Herpes is not just one disease or condition. It is actually a virus family. It is, however, responsible for several serious and chronic human ailments. These include chickenpox, cold sores, genital herpes, and mono. When you are infected, the virus never goes away. Additionally, symptoms tend to pop up when the body undergoes severe stress. That includes when the immune system is depressed.

The most common forms of the virus are herpes simplex 1 and herpes simplex 2 (or HSV-1 and HSV-2). Oral herpes (HSV-1) might be present in between 30-95% of the population. About 20% of the US population has genital herpes (HSV-2).

The good news? It appears that cannabis might be able to treat these conditions. Why? Not only does cannabis have immune-boosting properties, it can also relieve stress in the first place. Cannabinoids appear to reduce the infectiousness of the virus, as well as some of its worst symptoms.

cannabis treatment for herpes

A LOWDOWN ON HERPES

Herpes is a chronic condition - one attached to a huge amount of social stigma, beyond just becoming infected. That can make disease management really difficult. Herpes is highly contagious. Oral herpes is spread fairly easily through simple contact. Sharing a lipstick or kissing can spread it. Unprotected oral sex is another major channel of transmission.

HSV-1 causes cold sores. These can be acquired through simple skin contact. HSV-2 comes from sexually transmitted infection. This causes painful sores on the genitals. Worse? This is a condition that comes back repeatedly and largely unannounced. The virus is reactivated with stress. This can include anything from menstruation to fatigue. It can also include overexposure to the sun.

For those who suffer, it is a constant management battle to keep the condition at bay.

No matter how it occurs, viral outbreaks can interfere with daily functioning and life in general. It is often embarrassing, painful, or both. There is still a great deal of stigma around sexually transmitted herpes in particular.

The three main drugs used to treat this virus all have serious side effects. Acyclovir, famciclovir, and valacyclovir are the drugs most commonly prescribed. They can also cause headaches and diarrhea. Vomiting is common. In the worst cases, they can actually affect one’s psychology.

As a result, many sufferers look for other, more natural alternatives.

Cannabis is one of the main drugs they also turn to.

CAN CANNABIS TREAT HERPES?

The good news? It appears that cannabis certainly might help. Starting with preventing outbreaks in the first place. While clinical data is still hard to come by (of course), what is available already shows significant promise. Early studies dating from 1980 and later repeated in 1991 and 2004 show the same thing: cells infected with either HSV-1 or 2 stopped replicating when treated with THC.

Even more exciting? A 1991 study found that THC reduced infection rates too.

Topical therapies containing cannabinoids can also reduce the pain experienced by herpes sufferers, particularly shingles.

All in all, cannabinoids seem to have exactly the right properties required to fight outbreaks of the virus. Cannabis also appears to be able to address, if not treat, physical and mental stressors that can cause its re-emergence.

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HOW DO I FIGURE OUT WHAT KIND OF CANNABIS IS RIGHT?

This is going to take some trial and error. If you have a canna-friendly doctor, by all means engage them. They might be able to suggest particular strains to help you start with. This is also a discussion you should have with your local dispensary, even if you are discreet about the actual condition.

It is likely that you will find both internal and external applications of cannabis to help your condition. By ingesting cannabinoids orally or smoking them, you are in fact boosting your immune system already. Cannabis also has strong anti-viral properties. Certain medical strains are even bred for this trait.

On top of this, consider topical treatment. THC oils and creams, even if you make them yourself, appear to halt both the progression and pain from sores.

OTHER TREATMENTS

Having the herpes virus means managing a life-long chronic condition. That means there are other lifestyle changes necessary to control the worst symptoms. Maintaining a healthy diet, regularly exercising, and getting enough sleep are critical.

When integrating medical cannabis into herpes management, also consider how this will fit into the healthy lifestyle choices you are now making.

While it may be difficult to hear the diagnosis at first, this too shall pass. Many people who are exposed to the virus are able to manage it with some lifestyle adjustments. And the best news of all? This is a condition that appears to be significantly more manageable with cannabis.

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