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As medical cannabis is being used more and more to treat a range of ailments, science shows possibility of severe mouth herpes being treated and managed with cannabis.
What Are Mouth Herpes?
Mouth Herpes, often called Herpes Simplex Virus 1 (HSV-1), cold sores, mouth sores, fever blisters, and, in latin, herpes labialis. Herpes simplex labialis, or oral herpes, is a mouth infection caused by the herpes simplex virus. The infection leads to fluid filled blisters caused by a viral infection. The virus causes painful herpes sores on the lips, mouth, tongue or gums.
Though symptoms normally appear near the lips, mouth herpes is not always limited to the mouth area. Symptoms may appear between the upper lip, on or inside the nose, or on the chin or cheek. In these causes, HSV-1 is called oral-facial herpes.
Cold sores should not be mistaken with canker sores. Canker sores are small white blisters inside the mouth. Cold sores aren’t normally inside the mouth unless the sufferer has a weakened immune system. Cold sores are also much larger in size and red in color. Canker sores are less serious than cold sores and are not infectious. They are commonly associated with diet.
According to the American Sexual Health Association, over half of American adults carry the virus. It is more common than it is not in the human population. After the primary infection, the virus remains dormant in the nerve cells of the face. Later, the virus can then reactive and lead to more blisters and sores. This would classify the virus as recurrent.
With primary infection, some individuals experience a serious outbreak with a sore throat, swollen lymph nodes, general systemic signs, longer duration of symptoms, and higher rate of complications. Other’s silently are infected and do not even have an original outbreak.
Recurrent mouth herpes is usually not serious, but relapses are extremely common. Many infected choose to treat the episodes with easily accessible over-the-counter topical anesthetic creams. The signs and symptoms are usually gone within a few weeks. If the relapses are frequent, a doctor might prescribe medications to lessen the number of annual outbreaks.
Infection occurs through direct contact, such as kissing, eating and drink through sharing straws or cups, or sharing lip balms.
Herpes can also be transmitted when no symptoms are present. There are many days throughout the year when the virus reactivates but causes no visual symptoms (termed asymptomatic shedding, viral shedding, or asymptomatic reactivation).
Symptoms include: Pain, burning, tingling, or itching prior to the sore appearing; then clusters of blisters erupt. The most intense pain occurs at the onset and can make eating and drinking difficult.
HSV-1 Versus HSV-2
HSV-1 differs from Herpes Simplex Virus 2 (HSV-2) in that HSV-2 is more severe and a sexually transmitted disease called genital herpes. Patients are infected through sex or oral sex often. On the other hand, HSV-1 infects most of its sufferers before the age of 10. Most individuals contract mouth herpes when they are mere children when receiving a kiss from a friend or a relative.
THC and Herpesviruses
Medical cannabis may be able to reduce frequency of mouth herpes outbreaks. Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the major psychoactive cannabinoid compound found in marijuana. It has been shown to guide immune responses and lymphocyte function. After first infection, the viral DNA genome of herpesviruses latently remains in lymphoid cell nuclei.
This is to say the virus remains dormant, at least until activation which then creates the production of infectious virus progeny. This created the purpose of study for the potential treatment of gamma herpesvirus replication with THC.
In studies, there has been correlation between inhibition of virus replication and use of THC and cannabidiol (CBD), both cannabinoids derived from the cannabis plant. This could be due to the fact cannabis has anti-inflammatory properties. If curious, testing CBD products or THC products as methods of treatment–if they are legal and encouraged by a health professional–on lowering recurrent outbreaks of mouth sores has a low risk ratio. Medical cannabis has low side effects and has proven to have a range of medicinal uses.