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 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. Could using CBD oil for herpes help clear up active outbreaks? In this article, we take a medically-backed look at CBD, herpes, and its potential effects.
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.
Mishkin EM, Cabral GA. Mishkin EM, et al. J Gen Virol. 1985 Dec;66 ( Pt 12):2539-49. doi: 10.1099/0022-1317-66-12-2539. J Gen Virol. 1985. PMID: 2999306
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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.
- Crimi, Salvatore et al. “Herpes Virus, Oral Clinical Signs and QoL: Systematic Review of Recent Data.” Viruses vol. 11,5 463. 21 May. 2019, doi:10.3390/v11050463
- Corroon, Jamie, and Joy A Phillips. “A Cross-Sectional Study of Cannabidiol Users.” Cannabis and cannabinoid research vol. 3,1 152-161. 1 Jul. 2018, doi:10.1089/can.2018.0006
- Russo, Ethan B. “Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency Reconsidered: Current Research Supports the Theory in Migraine, Fibromyalgia, Irritable Bowel, and Other Treatment-Resistant Syndromes.” Cannabis and cannabinoid research vol. 1,1 154-165. 1 Jul. 2016, doi:10.1089/can.2016.0009
- Atalay, Sinemyiz et al. “Antioxidative and Anti-Inflammatory Properties of Cannabidiol.” Antioxidants (Basel, Switzerland) vol. 9,1 21. 25 Dec. 2019, doi:10.3390/antiox9010021
- Iffland, Kerstin, and Franjo Grotenhermen. “An Update on Safety and Side Effects of Cannabidiol: A Review of Clinical Data and Relevant Animal Studies.” Cannabis and cannabinoid research vol. 2,1 139-154. 1 Jun. 2017, doi:10.1089/can.2016.0034
- Gaby, Alan R. “Natural remedies for Herpes simplex.” Alternative medicine review: a journal of clinical therapeutics vol. 11,2 (2006): 93-101.
- Schnitzler, P et al. “Melissa officinalis oil affects infectivity of enveloped herpesviruses.” Phytomedicine: international journal of phytotherapy and phytopharmacology vol. 15,9 (2008): 734-40. doi:10.1016/j.phymed.2008.04.018
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.
CBD for Herpes: Can it Help Clear up Outbreaks?
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Guess what – you probably have herpes. Even if you don’t have any active sores, it’s estimated that approximately 66% of the general population is carrying the Herpes Simplex 1 virus, and approximately 12% is carrying the Herpes Simplex 2 virus, both of which can lead to painful and unsightly breakouts in the oral and genital regions.
What if you do have active sores? Well, we know how incredibly uncomfortable, painful, and embarrassing they can be. We fully understand the need to clear them up as quickly and efficiently as possible.
As it turns out, CBD may be an effective remedy for herpes breakouts. However, it is one that a lot of people have never heard of and would never think of trying. In this article, we’ll talk about what exactly the Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) is and how CBD works to both clear up active sores and helps to prevent and suppress breakouts in the future.
The Herpes Simplex Virus: What Is It, Exactly?
There are a lot of misconceptions surrounding herpes and the virus(es) that cause it. Namely, most people want to know whether or not oral herpes (cold sores) and genital herpes are the same.
Yes and no, as it turns out.
In order to quickly and efficiently clear up some of the common myths and inconsistencies surrounding the virus, here’s a short FAQ on all things HSV:
Herpes is a virus, plain and simple. The vast majority of the time it lies dormant in cell bodies in the oral and genital regions. However, things like stress and illness (which suppress the immune system) can cause the virus to flare up. This produces the stereotypical sores and blisters.
- How many different types of herpes are there?
Generally speaking there are two kinds of herpes; HSV Type 1 and HSV Type 2. HSV-1 is by far the more common form of the virus and is the one usually responsible for the common cold sore.
HSV-2 is less common and is the one primarily responsible for breakouts in the genital region.
- Can HSV-1 cause genital herpes? And can HSV-2 cause oral herpes (cold sores)?
Yes – via oral sex, a person can easily get genital herpes from someone with oral herpes (HSV-1). Likewise, a person can get oral herpes from someone with a genital (HSV-2) infection. In fact, it’s estimated that up to 50% of genital herpes cases arise from HSV Type-1 virus. The only way to know which form of the virus is causing lesions is to do a swab and have a laboratory type it.
- How long does herpes last? Does it ever go away?
Unfortunately, once you have HSV, you have it for life; there is no cure. However, the vast majority of the time the virus is in the latent stage, which means it lies dormant in cell bodies. This is why most people who have the virus aren’t even aware of it. When flare-ups do occur, they typically only last a few days.
- Is herpes always contagious?
The herpes virus is highly contagious, but only when the virus is shedding. Viral shedding refers to the progeny that a virus releases when it reproduces.
While contagiousness is much higher during an active breakout, viruses can (and do) shed while dormant. Thus it is entirely possible to contract HSV from someone with no active symptoms.
Herpes is transferred either through saliva (kissing, oral sex, sharing drinks), or direct skin to skin contact.
Conventional Herpes Treatments (Not CBD)
The majority of people with active herpes breakouts simply let the body’s immune system take care of it. The sores generally clear up within several days. However, in instances of severe or especially unsightly/painful breakouts, it is sometimes necessary to seek treatment.
Some common household herpes remedies have included things such as:
- OTC painkillers for pain/soreness relief (acetaminophen, ibuprofen)
- Soaking in salt/sitz baths
- Lip balms with lemon balm or lemon tea compresses
- Natural herbs like rhubarb, sage, peppermint, mint, and witch hazel oils
- Licorice root or licorice powder mixed with water or petroleum jelly (licorice root is a natural antiviral)
- Lysine creams/supplements or echinacea tea/supplements (both are immune-enhancers)
- Milk (which contains lysine and antibodies)
- Vitamin E (oils, ointments) and Vitamin E-rich foods
- Vitamin C and Vitamin C-rich foods (which boost the immune/infection-fighting cells)
There’s also no shortage of over-the-counter cold sore remedies, which include things like medicated ointments (Blistex, Carmex, etc), zinc oxide creams, Orajel (a numbing cream), and Zilactin.
In the most severe cases (or in instances where the sores last longer than a couple of weeks), some doctors will recommend pharmaceutical medications. Acyclovir (Zovirax, Sitavig) is probably the most common herpes prescription medicine. It acts as an antiviral treatment to suppress the actual HSV virus.
Other treatments include drugs like Valtrex and Famvir, which are also both antivirals that act to suppress the activity of HSV. While effective, these medications can cause side effects such as extreme fatigue, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Living With Herpes
Though uncomfortable, embarrassing, unsightly, and painful, HSV is not a particularly debilitating virus. As we said, the vast majority of the human population will live their entire lives with it. Many will not ever know it’s even there.
That being said, the presence of either form of the HSV virus can pose a risk of developing other, more serious conditions. Some of these include meningitis, chickenpox (Herpes Zoster virus), Bell’s palsy, and encephalitis. However, these instances are rare and usually only develop in cases where the individual’s immune system is suppressed or compromised.
CBD for Herpes: How It Works
As you’ve probably noticed, all forms of herpes medication act as either an antiviral or an anti-inflammatory. CBD can act as both an antiviral and an anti-inflammatory agent.
A herpes outbreak typically occurs during an illness such as the cold or flu or during heightened periods of emotional stress, menstruation, or immune-suppression caused by other medications. What’s happening is the virus is actively attacking cell tissues in mucous membranes. This is why outbreaks most commonly occur in moist mucosal regions in the mouth and genital areas.
When the virus attacks the surrounding tissue, the cells become severely damaged. This triggers immunoregulatory white blood cells to combat the attack. All of this activity is what causes the pain, inflammation, and physical appearance of herpes sores and blisters.
The cannabinoid functions by interacting with the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS has receptors in every cell and tissue type in the human body. The primary role of the endocannabinoid system is to regulate and maintain internal homeostasis. Dr. Dustin Sulak of the American Academy of Cannabinoid Medicine has gone so far as to call this endogenous network the “…most important physiologic system involved in establishing and maintaining human health.”
CBD for Herpes: The best treatment methods
Antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties have been discovered in all five of the cannabis plant’s most active chemical compounds. These include:
- CBD (cannabidiol) (cannabigerol) (cannabichromene) (cannabinol)
However, CBD is many people’s preferred choice because it does not display any psychoactive properties. That is, it won’t get you high at all.
As far as treatment methods go, many people like to apply infused topical CBD creams and ointments directly to herpes sores. The quickest and most direct use of CBD for herpes, though, is in the form of oil. CBD oils are more potent than creams and are able to pack more CBD molecules in a smaller volume. Therefore, they are able to fend off HSV pathogens and clear up the inflammatory-induced sores and blisters faster.
If using CBD oil for herpes, pay close attention to the product you’re choosing. For the past three years, the FDA has been issuing warning letters to several companies for advertising “CBD oils” that contain little to none of the active cannabinoid. To help ensure that you’re getting a reliable product that actually has pure CBD, we’ve listed a few of the brands below that we consider the most reliable and most reputable over the last several years.