Shingles

CBD for Shingles

The growing body of research into the benefits of cannabidiol (CBD) has taught us that this cannabinoid has the potential to help treat a variety of conditions 1 Corroon, J., & Phillips, J. A Corroon, J., & Phillips, J. A. (2018). A Cross-Sectional Study of Cannabidiol Users. Cannabis and cannabinoid research, 3(1), 152–161. https://doi.org/10.1089/can.2018.0006 A Cross-Sectional Study of Cannabidiol Users . But while CBD may actually help eliminate some conditions, its role in treating others isn’t necessarily as clear. Understanding the benefits of CBD oil for shingles means digging deep into the research and recognizing that while a cure isn’t always possible, symptom management can be a goal worth striving toward.

What is Shingles?

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, shingles is a rash or blister outbreak, caused by the same virus that leads to chickenpox 2 Shingles Information Page. Shingles Information Page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/All-Disorders/Shingles-Information-Page. .  In fact, having had chickenpox in the past is one of the leading risk factors for developing shingles in the future.

A burning pain or tingling is often experienced before an outbreak occurs. Days later, a patient with shingles will begin to notice fluid-filled blisters in the area they initially felt that pain or tingling. Outbreaks can last for weeks and be extremely painful, with nerve involvement in many cases. While treatments do exist to reduce the longevity and frequency of outbreaks, there is no cure 2 Shingles Information Page. Shingles Information Page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/All-Disorders/Shingles-Information-Page. .

The Potential of CBD for Shingles

Unfortunately, there is no known cure for shingles – not even CBD.

Current treatments for shingles include a variety of antiviral drugs, such as acyclovir, valacyclovir, and famciclovir. Research has found these to be effective for speeding up the healing process and reducing pain levels. However, the side effects of these drugs include constipation, headaches, nausea, and vomiting 3 A comparative study to evaluate the efficacy and safety of acyclovir and famciclovir in the management of herpes zoster. Gopal, M. G., Shannoma, Kumar B C, S., M, R., A S, N., & Manjunath, N. C. (2013). A comparative study to evaluate the efficacy and safety of acyclovir and famciclovir in the management of herpes zoster. Journal of clinical and diagnostic research : JCDR, 7(12), 2904–2907. https://doi.org/10.7860/JCDR/2013/7884.3670 Gopal, M. G., Shannoma, Kumar B C, S., M, R., A S, N., & Manjunath, N. C. .

Could CBD help to reduce those side effects? Or even better, could CBD help to reduce the pain experienced as a result of shingles?

What Does the Research Say?

There are thus far no studies specifically looking into the benefits (or potential risks) of using CBD to treat shingles.

Here’s what we do know: Studies have repeatedly demonstrated the potential therapeutic benefits of CBD in treating chronic pain conditions, even neuropathic pain 4, 5 Cannabinoids in the management of difficult to treat pain. Russo E. B. (2008). Cannabinoids in the management of difficult to treat pain. Therapeutics and clinical risk management, 4(1), 245–259. https://doi.org/10.2147/tcrm.s1928 Russo E. B. . This suggests CBD oil for shingles pain may be a valid option in addressing one of the more difficult symptoms of this disease, particularly for those experiencing nerve pain.

For patients considering using CBD alongside traditional shingles treatments, research has found CBD to be beneficial in treating nausea and vomiting, as well as headaches 6, 7 Regulation of nausea and vomiting by cannabinoids Parker, L. A., Rock, E. M., & Limebeer, C. L. (2011). Regulation of nausea and vomiting by cannabinoids. British journal of pharmacology, 163(7), 1411–1422. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1476-5381.2010.01176.x Parker, L. A., Rock, E. M., & Limebeer, C. L. . This suggests CBD could help to alleviate some of the side effects experienced as a result of treating shingles with antivirals.

Shingles can also pose a serious threat to those with compromised immune systems 2 Shingles Information Page. Shingles Information Page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/All-Disorders/Shingles-Information-Page. . Moreover, it could be argued that patients dealing with shingles may face an increased risk of anxiety and trouble sleeping due to the pain experienced as a result of the condition. “CBD 8, 9 Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research James M. Nichols and Barbara L.F. Kaplan. Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research. Mar 2020.12-31.http://doi.org/10.1089/can.2018.0073 James M. Nichols and Barbara L.F. .

What all this means is that while CBD oil for shingles may not provide an outright cure, it could have the potential to alleviate some of the symptoms experienced by those living with the disease. CBD oil may also help ease some of the side effects associated with common shingles treatments. With anxiety, stress, and a weakened immune system all playing a potential role in contributing to additional outbreaks, it’s also possible that continued use of CBD could mitigate those factors, and lead to fewer outbreaks overall 10 Herpes zoster and postherpetic neuralgia: an examination of psychological antecedents. Sansone, R. A., & Sansone, L. A. (2014). Herpes zoster and postherpetic neuralgia: an examination of psychological antecedents. Innovations in clinical neuroscience, 11(5-6), 31–34. Sansone, R. A., & Sansone, L. A. (2014). Herpes zoster and postherpetic neuralgia: an examination of psychological antecedents. Innovations in clinical neuroscience, 11(5-6), 31–34. .

Is CBD Worth Trying for Shingles?

Because shingles is a skin condition, you may be tempted to try using topical CBD products on active outbreaks. Please proceed with caution when it comes to this, though. While some research has suggested CBD may help speed up wound healing, we still know very little about this potential benefit, and there is no research on topical CBD treatment for open shingles blisters 11 Cannabinoid Signaling in the Skin: Therapeutic Potential of the “C(ut)annabinoid” System Tóth, K. F., Ádám, D., Bíró, T., & Oláh, A. (2019). Cannabinoid Signaling in the Skin: Therapeutic Potential of the “C(ut)annabinoid” System. Molecules (Basel, Switzerland), 24(5), 918. https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules24050918 Tóth, K. F., Ádám, D., Bíró, T., & Oláh, A. .

What we do know is that many topical CBD products contain additives, which could be painful to apply directly onto an open wound. As a result, many of these products contain warnings against doing so.

For this reason, CBD oil for shingles may be your best option if you want to give CBD a try. Taking CBD oil orally is the best way to experience all the above-mentioned benefits of CBD (including side effects and symptom management). CBD oil products can be ingested as drops placed directly into your mouth or in water, taken sublingually, or even cooked into your favorite edible creations.

As with anything new, you are adding to your treatment regimen, it’s important to talk to your doctor before incorporating CBD into your shingles treatment plan. But with that go-ahead and the proper amount of experimentation to find the right product and CBD dosage for you, you may come to find CBD helps make your shingles battle that much easier to manage.

Can you put CBD oil on shingles?

There is some research to suggest topical CBD applications may help to speed up wound healing. However, because of the potential for infection and pain when applying products topically to open wounds, it is probably best to ingest CBD oil for shingles, rather than applying it topically to an active outbreak 11 Cannabinoid Signaling in the Skin: Therapeutic Potential of the “C(ut)annabinoid” System Tóth, K. F., Ádám, D., Bíró, T., & Oláh, A. (2019). Cannabinoid Signaling in the Skin: Therapeutic Potential of the “C(ut)annabinoid” System. Molecules (Basel, Switzerland), 24(5), 918. https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules24050918 Tóth, K. F., Ádám, D., Bíró, T., & Oláh, A. .

What essential oils are good for shingles?

Bergamot, eucalyptus, lavender, tea tree, and geranium oils have all been shown to have potential benefits in the treatment of shingles 12 Commercial Essential Oils as Potential Antimicrobials to Treat Skin Diseases Orchard, A., & van Vuuren, S. (2017). Commercial Essential Oils as Potential Antimicrobials to Treat Skin Diseases. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM, 2017, 4517971. https://doi.org/10.1155/2017/4517971 Orchard, A., & van Vuuren, S . As with all new treatment options, please discuss the use of these oils with your doctor before adding them to your treatment regimen.

What is the best pain relief for shingles?

For those experiencing chronic, enduring pain after a shingles outbreak, The Cleveland Clinic suggests five potential treatment options: intercostal nerve blocks, thoracic epidural injections, tricyclic antidepressants, membrane stabilizers, and capsaicin cream 13 Burning, Lingering Pain After Shingles? 5 Options That May Help You The Cleveland Clinic. (2020). Burning, Lingering Pain After Shingles? 5 Options That May Help You. The Cleveland Clinic. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/when-your-shingles-pain-lingers-5-options-may-help/ The Cleveland Clinic. . You may also want to talk to your doctor about using CBD oil for shingles pain as you attempt different treatment plans.

How long does it take for postherpetic neuralgia to go away?

Postherpetic neuralgia (PHN) is a complication of shingles, where the pain persists, even after the rash has healed. This pain can range from mild to severe and continue for months after the fact. There are treatments available for PHN, to include tricyclic antidepressants, anticonvulsants, opioids, and topical anesthetics. How long the condition lasts can vary from patient to patient, and the condition may get better over time, even without treatment 2 Shingles Information Page. Shingles Information Page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/All-Disorders/Shingles-Information-Page. .

Sources
  1. Corroon, J., & Phillips, J. A. (2018). A Cross-Sectional Study of Cannabidiol Users. Cannabis and cannabinoid research, 3(1), 152–161. https://doi.org/10.1089/can.2018.0006
  2. Shingles Information Page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/All-Disorders/Shingles-Information-Page.
  3. Gopal, M. G., Shannoma, Kumar B C, S., M, R., A S, N., & Manjunath, N. C. (2013). A comparative study to evaluate the efficacy and safety of acyclovir and famciclovir in the management of herpes zoster. Journal of clinical and diagnostic research : JCDR, 7(12), 2904–2907. https://doi.org/10.7860/JCDR/2013/7884.3670
  4. Russo E. B. (2008). Cannabinoids in the management of difficult to treat pain. Therapeutics and clinical risk management, 4(1), 245–259. https://doi.org/10.2147/tcrm.s1928
  5. Xiong, W., Cui, T., Cheng, K., Yang, F., Chen, S. R., Willenbring, D., Guan, Y., Pan, H. L., Ren, K., Xu, Y., & Zhang, L. (2012). Cannabinoids suppress inflammatory and neuropathic pain by targeting α3 glycine receptors. The Journal of experimental medicine, 209(6), 1121–1134. https://doi.org/10.1084/jem.20120242
  6. Parker, L. A., Rock, E. M., & Limebeer, C. L. (2011). Regulation of nausea and vomiting by cannabinoids. British journal of pharmacology, 163(7), 1411–1422. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1476-5381.2010.01176.x
  7. Leimuranta, P., Khiroug, L., & Giniatullin, R. (2018). Emerging Role of (Endo)Cannabinoids in Migraine. Frontiers in pharmacology, 9, 420. https://doi.org/10.3389/fphar.2018.00420
  8. James M. Nichols and Barbara L.F. Kaplan. Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research. Mar 2020.12-31.http://doi.org/10.1089/can.2018.0073
  9. Blessing, E. M., Steenkamp, M. M., Manzanares, J., & Marmar, C. R. (2015). Cannabidiol as a Potential Treatment for Anxiety Disorders. Neurotherapeutics : the journal of the American Society for Experimental NeuroTherapeutics, 12(4), 825–836. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13311-015-0387-1
  10. Sansone, R. A., & Sansone, L. A. (2014). Herpes zoster and postherpetic neuralgia: an examination of psychological antecedents. Innovations in clinical neuroscience, 11(5-6), 31–34.
  11. Tóth, K. F., Ádám, D., Bíró, T., & Oláh, A. (2019). Cannabinoid Signaling in the Skin: Therapeutic Potential of the "C(ut)annabinoid" System. Molecules (Basel, Switzerland), 24(5), 918. https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules24050918
  12. Orchard, A., & van Vuuren, S. (2017). Commercial Essential Oils as Potential Antimicrobials to Treat Skin Diseases. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM, 2017, 4517971. https://doi.org/10.1155/2017/4517971
  13. The Cleveland Clinic. (2020). Burning, Lingering Pain After Shingles? 5 Options That May Help You. The Cleveland Clinic. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/when-your-shingles-pain-lingers-5-options-may-help/

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