This story was updated with new reporting and data on September 3, 2019.
There’s a good chance that you’ve had a cold sore at least once in your life. At least 50 percent (and upwards of 80 percent) of adults in the U.S. have oral herpes, the virus that most commonly causes cold sores. For those that have been lucky enough to side-step them, they’re small blisters or ulcers commonly found around the mouth, nostrils, and gums. They usually appear in the innermost corner of your lips, making it painful to eat, talk, brush your teeth, or even open your mouth. Apart from the pain, cold sores commonly can have a negative impact on self esteem.
Cold sores are most often caused by herpes simplex type 1, but they can also originate from herpes simplex type 2, the sexually-transmitted virus responsible for genital herpes outbreaks. Cold sores and genital herpes are both forms of the herpes simplex virus. Both can result in blisters around the mouth and sex organs, the main difference is that genital herpes are often accompanied by fevers, body aches, headaches, and flu-like symptoms.
There’s always been a negative stigma toward people who have herpes or cold sores — more so with genital herpes. But the herpes virus is actually extremely common and easily transmitted.
People can live with the virus without even knowing it. It can lie dormant until a person becomes severely stressed or run-down. To add to this, sexual intercourse is not the only way that herpes can be spread — in fact, both types of herpes can be transmitted through oral sex, by kissing, by skin-to-skin contact.
Transmission of herpes is so common that, according to the World Health Organization, 3.7 billion people under the age of 50 carry the virus. That equals to 67 percent of the world population of that age group.
Although the herpes virus isn’t curable, there are plenty of ways to manage and treat it, including, according to new research: CBD.
Because of its anti-inflammatory and pain relieving properties, CBD oil may just be the ideal natural treatment option. We’ve compiled different ways that CBD could be used to help you ease the pain, redness, swelling of the herpes virus, for both the mouth and genitals — and perhaps even help you avoid frequent outbreaks in the first place.
During a flare-up of the herpes virus, it’s normal to see angry red blisters that just won’t abate. This comes just after the immune system has been lowered, which is the most common time a herpes incident will occur. Research shows that cannabinoids like CBD can help boost the immune system in the face of infectious diseases. If you are able to detect the beginning of an outbreak, this is when CBD may be most beneficial.
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a system in the human body that controls multiple functions of the body — from mood regulation to how your body fights disease. Scientists believe that CBD helps the ECS to work properly, supporting white blood cells to fend off the herpes virus’ attack on cells and soft tissue.
Though research is nascent, early studies suggest CBD may be a powerful anti-viral medicine. In a 2010 study from the Department of Biology at the NYU Cancer Institute, scientists found that cannabinoids — like CBD — were able to help ward off persistent infections, like herpes.
Although inflammation is a normal process of the immune system, it can bring pain and irritation along with it — especially where cold sores and genital herpes are concerned. Thankfully, CBD has been able to treat pain and inflammation for a variety of illnesses and skin types. It won’t cure the herpes virus, but it can calm aggravating symptoms.
Because most people who try CBD experience few (if any) negative side effects, you can use it frequently and try a number of different delivery systems and dose levels to find what may work best for you.
It seems obvious that topicals are a go-to source for cold sores and genital herpes. You can apply CBD infused topicals straight to the infected area during an outbreak. If you can’t find a CBD cream, you can combine CBD oil with a hypo-allergenic cream. Apply to the affected skin using a clean cotton ball or Q-tip — don’t use your hands as you could spread the virus to other parts of the body. Dab the sores gently and evenly.
If you prefer not to touch the blisters, you can take a few drops of CBD oil under the tongue. CBD tinctures will glean best results if they are full-spectrum and combined with a good carrier oil. When a compatible carrier oil is introduced, CBD can be absorbed into the bloodstream up to three times more efficiently.
Lip balm soothes and rids you of the discomfort of dry, cracked lips almost immediately. By using CBD lip balm regularly you could keep your lips healthy and nourished, making them less ripe for a cold sore. If you do experience a herpes incident, CBD lip balm can work even better than standard lip balms — it not only moisturizes but its anti-inflammatory properties may help shrink fiery blisters. Of note: CBD lip balm may not lessen the pain of blisters as it’s mostly used for getting rid of redness and swelling.
You can apply CBD lip balm whenever you want, there’s no right or wrong time to use it — who doesn’t love a hydrated lip?
Vaping CBD is an efficient way to get the cannabinoid into your bloodstream — fast. It allows for a higher concentration of cannabidiol to enter your body, which could help to reduce the appearance of blisters and lessen the length of time your sores last.
However, be conscious that a herpes outbreak is extremely contagious. Sharing your vape with a friend when you have a cold sore will put them at risk of catching the virus too.
By eating a CBD edible, you are releasing all of CBD’s many purported health benefits (and particularly, those specific to cold sores and herpes) into your body, while also enjoying a (usually) tasty treat. However, note it will take longer to experience the positive side effects — CBD edibles need to process through your digestive system before reaching the bloodstream.
No matter which CBD delivery method you choose, make sure to check in with your doctor before starting any new treatment plan or to make an initial diagnosis. Herpes viruses are common and no one should feel ashamed for having them. Beyond CBD, there are a number of effective treatment options available to manage the disease and ensure you can live a normal, healthy life.