Shingles, also known as herpes zoster, are caused by the varicella-zoster virus. This is the same virus that causes the chickenpox infection. Shingles commonly occurs in individuals who have had chickenpox in the past. After recovering from chickenpox, the virus stays active in the nervous system, and with the age and growth of the individual, the virus may proceed to cause shingles.
Shingles cause very painful rashes on any area of the body it affects. The rashes are like blisters that become reddish over time. There is no known cause of the virus but research has shown that it can be a result of a history of chickenpox.
A report from the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) shows that about 1 in 3 people in the US will contract this virus at some point in their lives. However, it rarely occurs more than once in an individual.
This statistical report may be quite grim but not to worry, this article will examine the effects of CBD on Shingles.
What causes Shingles?
As mentioned above, shingles has no known cause except that it is a result of a previous episode of chickenpox. However, there are risk factors that can trigger the virus in individuals.
- Age: As individuals grow older, they are more likely to be infected with shingles. Individuals from 50 and above are at a higher risk of getting infected with the viral infection.
- Weak Immune System: An individual with a weak immune system has a higher chance of being infected too. This is because the immune system would not be able to fight off the virus that is present in the body, thereby leading to shingles.
- Cancer Treatments or Surgery: Anyone undergoing cancer treatments or a major surgery has every chance of having shingles. This is as a result of the complications involved with the treatments and they can also trigger the virus in the body.
- Stress: Emotional stress can trigger the virus in the body too. When the body is stressed, the stress hormone, cortisol, can suppress the immunity of the body which in turn will trigger the virus, leading to shingles.
Other factors can be as a result of a disease or other infections an individual has.
Signs and Symptoms of Shingles
The signs and symptoms of shingles include
- Rash; which could resemble the chickenpox rash – a fluid-filled blister that occurs on a particular section of the body supplied by a sensory nerve.
- Pain; sharp or dull aching in nature
Shingles could affect other internal organs such as the liver and kidney.
What are the complications of Shingles?
Complications of shingles include;
- Postherpetic neuralgia: It is a long-term complication whereas the dermatomal pain persists long after the rash has disappeared.
- Encephalitis meningitis
- Vision impairment
How do I treat Shingles?
Shingles, being a viral infection, are usually self-limiting. However, the symptoms could be severe in adults necessitating medical intervention. Varieties of treatment modalities exist to relieve the symptoms which can reduce the extent and duration of symptoms. It could also reduce the risk of developing complications.
The following can be used to treat symptoms of shingles;
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
- Calamine lotion
- Antiviral agents like acyclovir cream, capsaicin cream
- Corticosteroids like oral prednisolone
- Tricyclic antidepressants like amitriptyline
- Anticonvulsant agents like pregabalin, gabapentin
Can I Prevent Shingles?
Prevention is more indicated in the older population because they are more at risk of developing the severe form of shingles with complications.
- Varicella-zoster vaccine: It is a life-attenuated vaccine. The available brands are Shingrix and Zostavax. Zostavax is used as a preventive vaccine for people over the age of 50 who have good immunity. Shingrix on the other hand is more effective and lasts longer.
- Varicella-zoster globulin: It recommended for use in immunocompromised persons who have been exposed to varicella-zoster.
CBD Oil for Shingles
Cannabidiol (CBD) has gained medical attention with the increasing research it is getting about its health benefits. It has been established that CBD relieves pain, anxiety, inflammation depression, and so on. Due to the anti-inflammatory effects of CBD, it can be used to limit the spread of shingles on the body.
As we all know, cancer patients have a high risk of contracting shingles. A study done among people treated with chemotherapy drugs revealed that CBD Oil has a beneficial effect on the pain that results from nerve damage. Shingles’ pain, being neuropathic pain, could also be relieved with the use of CBD Oil.
CBD Oil is mostly associated with cases that deal with pains because of its anti-inflammatory effects. It is no wonder that it might be of help when it comes to patients suffering from shingles. How does CBD affect shingles? You may ask.
There are compounds known as cannabinoids present in CBD. These compounds bind with receptors in the Endocannabinoid system (ECS) which is a vital signaling structure present in the body. The compounds will majorly interact with the receptors responsible for managing pain and inflammation hence the benefit of CBD Oil to treatment of shingles.
How to use CBD Oil to treat Shingles?
- Applying sublingually i.e. through drops or spray under the tongue might take effect in about 15-30 minutes. But the effects may last 4-6 hours at which time the dose of CBD should be repeated.
For those that may prefer applying CBD directly to the affected area, avoid applying the oil on open sores. Effect may be felt as early as 5 minutes and may last for about 6 hours, when the dose of CBD should be repeated.
Though shingles can be treated and cleared in a matter of weeks, the painful after effects may persist for years. Hence, the quest for the next best thing to help relief the pain of shingles.
However, it is important to know that studies are still ongoing on the use of CBD Oil in the management of shingles. So, it is advisable to visit the physician when the signs and symptoms of shingles occur. Also, the vaccines discussed above are only for patients who do not have the shingles infection, but want to be vaccinated to avoid ever getting shingles.