Herpes Article Cover

This article explores cannabis as a therapeutic for the Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV). New research points to full spectrum hemp extracts as an overlooked solution to painful cold sores. We’ll explain how HSV works and why the science suggests cannabis may be the fastest and safest way to neutralize outbreaks.

The Devastation of Herpes Simplex Virus

There are few conditions as widespread and potentially damaging as herpes, which affects about 3.7 billion people globally, according to the WHO. HSV spreads through direct contact with mucous membranes, entering sensory nerve ganglia where the virus becomes dormant in order to bypass the body’s immune response. When the virus reactivates, it causes painful lesions typically on the mouth (HSV-1) or genitals (HSV-2).

The HSV latency mechanism has rendered the virus virtually incurable. Current antiviral drugs (like acyclovir and valacyclovir) and over-the-counter remedies offer limited results with considerable side effects. 

The physical pain of herpes sores is severe, and coping with the anxiety of the next outbreak is a constant drain. To many, HSV can feel like a permanent obstacle to enjoying what’s best in life. But herpes doesn’t have to be a life sentence. With the right tools and medicines, the emotional and physical toll of herpes can be neutralized or even eliminated.

Life Research Co is proud to announce full spectrum, whole-plant cannabis botanicals as new hope for fast, effective relief in herpes management.

Cannabis could be the future of herpes treatment, if you use this information

Research and user reports show that the fastest way to stop cold sores with cannabis is actually a topical application of a symptom-specific combination of cannabinoids, cannabinoid acids, terpenes, and flavonoids.

These data indicate a potential flaw in the methodology of existing studies which typically consist in applying a single cannabinoid (THC, CBD, etc.) to a culture of cells infected with the herpes virus. However, this approach treats infected cells in a petri dish with a single compound, limiting potential outcomes. Thus, conclusions from current work on the antiviral activity of botanical hemp compounds remain theoretical.

Real world use data suggest better results with full-spectrum (specifically whole-plant) cannabis extracts. Researchers have long since established that hemp compounds, including cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids, work better together (i.e.- the Entourage effect). In order to maximize this synergy, all parts of the plant should be used in extraction with significant proportions of acidic cannabinoids, like CBGa and CBDa.

With the right genetics and extraction methods, we can ensure maximum cannabinoid activity in the body, which ultimately opens the door for the greatest therapeutic potential from hemp. Understanding this point is crucial to developing effective, non-invasive medicine from hemp for herpes, as well as a huge range of other health conditions.

However most extracts on the market are either isolates or lack the full therapeutic profile that the hemp plant has to offer. This holds true even for products labeled as “full spectrum”, because they lack a therapeutic ratio of botanicals that preserves electrical reactivity, which is only obtained through whole-plant extraction methods.

Current Research: Antiviral activity of THC, CBD, acidic cannabinoids, and hemp terpenes

Studies have shown that certain cannabinoid/terpene combinations prevent herpes infection in healthy cells while reducing severity when infection does occur. Many of these same compounds can also stop the virus’s replication through binding to its spike protein.

Researchers have been exploring cannabis for herpes for decades, with foundational data about THC & herpes coming from this 2004 study conducted at the University of South Florida (USF).

In the study, THC was shown to inhibit HSV replication through its regulation of immune responses and T-lymphocyte function.

The USF team also found that cells infected with a mouse gamma herpes virus typically died when the virus reactivated. However, when these infected cells were cultured with THC, they survived, indicating that THC prevented viral reactivation. This research suggests that THC achieves this by selectively inhibiting the spread of gamma herpes viruses by targeting a gene called ORF50, which is shared by these viruses.

Other studies have exposed the antiviral effects of cannabis. While these examples may be not be directly related to herpes, they still constitute important circumstantial evidence for cannabis for herpes relief.

This 2024 study is one of the latest findings on the antiviral activity of CBD. Researchers at the Instituto de Química Biológica de la Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales (IQUIBICEN) found a significant inhibition of the Zika virus when treated with CBD in vitro. 

CBD, another key cannabinoid, is recognized for its anti-inflammatory properties, which can reduce the intensity of HSV outbreaks and related symptoms such as pain, anxiety, and inflammation. Another review paper published in 2023 describes cannabinoids-especially CBD-as powerful antiviral agents with a broad spectrum activity on both enveloped and non-enveloped viruses.

cannabis antiviral activity diagram

Cannabinoid acids: the keys to locking spike proteins and viral replication

Research and anecdotal data point to cannabinoid acids, specifically CBGa and CBDa, as having special antiviral properties. Anyone considering cannabis as a herpes treatment should choose a full spectrum extract with these compounds for the best outcome.

As we’ve already discussed, viruses like herpes and COVID-19 rely on a distinct spike protein to replicate. Botanical hemp compounds have demonstrated remarkable binding to this spike protein in multiple studies without the need for vaccines or other drugs.

 In 2022, researchers at Oregon State University discovered that CBGa and CBDa blocked the cellular re-entry of COVID virus into human cells by binding to its spike proteins. While this is circumstantial evidence, it remains a significant and encouraging finding.

Terpene-specific considerations for herpes relief

Terpenes and cannabinoids boost each other’s effects when taken in the right combination. Look for these specific terpene profiles when selecting hemp products to treat cold sores or related symptoms. 

The USF research team also discovered that essential oils containing terpenes such as β-myrcene, α-pinene, β-caryophyllene, beta-pinene, and limonene can reduce HSV-1 infectivity by 100% when they directly interact with free viral particles. These monoterpenes exert their antiviral effects by binding to specific viral glycoproteins, namely gB, gD, and the gH-gL complex. These glycoproteins are crucial for the virus’s binding to host cell receptors and fusing with the host cell’s lipid bilayer envelope. By blocking these interactions, the monoterpenes effectively prevent the virus from attaching to and entering the host cells.

Cannabis terpenes, such as eucalyptol, pinene, terpineol, ß-caryophyllene, and perillyl alcohol, exhibit antiviral properties that are effective against HSV. These compounds also work synergistically with cannabinoids to enhance their antiviral effects.

How cannabis could help cure herpes

The fact that cannabinoids bind to the spike protein in herpes and other viruses (including COVID-19) is a groundbreaking discovery that is largely unsung by the scientific community.

But anyone could take advantage of this fact now by using full spectrum extracts with a whole-plant botanical profile.

Through this interaction, cannabis inhibits the herpes virus from replication and the right combination of cannabis compounds could indeed prevent the virus from re-entering latency.

That would mean that the virus could no longer bypass the body’s immune response. At that point it potentially could be eliminated by antibodies and other means, which is a theoretical first step in a cure for herpes.

Recommended Cannabis Strains for Herpes Symptoms

For managing herpes symptoms with cannabis, specific strains can be more effective. The following strains are recommended due to their unique cannabinoid-to-terpene ratios:

The following strain-specific recommendations come from The Cannabis Health Index, an authoritative manual on how to use cannabis to treat 200+ conditions and symptoms.

  • Anxiety: Amnesia Haze, Girl Scout Cookies, Harlequin
  • Depression: Harlequin, Jack Herer, Pineapple Express
  • Inflammation: Cannatonic, God Bud, Charlotte’s Web
  • Pain: Afghan Kush, ACDC, Blue Dream
  • Sleeping Difficulties Granddaddy Purple, Northern Lights, Purple Urkle

Clinical Considerations

Patients considering cannabis for herpes should consult their healthcare providers, especially if they are on existing medications. This is to avoid potential interactions and ensure an integrated approach to treatment. Quality, safety, and potency of cannabis products are crucial factors, so sourcing from reputable providers with third-party lab testing is recommended.


The Cannabis Health Index, 3rd edition

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