Be careful, because this statistic might shock you: An estimated 70% of people living in the United Kingdom have been infected by the herpes virus. That’s right – it’s more likely than not that you have contracted herpes. However, most people can fight it off with their own immune system, and may never see symptoms.
Then again, some people experience much more severe forms of the infection, suffering irritating and embarrassing symptoms, and these can come back for months or years after you think you have gotten rid of it. Clearly, it is something that people are eager to treat.
With cannabidiol (CBD) being touted as a natural health-booster that could support the immune system, it’s becoming apparent that it might be able to help you feel better in the treatment of herpes. So, let’s take a look at what herpes is and whether CBD may be able to help at all.
What is Herpes?
Herpes, sometimes called genital herpes, is a disease transmitted via the herpes simplex virus. There are actually two types:
- HSV-1 is the most common type, and appears as cold sores on the mouth and lips. Most cases of this are caused during infancy, when a child is kissed by an adult carrying the virus.
- HSV-2 affects the genitals, and is the most commonly talked about form of herpes.
In terms of HSV-2, the virus can be passed on through any kind of sex. HSV-1 can be passed on by sharing things like straws with other people who have been infected. Note, however, that the virus dies very quickly when away from your skin, so you would have to be sharing these very quickly. The herpes simplex affects the skin and mucous membranes around the genitals and sometimes the anus. It usually takes around a week to incubate, but it may be longer.
The first symptom is usually a small blister that bursts to leave a red, open sore. They can appear anywhere on the genitals, anus, thighs or buttocks. Furthermore, you may experience tingling, burning or itching, as well as pain when you pee. Some women may notice an unusual vaginal discharge.
The symptoms eventually clear up by themselves, and you may think that this means you are free. However, an outbreak or recurrence can occur in which the blisters reappear. Whenever the first tingling, itching or sores appear, you are contagious again until the sores have fully healed. Triggers that may reignite the symptoms include:
- Being unwell and having a weakened immune system
- Having a period
- Friction around your genitals (for example, during sex or from wearing tight clothing)
- Ultraviolet light, such as that from sunbeds.
How is Herpes Normally Treated?
Sometimes for your first outbreak you may be prescribed antiviral drugs from a sexual health clinic. These can shorten the length of the outbreak for 1-2 days if you start taking them as soon as symptoms appear. However, outbreaks do tend to settle by themselves. Recurrences tend to be milder, and some people never experience them.
Since there is no cure for herpes, you can only take measures to prevent passing the virus on and to help make things easier for yourself. This includes:
- Keeping the area clean and preventing blisters from becoming infected
- Pouring water over your genitals while you pee to ease the pain
- Avoiding tight clothing that may irritate blisters or sores
- Not touching the blisters or sores unless applying cream
- Avoiding sex until the sores have gone
- Always wearing a condom to prevent spreading the virus.
It is very unfortunate that there is no cure, but you can at least take measures to feel better. So, where could CBD come into this?
Could CBD Help to Cure Herpes?
Cannabidiol is one of the active compounds from the cannabis plant, known as a cannabinoid. This particular cannabinoid has been praised for several potential health benefits. It is able to interact positively with the endocannabinoid system (ECS), an innate system in our body that controls a number of functions from mood all the way to our immune system. By helping the ECS to work properly, CBD supplements could help us to stay fit and healthy.
When a herpes outbreak occurs, the virus is attacking cell tissues in the mucous membranes, causing pain, blisters and inflammation. This is caused in part by white blood cells rushing to the area to combat the attack. White blood cells are part of our immune system, and if CBD can really interact with our immune system through the ECS, then it could help this process to work more effectively.
What’s more, CBD is actually a patented anti-inflammatory in the United States. This means that it could take down the inflammation in the area and lessen any pain caused as a result.
A few studies are being carried out into CBD as an anti-viral. While nothing is yet set in stone, some conclusions have been positive. For example, the Department of Biology at the NYU Cancer Institute published a study in 2010 which suggested phytocannabinoids (those found in plants) were able to help in the fight against persistent infections – like herpes. The study was done on in vitro and in vivo subjects, though, meaning it might not be fully effective on adults; we will have to await more studies.
Whether it is able to “cure” herpes or not, it might be able to support your immune system and make you feel much better.
How Should I Take CBD for Herpes?
There are many different ways to take CBD. New products are popping up all the time, but which way is the best if you have herpes?
Well, topical treatments can be applied to the skin to soothe and ease discomfort. This is ideal during outbreaks, so grab a soothing CBD-infused cream to keep in your cupboard in case of emergency. During the rest of the time, however, you might choose to take CBD oils or capsules. As these are broken down in the blood and digestive system, you can allow the CBD to influence the whole body.
Final Thoughts on CBD and Herpes
While none of the studies so far are conclusive about CBD for herpes specifically, it is generally accepted nowadays that CBD is able to help you and your general health. As a result, there’s really no harm in giving CBD supplements a shot.
If you’re considering trying CBD, check out our reviews here on Greenshoppers to find the perfect brand to suit you.