The following information is presented for educational purposes only.
Medical Marijuana Inc. provides this information to provide an understanding
of the potential applications of cannabidiol. Links to third party websites
do not constitute an endorsement of these organizations by Medical Marijuana
Inc. and none should be inferred.
The herpes virus is a common, incurable, and highly contagious virus that
can cause painful outbreaks of lesions around the mouth or the genital area.
Research suggests that cannabis reduces the viability of the virus and helps
prevent its transmission.
Overview of Herpes Virus
The herpes simplex virus, most commonly referred to as herpes or HSV, is an
infection that causes herpes. Herpes is categorized into two separate types,
including oral herpes (herpes type 1), which is associated with tender sores
around the mouth and lips, and genital herpes (herpes type 2), which is
associated with sores around the genitals or rectum.
People with herpes often go through periods of the virus being dormant.
Outbreaks have a tendency to be brought on by menstruation, fatigue, stress,
immunosuppression, sun exposure, and general illness.
In addition to painful sores, herpes can cause pain during urination
(genital herpes) and itching. Additionally, during an outbreak a person can
experience symptoms similar to the flu: including fever, headache, fatigue,
a lack of appetite, and swollen lymph nodes.
Oral herpes is transmitted through either oral secretion when kissing or
sharing of objects like toothbrushes, lip balm, drinking cups, or food
utensils. Genital herpes is transmitted through sexual conduct. Both types
of herpes can be transmitted when the virus is dormant and there are no
signs of the disease. Children can contact herpes from an infected adult.
While anyone can become infected with the herpes virus, the risk of becoming
infected is associated with exposure to the infection. People who have
multiple sex partners or have sex without condoms are at a greater risk.
There is no cure for herpes. People infected with the herpes virus will have
it for the rest of their lives. The focus of treatment is on relieving the
symptoms associated with the virus. Medications can help manage the pain
caused by the sores, can shorten healing time and can reduce the incidence
of outbreaks. Warm baths help with the pain from genital sores.
Findings: Effects of Cannabis on Herpes Virus
Research has shown that tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the major cannabinoid
found in cannabis, modulates the body’s immune response and its T-cells to
effectively counter the herpes virus (Eisenstein & Meissler, 2015) (Blevins
& Dumic, 1980). THC has shown to inhibit the glycoprotein synthesis,
maturation and cellular transport of the virus, which in turn suppresses how
infectious it is and reduces the body’s inflammation response (Mishkin &
Cabral, 1987). One study found that THC inactivated the herpes virus and
reduced its infectivity by causing an 80 percent decrease in the viability
of the virus (Lancz, Spector & Brown, 1991). Another showed it helped
inhibit the spread of the virus by specifically targeting the viral and
cellular mechanisms required for its transmission (Medveczky, et al., 2004).
Research has long established cannabis’ efficacy for pain relief. Studies
have shown it to be effective at reducing
both chronic and acute pain associated
with neuropathy, spasticity, headache, cancer, and other conditions. One
study specifically showed the cannabinoids found in cannabis are effective
at reducing the neuropathic pain associated with the herpes virus (Rahn &
As of now, evidence suggests that THC suppresses the replication of the
herpes virus and can help patients manage the pain associated with the
condition. More research needs to be done on the other potential therapeutic
benefits of cannabis on the herpes virus, as well as whether other
cannabinoids, such as cannabidiol (CBD), possess similar anti-viral
States That Have Approved Medical Marijuana for Herpes Virus
No states have specifically approved medical marijuana for the treatment of
the herpes virus.
Some states will, however, consider other conditions and may approve medical
marijuana for herpes virus. In California,
“any debilitating disease where medical marijuana recommended by physician.”
“other medical conditions may be approved by the Department of Consumer
Protection.” Massachusetts will
approve “other conditions as determined in writing by physician.” The state
of Washington allows
medical marijuana for “any terminal or debilitating condition.” In Nevada, Oregon,
“other conditions subject to approval.” Additionally, Washington
medical marijuana to be used for any debilitating condition as recommended
by DC licensed doctor.
Several states will have approved medical marijuana for the treatment of
pain, a symptom commonly associated with the herpes virus. These states
include: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, New
Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode
Island and Vermont.
The states of Nevada, New
Dakota, Montana, Ohio and Vermont allow
medical marijuana to treat “severe pain.” The states of Arkansas, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Washington have
approved cannabis for the treatment of “intractable pain.”
Recent Studies on Cannabis’ Effect on Herpes Virus
THC targets the viral and cellular mechanisms necessary for the
herpes virus to transmit, thereby inhibiting it from spreading. Delta-9
tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) inhibits lytic replication of gamma
oncogenic herpesviruses in vitro. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15369590)
Cannabinoids effective at reducing pain associated with the
herpes virus. Cannabinoids
as pharmacotherapies for neuropathic pain: from the bench to the
Blevins, R.D., and Dumic, M.P. (1980, August). The effect of
delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol on herpes simplex virus replication. The
Journal of General Virology,
Cannabis May Help Combat Cancer-causing Herpes Viruses. (2004, September
Eisenstein, T. K. (2015). Effects of Cannabinoids on T-cell Function and
Resistance to Infection. Journal
of Neuroimmune Pharmacology : The Official Journal of the Society on
Genital Herpes – CDC Fact Sheet. (2016, May 19). Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention.
Genital Herpes Health Center. (n.d.) WebMD.
Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/genital-herpes/pain-management-herpes.
Herpes Simplex. (2012, July 22). HealthLine.
Retrieved from http://www.healthline.com/health/herpes-simplex#Overview1.
Lancz, G., Spector, S., and Brown, H.K. (1991, April). Suppressive effect of
delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol on herpes simplex virus infectivity in vitro. Proceedings
of the Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine,
Medveczky, M. M., Sherwood, T. A., Klein, T. W., Friedman, H., & Medveczky,
P. G. (2004). Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) inhibits lytic replication
of gamma oncogenic herpesviruses in vitro. BMC
Mishkin, E.M., and Cabral, G.A. (1987, May). Inhibition of cell-associated
herpes simplex virus type 2 glycoproteins by delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol. Proceedings
of the Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine,
Rahn, E.J., and Hohmann, A.G. (2009, October). Cannabinoids as
pharmacotherapies for neuropathic pain: from the bench to the bedside. Neurotherapeutics,
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