Can Shingles be Treated with Cannabis?
Some might remember the childhood sufferance with chickenpox. Count your blessings if you were lucky enough to never had it. But if you did, the bad news is that the same virus that caused chickenpox remains dormant in nerve endings. Any stressful situation can reactivate it later when you are all grown-up. The difference is, is that it is much more painful than the childhood experience.
What is Shingles?
Shingles is caused by the varicella-zoster virus. It causes a lot of pain because of a horrible rash. It can appear anywhere on the body, but most often appear as a stripe of blisters on the right or left side of the torso. Anyone who had chickenpox as a child is at risk. In fact, one out of every three adults is likely to develop shingles later on in life. Most of the time, it happens before a person reaches 60 years of age. Adults after 60 are more at risk, as the immune system is often compromised
Shingles by itself is not contagious. But the virus can be passed on to someone who did not have chickenpox as a child. It is not possible to catch the virus in the air though, but when there is direct contact, it could be passed on. As it is a virus, there is no cure. Vaccination could lessen the effects. Treatments to help fighting to fight the virus also contributes to managing pain and side-effects.
What Symptoms do Shingles or Varicella-Zoster have?
About 3 or 4 days before the virus manifests as shingles, you might experience a very intense pain over the area where it will break out. As it affects the nerve ending in the skin, it is very painful. It usually affects only one section on one side of the body. For about 7 – 14 days there will be clusters of blisters that would be painful and itchy.
For many years the virus remains sleeping in the nerve ganglia and spinal cord. It will only reactivate if a situation calls for it. Certain conditions are more prone to reactivate the virus, such as stress, cancer, Hodgkin’s disease, and autoimmune system deficiency. The symptoms are:
Pain, burning sensation, and sensitivity to touch
Numbness or tingling
A red rash with open fluid-filled blisters
Some might experience fever
Headache and tiredness
Fatigue and sensitivity to light
The painful experience of shingles can be quite confusing. Depending on where the pain is, it might let a person believe that there are problems with the lungs, heart or kidneys. To complicate things even more, there could sometimes be an intense pain without the manifestation of a rash.
Physical Effects of Varicella-roster
Shingles has a different effect on people. Some of the common effects are:
Neurological problems – Sometimes shingles causes inflammation of the brain or encephalitis. If the attack is on the case, it could also cause facial paralysis and balance or hearing problems
Postherpetic neuralgia – sometimes long after shingles has passed, people still struggle with painful symptoms. This happens because the damaged nerve fibers keep on sending confused pain messages from your skin to your brain
Skin infections- If the blisters are not treated properly, infections could develop.
Vision loss- if the shingles develop around the eye, it is called ophthalmic shingles. The painful infection of the eye could lead to vision loss.
Why is Cannabis such an effective treatment?
Shingles attacks the nerve cells. For this reason, it is difficult to treat the pain associated with the disease. It also blocks certain receptors that help people normally to get relief from non-steroidal anti-inflammatories. This often means that the dosage of painkillers has to be increased to bring relief. The end result leads to other side-effects caused by the very medication to relieve the pain.
In the endocannabinoid system, there are receptors all over the body. They are not blocked similar to other receptors. This makes it possible for the cannabinoids in cannabis to bring pain relief where other products can’t. Apart from the neuroprotective properties that cannabis has, it also has anti-inflammatory properties. This works together greatly to decrease pain and deal with other long-term effects of shingles.
THC is specifically helpful to treat neuropathic pain as it has analgesic qualities. Because shingles causes pain in specific areas, topical cannabis treatments are also a very helpful way to treat the symptoms. Both THC- and CBD-infused topicals will do the trick.
Symptoms and side-effects relieved with Cannabis
The symptoms treatable with cannabis are:
Pain relief – Pain relief is very effective and the need for other pain killers are reduced
Reduces postherpetic neuralgia
Improves neuropathic pain
Reliefs rash symptoms
Because shingles attack the nerve cells, marijuana is one of the most effective ways to treat the symptoms. With its anti-viral properties, it might not kill the virus, but it is more effective than traditional painkillers. Shingles does not attack the receptors where the cannabinoids react to. This opens the door widely for cannabis treatment.