching, or tingling – shortly before a breakout, a person may experience tingling, itching, or burning sensation on the area of their skin where the cold sore is about to appear.
Hemp sores show up when the infected cell tissues are not thoroughly destroyed by immunoregulatory white blood cells of the immune system. Aside from the above symptoms, a person with herpes may have the following reactions:
- Pain when urinating – individuals with genital herpes, more often women than men, may feel discomfort while urinating.
- Flu-like symptoms – when the herpes virus turns active, you may experience fever, muscle aches, and swollen lymph nodes.
- Eye infection (herpes keratitis) – in rare cases, the virus can affect the eyes, resulting in sensitivity, pain, and discharge.
The severity of herpes outbreaks varies between one attack and another, but the very first outbreak is usually the worst. Some people may experience very mild symptoms and may barely notice the condition. Healthy people with herpes simplex are less likely to experience serious complications. The group of high risk includes newborns, babies, and individuals with weak immune systems.
How Long Does Herpes Last?
The herpes breakout can last between 3–7 days, but the virus itself will stay with you for life once you have it. However, most of the time the virus is in the dormant stage, meaning it lies inactive in cell bodies. Most people who have herpes aren’t even aware of it until the flare-ups occur.
Is the Virus Always Contagious?
Unfortunately, the herpes virus is highly contagious, but only in the event of viral shedding. Viral shedding refers to the progeny that the herpes virus releases upon reproduction. There’s a higher risk of catching the virus during a breakout than while dormant, but it’s possible to contract HSV from a person with no visible symptoms.
Conventional Herpes Treatments
Although herpes simplex stays with you forever once you’ve caught it, some medications can be taken to address symptoms and combat herpes outbreaks. Most people are recommended antiviral medicine combined with over-the-counter antiviral topicals applied to oral and genital areas for pain relief.
The most commonly prescribed antiviral for herpes is acyclovir (Zovirax), famciclovir, and valacyclovir. Daily use of these anti-herpes medications can considerably reduce the frequency and severity of outbreaks.
However, antiviral medications can cause side effects, such as irritability, loss of appetite, trouble sleeping, and tiredness.
Some people choose to take an alternative route and use natural complementary treatments besides CBD. These treatments include lysine, vitamin C, and lemon balm.
According to a 2006 study, lysine supplementations at doses higher than 3 grams per day may improve the symptoms of herpes in patients. The study also used a combination treatment involving ascorbic acid, after which patients reported a reduction in symptom severity and herpes recurrences (6).
Meanwhile, researchers from another study found that lemon balm oil exerted a direct antiviral effect on the herpes virus. The authors concluded that the essential oil might be also beneficial as a topical treatment for viral infections (7).
CBD has similar properties and also provides antiviral activity when applied. CBD oil also has several terpenes with antiviral effects, such as limonene, which is found in citrus fruits.
CBD Dosage for Herpes
There are no official dosage recommendations when it comes to using CBD oil for herpes and its symptoms. The FDA doesn’t regulate the manufacturing standards and labeling of CBD products. Currently, the only FDA-approved medication is Epidiolex, an anti-epileptic drug based on CBD isolate. The agency has promised to fuel more resources into researching the efficacy and safety of hemp-derived CBD products.
That being said, CBD companies often provide their own dosage instructions based on the recommended serving. You can use them as a point of reference. It takes a bit of a trial and error until you find an effective dose for yourself.
CBD is a natural and safe substance. There have been no reports of severe side effects after taking pure CBD oil, even in doses as high as 1,500 mg daily (5).
Final Verdict: Should You Use CBD Oil for Herpes?
Studies on PubMed indicate that CBD has antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties that may help people affected by the herpes simplex virus. CBD can both suppress the immune system’s capabilities and modulate inflammatory response by interacting with the human endocannabinoid system (ECS).
Using that mechanism, CBD may be helpful in preventing herpes breakouts as well as in reducing the severity and recurrence of its symptoms. The best results at using CBD oil for herpes are reported to come from a combination of sublingual and topical formulations. Whichever product you choose for your anti-herpes supplementation, make sure that it contains the full spectrum of cannabinoids and terpenes; doing so will help you maximize the efficacy of your treatment.
Although there have been no studies conducted specifically on CBD and herpes, current evidence is promising and shows the need for clinical trials that would evaluate its efficacy and safety on relevant samples. If you want to take CBD oil for herpes, we encourage you to consult a doctor experienced in natural treatments to find the best dosage for yourself and avoid potential interactions with antiviral medications.
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Livvy is a registered nurse (RN) and board-certified nurse midwife (CNM) in the state of New Jersey. After giving birth to her newborn daughter, Livvy stepped down from her full-time position at the Children’s Hospital of New Jersey. This gave her the opportunity to spend more time writing articles on all topics related to pregnancy and prenatal care.
Effect of delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol on herpes simplex virus type 2 vaginal infection in the guinea pig
The present investigation was undertaken to determine whether delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol (delta 9-THC) decreases host resistance to herpes simplex virus type 2 vaginal infection in the guinea pig. The guinea pig was selected as the host since it has been shown to express a spectrum of primary herpes genitalis which is similar to that in humans. Animals were administered delta 9-THC or vehicle intraperitoneally on Days 1-4, 8-11, and 15-18. Herpes simplex virus was introduced intravaginally on Day 2. Host resistance to virus infection was assessed by comparing frequency and severity of lesions, virus shedding, and animal mortalities. Virus-infected animals treated with drug at doses of 4 and 10 mg/kg exhibited significantly greater severity of genital disease during the 30-day period of study when compared to virus-inoculated vehicle controls. A direct relationship was noted between dose of delta 9-THC and cumulative mortalities on Day 14 following primary infection. These results indicate that delta 9-THC decreases host resistance to herpes simplex virus type 2 vaginal infection in the guinea pig.
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