Cold sores can cause discomfort—even pain—and certainly a fair amount of self-consciousness and anguish. And unfortunately, there isn’t a cure for cold sores. But the good news is that cannabidiol (CBD) a cannabinoid in the cannabis plant, may be able to help relieve the symptoms and generally minimize the effect cold sores have on your life.
So, how exactly can CBD help fight cold sores?
What Are Cold Sores?
Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV-1), a different type of the virus that causes genital herpes (HSV-2). Cold sores start out as small but painful blisters filled with yellowish-green fluid and usually appear around your mouth. However, there are also times when the blisters appear on your cheeks, nose or even fingers.
Typically, a few days after they appear, the blisters pop and a crust forms over the sore, eventually falling off when the virus is completely gone. This process usually lasts for a week or two, but can last up to a month.
How Cold Sores Develop
The HSV-1 virus lives in your body for life, but it lays dormant until something triggers an outbreak. Many things can trigger an outbreak of cold sores like:
- Compromised immune system
- Hormonal fluctuation
- Cold weather
- Direct sunlight
The first cold sore outbreak is the worst, while succeeding ones are milder and will usually affect the same area.
You Can Use Cannabis to Treat Cold Sores
CBD helps boost a person’s immune system through its interaction with the endocannabinoid system (ECS). So, CBD can naturally boost the body’s virus-fighting capabilities.
The cannabinoid also helps with inflammation and pain. In fact, one paper published by the U.S. National Institutes of Health reviewed the effect of different cannabinoids on inflammation. It pointed out that CBD encourages healthy cells to grow, while inhibiting inflammation and chronic pain—all things you need when fighting cold sores.
This means that not only can you use CBD to calm your cold sores and minimize their redness and pain, but CBD can also weaken the virus so that you may have fewer outbreaks in the future.
How to Use CBD to Treat Cold Sores
CBD Oil Can Make for a Potent Topical
Topical cannabis oil is great for skin issues because you can apply the product directly on the infected area for a more concentrated medication.
To treat a cold sore directly with CBD oil, take a drop or two of the oil on a cotton pad or Q-Tip. Gently wipe it around the affected area, and the itch and pain will be minimized in no time. Be careful not to touch the cold sore directly (or if you do, wash your hands immediately) as this is how the very contagious virus can spread.
You can also make your own CBD topical by adding a few drops of CBD oil to your favourite cream or balm. But take note: Some creams and balms are ideal for reducing redness and swelling but aren't very good when it comes to minimizing pain. And some are only formulated to moisturize. If you want to go the DIY route, choose a carrier cream that will aid in minimizing the effects of the cold sore.
CBD Lip Balm Can Be a Daily Defence Against Cold Sores
CBD lip balm is another effective way to treat cold sores around your mouth. It moisturizes and treats blisters easily because it makes dry skin elastic again. CBD lip balms aren’t so effective in taking away the itchiness and pain of cold sores, but are ideal for reducing redness and swelling from the blisters. You can also apply a CBD lip balm daily even if you aren’t experiencing any outbreaks for defensive purposes.
Vaping CBD Is a Good Way to Ingest the Cannabinoid’s Anti-Inflammatory Benefits
You don’t always need to put your cold sores in direct contact with CBD to take advantage of the cannabinoid’s benefits. Take, for example, CBD vapour ,which is another sure-fire way to treat your cold sore outbreaks. By vaping a high-CBD cannabis strain, you’ll be taking in the cannabinoid’s anti-inflammatory properties into your lungs and from there directly into your bloodstream.
Some CBD-rich cannabis strains to try include:
CBD Edibles Can Boost Your CBD Levels During a Cold Sore Outbreak
Another way to ingest CBD is through edibles. Making your own cannabis edibles can be as easy or as complex as you feel comfortable with, and a good way to keep steady level of CBD in your system to fight the herpes virus.
Some easy yet tasty ways to incorporate CBD into food include:
Herpes is a virus that stays dormant in your system for life. Fortunately, CBD oil is effective at treating cold sores that result from the virus. Use one of these CBD preparations the next time you feel a cold sore starting to form and see if it helps minimize the negative impact that cold sores have on your life.
Photo credit: Pablo Heimplatz