Shingles is a painful skin rash that only develops if you’ve had chickenpox before. The varicella-zoster virus causes chickenpox. Once you recover from this infection, the virus may stay dormant in your body and become active years later, causing shingles.
In short, shingles is the second attack of the chickenpox virus and usually causes pain on one side of the body. Some people use cannabidiol (CBD) because they believe it helps alleviate pain. But can CBD help with shingles pain?
This article will answer this question in detail and recommend some of the best CBD products. But first, it’s important to understand the symptoms of shingles and what causes the infection.
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Shingles is caused by varicella-zoster. The viral infection commonly affects people who’ve suffered from chickenpox before.
Shingles, also called herpes zoster, is not directly contagious. If you’ve never caught the varicella-zoster virus or been vaccinated against it, you will get chickenpox when exposed to a shingles patient. The shingles virus can only spread in the form of chickenpox to an unvaccinated individual who's never had chickenpox.
You can’t get shingles from an individual with shingles. Instead, you will get chickenpox when exposed to the viral infection.
The viral infection often begins as a burning sensation or itchy skin. A few days later, a painful rash develops on the right or left side of the body. It typically affects the chest but can appear anywhere, including the face, head, arms, and back.
The rash appears as fluid-filled blisters and spreads the shingles virus through direct contact. Other signs and symptoms of the viral infection include the following:
You cannot transmit shingles before the blisters develop or after they disappear since transmission only occurs through direct contact with the fluid within the blisters. The blisters usually dry up in about a week and disappear completely within weeks (without complications). A weak immune system increases shingles risks.
CBD is the second main compound in cannabis after delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). It’s commonly derived from hemp plants but can also be made in the lab. CBD cannot make you high and does not cause addiction. But is CBD good for shingles pain?
You may have seen testimonials from people claiming that CBD can treat shingles. However, no research has proven that CBD products can treat the symptoms. Studies on the effectiveness of CBD are still in their early stages.
Nevertheless, some evidence suggests that CBD products potentially relieve pain. Several studies funded by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health are focused on proving whether cannabinoids (including CBD) can reduce pain.
While CBD is potentially a good alternative for relieving pain, it doesn’t replace the standard treatment options in the US. The FDA hasn't verified CBD as a viable pain-killer. However, it may be okay to use CBD products for shingles pain after speaking to your doctor.
A recent Forbes survey suggests that 60% of American CBD users do so to relieve pain. They believe that CBD products have medicinal benefits.¹
Below, we’ve compiled some of the best CBD products for shingles that we think are high-quality, safe, and lab-tested for the right potency. They meet the 0.3% THC federal requirement in the US.²
Understand the different types of CBD before proceeding to the product list:
Full-spectrum CBD: The hemp extract making the product contains cannabidiol and other compounds in the hemp plant, including traces of tetrahydrocannabinol(THC) and terpenes (which give a plant its smell). THC is responsible for causing the “high” effect after consuming cannabis products.
Broad-spectrum CBD: These products are similar to full-spectrum. However, the hemp extract undergoes an additional purification process to remove nearly all THC. It’s almost THC-free but contains other natural ingredients of the hemp plant, such as terpenes.
CBD isolate: Unlike full and broad-spectrum, CBDisolate is pure CBD with zero traces of THC and other compounds in the hemp plant. Because it’s THC-free, CBD isolates cannot make you high.
Here are our top picks we believe may help with shingles.
Strength: 20mg of CBD per 1ml serving
Type of CBD: Broad spectrum
Price: $49.99 per bottle (60ml)
Level Select Level 1contains 0% THC, so you won’t get high if you use it to treat shingles. According to the manufacturer, Level 1 CBD oil is non-GMO, third-party lab-tested, and cruelty-free. The product has a certificate of analysis (COA) confirming the absence of molds, heavy metals, and pesticides.
Each bottle has a unique number for users to confirm the oil’s lab analysis from the vendor’s website. If you are new to CBD products, Level Select Level 1 may be a great way to get started.
Level Select Level 2 (2400mg per 60ml bottle) and Level 3 (5000mg per 60ml bottle) are more powerful options if you want a stronger dose. The dropper is calibrated for more precise dosing.
Strength: 40mg of CBD per 1ml serving
Type of CBD: Full spectrum CBD (up to 0.3% of THC)
Price: $24.95 per bottle (15ml)
If you want a powerful CBD oil for shingles, this one from Cheef Botanicals might be what you’re looking for.
Made from non-GMO and organically grown hemp, this oil is rich in fatty acids and omega 3, 6, and 9. The manufacturer claims that the product supports a healthy diet. However, no flavored alternatives are available.
Since it’s a full spectrum CBD product, it’s not suitable if you want a 0% THC oil. Higher-potency CBD products from Cheef Botanicals are available if you want more powerful alternatives.
Strength: 500mg per 60ml container
Type of CBD: Full spectrum
Because shingles make the skin sensitive, a topical CBD product free from harsh compounds may be right for you. Cornbread full spectrum CBD lotion is made from flower-only hemp extract and organic ingredients that may relieve pain. The manufacturer claims that it’s USDA-certified organic.
However, keep in mind that it contains 20mg of THC per 500mg jar, so it may be unsuitable if you’re looking for a pure CBD product. The manufacturer offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, and the product is lab-tested (analysis available online).
Strength: 50mg per 1ml serving
Type of CBD: CBD isolate
Price: $69.99 per bottle
Lazarus Naturals tincture is the purest and the most powerful tincture on this list. As a CBD isolate, it’s THC-free for people looking for pure CBD products. It contains CBD isolate and fractionated coconut oil. Be sure you’re not allergic to coconut oil before buying.
The product comes from Lazarus Farms-grown hemp that is lab tested for purity and potency. Lab analysis reports are on the manufacturer’s website for verification.
With dozens of CBD products on the market, it’s easy to visit a random manufacturer’s site and order what you see first. Or perhaps it’s tempting to go to a local store and buy what’s available. However, an uninformed buying decision may lead to spending money on substandard products.
Here’s what to look for when shopping for a high-quality CBD for shingles:
Check the Certificate of Analysis (COA), which is usually on the manufacturer’s website. This certificate typically reveals cannabis components present in the CBD product, heavy metals analysis, and the availability of harmful pesticides.
Find out whether the product was tested in a third-party lab. Third-party lab reports are more likely to be precise and unbiased. However, identify whether the lab is legit, accredited, and qualified to conduct the test.
Identify cannabis compounds in the CBD product unless you’re buying the pure form called CBD isolate. Full-spectrum contains CBD, traces of THC, and terpenes, among other cannabinoids. THC amounts should be up to 0.3% because the compound can make you high. On the other hand, the broad spectrum contains CBD and terpenes.
Was the product manufactured from an organic plant? Organically planted hemp might be of higher quality than one planted in soils with prohibited substances.
What do you need? How powerful do you want your CBD products to be? Choose products with less potency if you’re using CBD for the first time, as this allows you to establish what your body is comfortable with. What CBD type are you looking for — the full spectrum, the broad spectrum, or CBD isolate?
There are several ways to use CBD products for shingles, including:
Applying a CBD cream, ointment, salve, or lotion on the affected area: With topical application, only small traces enter the bloodstream, reducing the chances of side effects, such as lethargy and diarrhea. However, CBD reaching the bloodstream makes the compound more effective in pain relief.
Inhaling or vaping CBD oil: Using vape pens to inhale CBD oil is a fast way to feel the effects of CBD. However, smoking makes it difficult to control dosage. Vaping may also have health risks.
Sublingual consumption: This refers to putting CBD tincture or oil under the tongue for absorption. Tinctures and oils usually come with a calibrated dropper to control dosing. According to Forbes, sublingual consumption might be the fastest way to experience the effects of CBD.
While anecdotal claims suggest that some CBD products are pain relievers, substantial evidence research is necessary to prove that they can control or kill pain from shingles.
If you are experiencing shingles symptoms, we recommend seeing a doctor and strictly following the prescribed treatment plan. Before using CBD products, ensure you’re not allergic to the ingredients used and that your doctor agrees with your use of CBD products.
Most CBD manufacturers provide dosage instructions. Follow them to avoid overdosing. However, the surest way to know how to use CBD products is to seek professional advice. CBD can affect how prescribed medications work. Confirming with a qualified physician is the best way to avoid side effects that are unique to your situation.
According to Harvard Health Publishing, other potential side effects of CBD include:
Remember, some CBD products (full-spectrum) have traces of THC, which might appear on drug tests.
Here are other medications to treat shingles symptoms and reduce the severity of the viral infection:
Antiviral medicines like famciclovir, valacyclovir, and acyclovir
Painkillers, either over-the-counter or prescribed medicine
Colloidal oatmeal baths (can treat itching, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
While most anecdotal reports suggest CBD relieves pain, substantial scientific research is yet to prove that it treats shingles pain. However,studies have shown CBD has great potential to reduce pain and inflammation.³
Generally, substantial research is necessary to identify the effectiveness of CBD in treating shingles. Before treating shingles with CBD, please seek a physician’s advice to learn about any potential side effects that may be unique to your situation.
FDA regulation of cannabis and cannabis-derived products, including cannabidiol (CBD) | U.S. Food and Drug Administration
Shingles (herpes zoster) | Department of Health
Signs & symptoms | Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
CBD for chronic pain: The science doesn’t match the marketing | Harvard Health Publishing
Transmission | Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Cannabidiol (CBD): What we know and what we don't | Harvard Health Publishing
Cannabis (marijuana) and cannabinoids: What you need to know | National Center for Complementary and Integrative health
Shingles: Overview (2006)