Combatting Herpes With Medical Marijuana

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What Is Herpes?

Herpes comes in two forms: Type 1, which is oral herpes, and Type 2, which is genital herpes. Herpes in both forms cycles between dormant and active periods. The active phases of the condition leads to a breakout of sores; they’re commonly brought on by periods of stress, illness, lack of sleep or some other event that exacerbates the condition. Herpes sores can be painful and can also cause other pain associated with urination or itching.

With no cure available, herpes can be transmitted through contact—typically sexual—with another infected person. Most commonly, it’s transmitted during active outbreaks, but can also be spread from someone who’s asymptomatic. It’s often thought that herpes can only be transmitted sexually, but, in its oral form, it can be also be transmitted through kissing or even from sharing drinks.

How Can Cannabis Help Herpes Sufferers?

Cannabis can help herpes sufferers in a variety of ways. Medical marijuana can help decrease anxiety surrounding everyday life or big events, which can often trigger outbreaks. Different cannabinoids have different effects on anxiety, with cannabidiol (CBD) appearing to be the most effective at reducing anxiety.

A 2011 study published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology showed that CBD greatly decreased the symptoms experienced by people with social anxiety disorder. CBD also has anti-inflammatory effects that can help decrease the severity and pain caused by a herpes outbreak.

Physiological measures, like blood pressure and heart rate, as well as personal evaluations showed greatly decreased levels of anxiety in patients who were administered CBD during a public speaking test compared to those who had taken a placebo. The anxiety-reducing effects in CBD can help decrease the frequency or severity of outbreaks, especially leading up to important events that often cause increased levels of stress.

Meanwhile, pain experienced by people with herpes is often neuropathic in nature, a kind of pain that cannabis is particularly effective at targeting. A study by the University of California at Davis found that tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) can greatly reduce neuropathic pain experienced by patients. It was found that 61 people given a mild dose of THC (3.53%) and 57 people given a low dose of THC (1.29%) experienced a 30% or greater reduction in pain intensity. Researchers concluded that THC has great analgesic effects on neuropathic pain.

Research Finds Cannabis Is Effective in Combatting Herpes

Some preliminary studies have found that THC may even change how the body responds to the herpes virus. THC appears to be able to modulate the body’s immune response to help counter the spread of herpes. This particular cannabinoid may help inhibit the synthesis of glycoproteins, which helps with the maturation and spread of the virus.

This means that cannabis may actually help decrease the virus’s viability and reduce its spread by up to 80%. Though more research is needed to confirm these findings, the current research indicates that THC may interfere with viral replication. CBD’s anti-microbial properties may also potentially add to cannabis’s potential to block the spread of the virus.