Cannabis for Herpes
Herpes is one of the most common kinds of STD’s around. The Center for Disease Control estimates that 1 in 6 people aged 14 to 49 have the virus. Even if you’re careful about having sex, some lesions occur in areas that aren’t covered by condoms, so condoms aren’t 100% foolproof as protection from herpes.
There are two kinds of herpes virus: oral herpes, characterized by blisters and sores around the mouth are caused by the HSV-1 virus. You don’t need to have sex to contract the HSV-1 virus as it can be found in many children who get it even without any sexual contact. HSV-2 on the other hand, is sexually-transmitted. It is possible for a person to have both kinds of viruses in the body.
For some people, the symptoms (sores in the genital area, mouth, or rectum) are so mild or even remain dormant for years so they never really suspect that they have it until a serious, painful outbreak occurs. During the first year of infection, herpes outbreaks usually occur repeatedly but afterwards it’s less frequent although the sores can last for several days and cause significant pain and discomfort. Certain factors can also trigger outbreaks, such as going through periods of stress, not getting enough sleep, exposure to sunlight, hormonal changes or getting menstruation, or a weakened immune system.
There is no cure to herpes: the virus will live in the human body forever. There are topical and oral medications that can decrease the frequency of outbreaks, but it doesn’t get rid of the virus completely.
Even though herpes is so common, there is a lot of stigma surrounding it. People who have herpes suffer from accompanying shame and emotional pain because it isn’t easy to tell a romantic partner about herpes. When people find out that you have herpes, they usually think that it’s because you’ve slept around, but it can happen even if you’ve just been sleeping with one person who happens to have herpes. The sores are extremely contagious, so it can be difficult to broach the subject with a partner who isn’t aware that you have it.
Cannabis Can Suppress Herpes Virus
Among the many cannabinoids found in cannabis, THC can give high hopes for people who are living with herpes. Studies show that THC can modulate the T-lymphocyte functions and immune response to suppress and decrease outbreaks caused by the herpes virus. When THC is present in the body of a person who has herpes, it can also be effective in reducing the severity of the outbreak. Another study conducted in 2004 by the University of Southern Florida discovered that small doses of THC was effective in inhibiting the virus in tissue cultures and prevented virus replication.
There are many cases of anecdotal evidence online where individuals report a significant decrease in pain and outbreaks after they’ve started smoking cannabis.
Cannabis Can Reduce Post-Herpetic Neuralgia
The herpes virus can also cause neuralgia in some people. Neuralgia is characterized by chronic pain anywhere in the body where nerves are present. Post-herpetic neuralgia occurs because the herpes virus irritates the neural pathways and nerves. It can happen anywhere in the body, even in the genital areas. The pain brought about by post-herpetic neuralgia can be debilitating for some people; it can be described as a burning sensation, tingling, numbness, or shooting pain. In some cases post-herpetic neuralgia can last for as long as weeks or months and it can also be excruciatingly painful (even more than herpes), leaving people feeling helpless in the wake of this nasty virus. While medications for herpes can also reduce or address post-herpetic neuralgia, the results aren’t consistent and many report that they don’t experience any relief at all.
Cannabis has long been used to treat chronic pain caused by several different kinds of disorders, and nerve-related conditions or neuropathy is one of them. Millions of people are already turning to cannabis to treat a variety of painful conditions, and now it’s also likely that it can be used to reduce the pain associated with post-herpetic neuralgia.
A recent study was conducted by the University of California and published in the Journal of Pain. The researchers wanted to study the impact of vaporized cannabis in treating neuropathic pain. They conducted a blind study where patients vaporized cannabis in just one of 3 levels of potency: 0% THC (placebo group), 2.9% and 6.7%. The participants were observed over the course of 8 hours, where they were administered doses of either placebo or cannabis. At the end of the study, the patients who took low to moderate dosages of cannabis reported experiencing “significant analgesic response”. The researchers then concluded, “The present study complements previous investigative work that cannabis is a promising treatment in selected pain syndromes caused by injury or disease of the nervous system.”
Since post-herpetic neuralgia is a condition affecting the nerves and nerve pathways, those suffering from this condition and herpes can ask licensed physicians to prescribe medical marijuana for pain management since herpes isn’t on the list of qualifying conditions just yet.
Have you tried using cannabis to reduce herpes outbreaks? Share your experience with us in the comments below.
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