Jan 13, 2017 12:10 PM

How Can Medical Marijuana Help With Herpes?

Cannabis has proven to be an effective treatment for a wide range of diseases. Patients suffering from psoriasis, eczema, and other skin ailments often get marijuana prescriptions to ease their symptoms. However, scientists are wondering whether cannabis can help with another surprising condition: the herpes virus.

The herpes virus consists of a group of different viruses that can cause dozens of serious diseases. Some of them include shingles, chickenpox, genital herpes, common cold sores, and Epstein-Barr. In those infected, the virus is present in the body at all times. However, the symptoms of the herpes virus usually appear when the immune system is suppressed. That is why you may sometimes suffer from cold sores under high-stress conditions as the stress hormone cortisol significantly decreases the immune function.

Although Epstein-Barr and chickenpox have their own standard kinds of treatment, herpes symptoms affecting the upper-body and genitals are usually treated with the following drugs: valacyclovir (Valtrex), famciclovir (Famvir), and acyclovir (Zovirax). In some cases, all of these drugs can have serious side effects. Headache, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and mental changes are the most common ones.

Cannabis can offer a unique natural option for those suffering from the herpes virus. Although there is a lack of human trials on marijuana's effect on herpes outbreaks, a new treatment may soon be on the horizon: scientists have been working on this issue for quite a long time.

A 1980 study tried to treat in vitro human cells with THC, the main psychoactive compound of the cannabis plant. Each cell was infected with one of the two different types of the herpes virus. Both forms of herpes stopped replicating under the influence of THC.

Another study conducted in 1991 showed that THC could potentially suppress herpes viruses—it reduced the infectivity of the genital herpes virus in cells cultured outside of the body.

A human trial in 2010 included a testing of a facial cream containing synthetic cannabinoids for treating postherpetic neuralgia that is associated with shingles (shingles are caused by the herpes zoster virus). Five out of eight participants reported an 87.8% pain decrease, which is quite promising.

Will cannabis become a new treatment for the herpes virus? More research and human trials are still desperately needed.

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