Most people who become infected with the varicella zoster virus and develop chickenpox go through an uncomfortable period with severe itching. Eventually the infection will heal on its own.
But did you know that the virus can live in your body for years afterwards?
In some people, the virus reactivates years later, causing a viral infection called shingles, which many people describe as more painful than chickenpox. Shingles typically causes blistering on one side of the body and a painful, burning rash.
People use cannabidiol (CBD) for many ailments, including pain and inflammation, which is why some people believe it can help with shingles. But is that really true? Below, we examine research on CBD for shingles and offer some CBD product suggestions.
There is no scientific evidence that CBD can help with shingles. There have been anecdotal reports of people using CBD to treat shingles, but the current literature does not support them.
An article published in the journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research suggests that CBD may be able to treat viral infections such as hepatitis C. However, there is currently insufficient clinical evidence to support this hypothesis.
However, there is evidence that CBD can reduce pain and inflammation – two main symptoms of shingles.
If you have shingles, we recommend that you consistently follow your doctor-prescribed treatment plan.
There is currently no hepatitis C vaccine, but treatment options can help prevent future complications. They can also help reduce the viral load to such an extent that laboratory tests no longer detect the infection. Health professionals refer to this as remission or cured.
The following medications can help clear shingles infection and relieve symptoms:
Delaying or avoiding treatment can lead to shingles complications, such as nerve damage, which can cause long-lasting nerve pain.
A 2018 study review suggests that cannabis-based drugs can help people with chronic nerve pain. Ultimately, more research is needed to better understand the link between chronic nerve pain reduction and cannabis-based drugs.
While CBD is not a substitute for standard treatment options, despite the lack of scientific evidence, it’s probably okay to try CBD for shingles. Talk to your doctor first, especially if you are taking any medications or supplements. CBD can interact with some drugs.
Topicals are less likely to get into your bloodstream than ingested products, but it’s still best to be careful and follow your doctor’s recommendation.
Also, make sure that you are aware of the possible side effects. While studies suggest that CBD is generally safe to use topically or orally, some people may experience mild side effects, such as:
- Changes in weight or appetite
It is possible to get a positive test result for THC when taking CBD products, especially full-spectrum CBD products.
We selected these products based on criteria that we believe are good indicators of safety, quality and transparency. Each product in this article:
- is manufactured by a company that can demonstrate third party testing by an ISO 17025 compliant laboratory
- is made from hemp grown in the USA
- According to the certificate of analysis (COA) does not contain more than 0.3 percent THC or tetrahydrocannabinol
- passes tests for pesticides, heavy metals and molds according to the COA
We also considered:
- Company certifications and manufacturing processes
- Product strength
- Total ingredients
- Indicators of user trust and brand reputation, such as:
- Customer ratings
- whether the company has been subjected to an FDA warning letter
- whether the company makes unsupported health claims
note: Our approach is to recommend products that we believe are of high quality. None of the products listed below contain additional ingredients that make them better than others for treating shingles.
- $ = under $ 30
- $$ = $ 30- $ 50
- $$$ = over $ 50
Best CBD oil for shingles
CBD Distillery Relief + Relaxing CBD Oil
- Price: $$$
- CBD type: The whole spectrum
- CBD potency: 5,000 mg per 30 milliliter (ml) bottle
- Certificate of Authenticity: available on the product page in the picture slideshow
If you’re looking for a highly potent CBD oil, this one from CBDistillery can be a great option. It’s made from just three ingredients: full-spectrum non-GMO hemp, medium chain triglyceride (MCT) oil, and natural terpenes.
The oil is rated highly by customers, with users saying the oil works well and tastes better than other options. (Unflavored CBD oils can have a bit of an earthy taste.)
CBD fuel products come with a 60 days guarantee.
Best CBD ointment for shingles
Joy Organics Premium CBD Ointment Stick
- Price: $$
- CBD type: broad spectrum
- CBD potency: 250 mg per 15 ml stick
- Certificate of Authenticity: available on the product page
If you’d rather try a topical product, this Joy Organics ointment stick is an excellent option. The small tube is easy to use on the go. It’s also fragrance-free, making it the perfect choice for people with odor sensitivity. The formula contains a skin-soothing mixture of organic jojoba and sunflower oil as well as shea butter.
Joy Organics also claims to make cruelty-free products and is part of the US Hemp Roundtable.
The company offers free shipping – which, by the way, is also climate neutral – and a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Best CBD Lotion For Shingles
Lazarus Naturals fragrance-free CBD body lotion
- Price: $
- CBD type: The whole spectrum
- CBD potency: 1,500 mg per 75 ml tube
- Certificate of Authenticity: Available online
This moisturizing lotion contains skin-friendly ingredients, including vitamin E, jojoba oil and organic mango butter. It is available in two fragrances: Pacific Pine and Portland Rose. Or if you prefer, you can go for the fragrance-free version.
Lazarus Naturals offers a support program for people with long-term disabilities, veterans, and members of low-income households.
The lotion is a great choice if you’re looking for a gentle way to keep your skin hydrated while taking advantage of the added benefits of CBD.
Most CBD oils are designed to be taken orally. Using the pipette provided, put the oil under your tongue and hold it there for at least 30 seconds before swallowing it. You can also add CBD oil to foods, beverages, or beauty products like lotions and creams.
Most companies will include a recommended dosage on the product label. However, we recommend speaking with your doctor to find out the ideal dosage for you.
In general, it’s a good idea to start with a small dose to get an idea of how your body reacts to CBD. You can increase the dose if you don’t notice any side effects.
To use topical CBD products, apply them directly to the skin and massage into the affected area. Do a patch test before applying CBD cream or lotion to see if you react to the product – especially if you have sensitive skin.
When using topical products, try to avoid applying them to areas with broken skin.
When buying CBD, there are a few easy ways to identify a quality product.
Look for products that have been tested by third parties
Currently, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate CBD products in the same way as pharmaceuticals. And while they can send warnings and take action against companies that provide false information or commit fraud, there is otherwise no regulation for products containing CBD.
Find companies that have their products tested by third parties and make it easy for you to find and consult the COA before you buy. Verify that the information on the COA matches the product labels and display information about the pollutant screening.
Check the product ingredient label
Look for CBD products made from hemp grown in the US – ideally that’s organic too. Scanning the ingredient list is even more important with topicals, especially if you are allergic or sensitive to certain irritants.
Think about your needs
What else should you watch out for?
- Power. If you are new to CBD, start with a less potent product. However, if you’re trying CBD for chronic pain, a higher potency product may be more helpful.
- CBD type. Isolates are a great option if you want to stay away from THC and other cannabinoids. Broad-spectrum CBD offers the benefits of other cannabinoids but is THC-free. Full-spectrum products contain all of the terpenes, cannabinoids, and flavonoids found in the cannabis plant, including tiny amounts of THC – no more than 0.3 percent. You should choose a pure isolate from CBD products to reduce the risk of a positive cannabis test on laboratory tests.
- Topically or orally. You can consider a topical oil or cream that you apply directly to the shingles rash. This is great for people who don’t want to take the oral form of CBD.
There is no evidence that CBD can help with shingles or other viral infections. Claims that CBD is helpful for shingles are purely anecdotal.
But it’s still too early to completely ban CBD in shingles. Since research has shown that CBD can reduce pain and inflammation, it is possible that it can reduce pain and inflammation related to shingles.
There is also limited evidence that CBD can help people with chronic nerve pain.
Overall, more research is needed to understand the potential benefits of CBD for shingles infections.
If you want to try CBD for shingles, speak to your doctor first, especially if you are taking any medications or supplements.
Is CBD Legal? Hemp-derived CBD products (containing less than 0.3 percent THC) are legal at the federal level, but are still illegal under some state laws. CBD products derived from marijuana are illegal at the federal level, but legal under some state laws. Find out about the laws of your state and wherever you travel. Keep in mind that nonprescription CBD products are not FDA approved and may be inaccurately labeled.
Steph Coelho is a freelance writer with chronic migraines with a particular interest in health and wellness. If she’s not clicking on her keyboard, she’s probably stuck in a good book.