Most of the time, when someone contracts the varicella-zoster virus and develops chickenpox, they have an uncomfortable period of time where they experience intense itching. Eventually, it clears up on its own. However, did you know that the virus may still live in your body for many years after you’ve had chickenpox?
Many years later, in some people this virus will reactivate, resulting in a viral infection known as shingles. Many people describe this infection as being more painful than chickenpox. Typically, shingles is characterized by blisters on one side of the body along with a painful, burning rash.
In recent years, cannabidiol, or CBD, has become quite popular for treating a wide variety of physical ailments, such as pain and inflammation. This has led some people to believe that it might help treat shingles. However, is this really true? In this article, we’ll explore the research regarding CBD for shingles and also give you some CBD product suggestions for treating your shingles and other skin conditions.
Types of CBD
Before we explore whether or not CBD can help with shingles, it’s important to know the three different types of CBD that you will encounter.
If a product is labeled as “full-spectrum”, it means that it contains all of the 100+ cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids from the plant. This includes trace amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, which is the chemical that makes you feel “high”. Some experts believe that, due to the entourage effect, CBD is more effective with THC than without.
If a product is labeled as “broad spectrum”, it means that it contains everything that a full spectrum product does, minus the THC.
If a product is labeled as “isolate”, it means that it is 100% pure CBD. It has been highly processed, so there are no other cannabinoids, flavonoids, or terpenes.
Now that you are more acquainted with CBD, let’s explore the topic of CBD and shingles.
Can CBD help with Shingles?
At this time, while there are plenty of anecdotal accounts of people using CBD to treat their shingles outbreak, there is no scientific evidence proving that it is effective. One article published in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research indicates that CBD may help treat viral infections, such as hepatitis C. That being said, the clinical data is not sufficient to confirm this belief.
However, there is some evidence that CBD can reduce pain and inflammation, which are two of the primary symptoms of shingles. If you do have shingles, you should follow the treatment plan prescribed by your doctor.
At this time, there is no vaccine available for hep C. However, there are some treatment options that can be used to prevent further complications. There is some evidence that these treatments may reduce the viral load to where the infection is not detectable with lab testing. This is what healthcare professionals refer to as remission or cured.
Common Treatment Options for Shingles
Following are some of the most common treatments used to reduce symptoms related to a shingles infection and even clear it up:
- Pain medications
- Topical pain relief
If you delay or avoid treatment when you get a shingles outbreak, you could end up with complications such as nerve damage- which can result in long lasting nerve pain. One 2018 review of several studies found that cannabis-based medications are effective for treating chronic nerve pain. Of course, in order to determine how cannabis-based medications reduce chronic nerve pain, we need more research.
Safety & Side Effects of CBD for Shingles
Experts acknowledge that CBD is not a replacement for traditional treatments, but it’s fine to try it, despite the lack of concrete scientific evidence. However, you do need to consult with your physician before doing so- especially if you are taking any other medications or supplements. Studies have shown that CBD may interact with certain medications. Topicals are less likely to get into your bloodstream like ingested products, but it’s still a good idea to be cautious and listen to your physician’s recommendations.
Additionally, it’s important that you take note of the potential side effects associated with CBD. Most studies indicate that CBD is safe to use topically or orally. However, there are a few minor side effects that have been reported:
- Changes in weight
- Changes in appetite
Finally, keep in mind that though full-spectrum CBD products do contain THC, it’s rare that you will test positive on a drug screen. After all, these products contain 0.3% or less THC.
How We Selected the Best CBD Products to Treat Shingles
We have taken the time to gather a list of CBD products that may be beneficial for those who have shingles. These products were chosen based on certain criteria that we feel are ideal indicators of transparency, quality, and safety. You can be sure that each product on our list complies with the following:
- Made by a company that provides proof of third-party testing with an ISO 17025 compliant lab
- Made with hemp grown on farms in the United States
- According to the certificate of analysis, or COA, contains 0.3% or less THC
- According to the COA, passes testing for molds, pesticides, and heavy metals
A few of the other things we considered include the following:
- Company certifications/manufacturing processes
- Indicators of brand reputation and user trust, including:
- Customer reviews
- Whether or not they have gotten an FDA warning letter
- Whether or not they make unsupported health claims
Basically, we only recommend products that we believe are high quality. It’s important to note that none of the products we have suggested have any additional ingredients that make them better than others for shingles treatment.
View our top CBD product picks here
How to Use CBD for Shingles Treatment
Most of the CBD oils on the market are meant to be ingested. You will use the dropper to place the oil under your tongue. Then, you will hold it for 30+ seconds before swallowing. If you prefer, you can add it to food or drinks to make it more bearable. You can also add it to your typical beauty products, such as lotions and creams.
You will discover that most of the manufacturers include the recommended dosages on their labels. However, it’s still critical that you discuss your use of CBD products with your physician so he/she can recommend the ideal dosage for you.
If your physician approves it, you may want to start with a smaller dosage. This will give you an idea of how your body will react. If it helps, you can stick with that dosage, increasing when you feel the need. On the other hand, if it doesn’t seem to be effective or you are not experiencing any side effects, bump up your dosage and see what happens.
The best way to use the topical products is to apply them to the skin of the affected area and massage into the skin. Of course, it’s very important to do a “patch test” to find out how your skin will react to the product before slathering it all over. This is especially critical if you know that you have sensitive skin. When using a topical CBD product, it is important to note that you should not apply them to broken skin.
Tips for Choosing a Quality CBD Product for Shingles Treatment
When you are shopping for a quality CBD product to treat your shingles, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. These will help you decide which ones are worth looking at and which ones are best to be avoided.
First of all, it’s important to note that the FDA, Food and Drug Administration, does not regulate CBD products like they do pharmaceuticals. They can send warning letters to these companies that are fraudulent or are making false claims- but other than that, there is no regulation regarding CBD products.
When checking product labels, look for evidence that their products are third-party tested and be sure to check the COA before you make a purchase. Make sure that the COA and the product labels match and that there is information regarding contaminant testing.
Ingredients on Product Labels
Ideally, you should be purchasing products made from hemp grown in the United States, preferably on organic farms. That being said, it is especially important to check the ingredient list for topicals, especially if your skin is sensitive to certain irritants or you have any allergies.
Consider Your Needs
Finally, it’s important that you consider your personal needs:
- If you’re just getting started with CBD oil products, start with a low potency. That being said, if you are using it to treat chronic pain, you may find that high potency products are more effective.
- Consider the type of CBD you want to use: Full spectrum, broad spectrum, or isolate. Full spectrum contains all of the chemicals in the plant, including up to 0.3% THC. Broad spectrum contains everything but the THC. Isolate has been highly processed and is pure CBD. While you should not test positive on drug screens with any of them, you may prefer to lean towards isolate products just in case.
- Think about whether you’d prefer a topical or oral CBD product. You can use a topical to apply directly to the rash, which works well for those who want instant relief or don’t want to take an oral product.
At this time, the claims about CBD effectively treating shingles are anecdotal. There is no hard scientific evidence that it will treat shingles or any other viral infection. However, it’s too early to deny it’s potential. Some research has proven it to effectively treat chronic pain and inflammation- so it’s possible that CBD can treat the symptoms related to shingles.
There is also some evidence that CBD may treat chronic nerve pain as well- but we need more research to fully understand the benefits of using CBD as a shingles treatment. If you do decide that you are interested in trying CBD to treat your shingles outbreak, make sure to discuss it with your physician, especially if you are taking any prescription medications or supplements.