Cannabinoids: a word becoming more and more common in and out of medical offices. Most of us are familiar with the concept of ingesting or smoking medicinal CBD oil, but many are unaware that cannabinoids can also be applied directly to the skin.
You may have heard of Rick Simpson, the Canadian man who treated himself with homemade concentrated cannabis oil. In 2003, Simpson discovered three suspicious bumps on his arm. He was soon diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma, a form of skin cancer. Simpson had successfully treated an unrelated condition with cannabis in the past, and decided to treat the cancer himself. He applied a homemade cannabis tincture to a bandage, and used the bandages to cover the affected area of his skin. After only four days, he removed them to find that the three cancerous growths had disappeared. Elated, he returned to his doctor to find that he was completely skin cancer -free. Even then, his physician refused to acknowledge cannabis as an effective treatment.
Rick Simpson is just one of the many cases recorded that report success with topical cannabis. As it is more widely accepted by doctors and patients alike, information regarding cannabinoids is becoming fairly easy to come by. Unfortunately, although people have been using CBD infused creams and oils topically for quite some time, there is not enough definitive data regarding its long-term benefits or adverse effects. We do, however, have quite a bit of information regarding cannabinoids in general, and preclinical evidence shows that topical cannabis creams may aid in herpes outbreaks.
What are cold sores?
If you have ever experienced cold sores, or are suffering from them for the first time, you know how uncomfortable they can be. Cold sores are tiny, painful blisters that can appear on or around the mouth, lips, or nose. The initial outbreak can be the worst, accompanied by fever, itching, inflammation, flu-like symptoms, and headache. Cold sores are typically caused by type I of the two types of herpes simplex virus. Because it is a viral infection that cannot be completely eliminated from the body, cold sores can (and likely will) reoccur. Once infected, a person will carry herpes simplex virus for the rest of his or her life. Oral herpes simplex is extremely contagious, and can be spread by mouth-to-mouth contact, saliva, or even sharing things like Chapstick or drinking out of the same straw. It’s possible to spread herpes simplex even without an obvious outbreak, but the most contagious period is when there are active sores present. This period can last from a few days to over a week, and even longer if left untreated. There’s typically no way to tell when cold sores will resurface or what triggers outbreaks. However, certain conditions (like fever, colds, the flu, sun exposure, stress, changes in the immune system, hormonal changes, or trauma to the skin) are believed to be associated with cold sore outbreaks.
What are the side effects of topical CBD cream?
CBD (cannibidiol) is one of the more common cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. Unlike the more popular compound THC, CBD is totally non psychoactive. This means it won’t get you high and won’t show up in a drug test. Better yet, when you use cannabinoids as a topical, you don’t have to worry about them entering your bloodstream at all. CBD oil topicals like creams, salves, and ointments, are formulated specifically to treat locally. This means it won’t treat any area that doesn’t touch the product. In fact, human skin can actually be somewhat resistant to cannabinoids, so most products recommend liberal use. CBD cream is minimally invasive, super potent, and a great option for those who wish to treat localized areas and do not want cannabinoids circulating their bloodstream.
Though there are no known common negative side effects of using CBD cream on the surface of the skin, it is important to exercise caution when using any cannabis treatment. Everyone responds to products differently, and because some data can be conflicting, it is safe to assume that it is quite possible (although, again, not common) to experience negative side effects. Although most allergic reactions happen from direct exposure to the cannabis plant or bud (from pollen, mold, pesticides, etc), keep in mind that research is still incomplete. Always make sure your CBD cream and topicals are made with high quality ingredients, as not all cannabis is created equal. CBD’s are considered to be extremely safe, however, and although it is possible to overdose, there are no reports of death associated with CBD use. It is recommended to consult a doctor before using cannabinoids.
How effective is CBD cream for cold sores?
Until recently, our only options for treating cold sores were a variety of prescription and over-the-counter creams and medications. Although the concept of using cannabis to treat herpes outbreaks has been around for some time, the success rate of CBD cream to treat cold sores is still pending. Studies in 1991and 2004 showed that using THC was effective against the herpes simplex virus, and many studies report that THC and CBD likely work better together. More preclinical evidence and human trials are needed to get definitive data.
If you have decided to treat cold sores with cannabis, know that finding herpes-specific cannabinoid cream on the market can be tricky. This is largely due to the fact that cannabinoids are still illegal or highly regulated in many places. Many people prefer to use alternative treatments when they can, and there are quite a few at-home remedies that have been met with success when treating cold sores. It is also possible (and increasing in popularity) to make your own CBD oil or cannabis topical. You can find many resources for making extracts, oils, and creams infused with cannabis. Educate yourself and talk to your trusted doctor. Ask questions, make sure you are getting clear answers, and ultimately listen to your body when deciding if cannabis cream is your best option for treating cold sores.