Shingles is a serious and extremely painful medical condition that has no known cure. Patients experiencing a shingles outbreak describe it as one of the most painful things they have ever experienced. Many of the traditional treatment options do little to treat the symptoms of a shingles outbreak or decrease the likelihood of complications from shingles. This has left doctors and patients alike trying to find a surefire way to relieve shingles pain. While trying to determine what is the best treatment for shingles, medical marijuana has risen in popularity as a treatment for a variety of conditions, including pain relief. To understand if marijuana can provide relief from shingles pain it requires understanding shingles and reviewing how marijuana can be used to treat the symptoms.
What is Shingles?
Shingles is a painful skin condition that affects adults who have been exposed to a virus. Shingles is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox. If you have ever had chickenpox, the virus remains inside you and can cause shingles later in life. Roughly a million cases  of shingles are reported in the United States every year. Shingles causes a painful rash of fluid-filled blisters, redness, and cracking. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine,  symptoms can begin even before the rash is visible. These symptoms often start with burning, shooting pain, tingling, or itching sensations, which can continue throughout the time the rash is present. The rash itself can last 30 days,  and skin and nerve pain may continue much longer even lasting years in some cases.
Although pain is the primary complaint, complications can also arise from a shingles outbreak. The Shingles Info website  estimates that one in every four people with shingles will experience a complication ranging from bacterial skin infections to vision and hearing problems. Many people develop postherpetic neuralgia or PHN, which is a medical term used to describe the long-term pain that can plague people for months or years after shingles has gone. This post-shingles nerve pain is often unresponsive to traditional pain management therapies, including prescription pain medications. The pain of shingles and the long-term PHN pain that can occur after are are so severe that it leaves all those afflicted wondering how to relieve pain from shingles.
What Helps Relieve Shingles Pain?
To understand what helps relieve shingles pain,
you first have to understand what the symptoms are. When the shingles virus becomes active in the body, it can cause the following symptoms:
- Severe shooting or stabbing pain in the affected area
- Itching, tingling, or burning sensations in the affected area
- Rash with blisters, redness, and cracking
- Oozing or pus from blisters or rash
- Inflammation – both internal and of the skin
- Mild cold or flu-like symptoms
- Nerve pain
- Vision or hearing problems (when rash occurs on face or head)
The primary complaints of someone with shingles are the severe pain and the associated rash. Currently, there is no cure  for shingles pain or for the shingles virus. An effective treatment for shingles would need to reduce or shorten the effects of the virus, relieve pain, reduce inflammation, and relieve the skin rash. No current treatment options are capable of helping in all these ways. Most treatments are antiviral in nature, designed to fight the virus and reduce the severity and duration of the shingles outbreak. These medicines  may also help prevent the likelihood of lingering pain, but they are not always effective, and treatment must begin early.
Other treatment methods for those looking for how to relieve pain from shingles are generally limited to prescription analgesics or other types of pain relievers. These prescription pain pills work to reduce the sensations of pain and control inflammation but do little to aid in the relief of nerve pain, which is the primary type of pain experienced by shingles sufferers. Nerve pain has been historically hard to treat as the cause is not fully understood. Relieving the rash has also proven to be a difficult task. Some treatments  for itchy skin like calamine lotion or oatmeal may assist, but relief is often only achieved over time. Cannabis may offer a solution to both the pain and rash aspects of shingles.
How to Reduce Pain from Shingles with Marijuana
Using marijuana could be a promising therapy
method when trying to determine how to reduce pain from shingles. Recent studies  have shown cannabis compounds as an effective treatment when used to reduce pain, particularly chronic nerve-related pain. Cannabis acts within the brain and nervous system alongside the body’s endocannabinoid system to reduce the sensations of pain, manage the body’s response to pain, and control inflammation, which can contribute to pain and discomfort. When using marijuana for a pain treatment, the most effective method is inhalation as this gets the medicine into the bloodstream more quickly and at a higher concentration than other methods. Some alternative methods have been studied, including pills that contain THC, CBD, or both along with edibles and even an oral spray.
In addition to using marijuana to control the pain associated with a shingles outbreak, it’s nerve pain relieving properties make it a candidate for one of the best treatments for PHN pain  that can leave the skin sensitive to the touch and painful for long periods. The neuroprotective functions  of the cannabinoids in medicinal cannabis can prevent inflammation, control chronic pain, and prevent nerve damage, making it a powerful weapon in the fight against shingles and PHN pain. Cannabis has also been shown to be useful in treating the shingles rash. It acts as a topical antiseptic treatment, helping prevent and treat infections of the skin. Some patients have also found cannabutter or cannabis uses as an infusion in salves can help speed the healing of the rash and blisters associated with shingles.
Could Cannabis be a Cure for Shingles Pain?
Determining how to relieve shingles pain with marijuana is only half of the equation. To really be an effective treatment, cannabis needs to truly be a cure for shingles pain. Research has shown  marijuana used as a treatment for shingles has been able to cause a dramatic improvement in the symptoms experienced by patients. It decreased the need for other pain medications, reduced the occurrence of PHN, helped improve neuropathic pain, and worked as a topical treatment that improved the shingles rash and prevented skin infections. This research shows that cannabis could, in fact, be one of the most effective methods of treating shingles and its related symptoms. Although it may not be able to cure the virus, it can provide a measure of relief not currently available with other medical therapies that are currently in use.
Why are People Turning to Marijuana to Relieve Shingles Pain?
As medical marijuana has grown in popularity and acceptance, research has turned to identifying which conditions it may help with, including extremely painful conditions like shingles. As individuals have tried to figure out how to relieve shingles symptoms like pain, rash, and inflammation, cannabis seemed like a logical solution. Its use for relief of pain, inflammation, and particularly nerve pain is well documented,  and these are some of the primary complaints of those trying to determine what is the best treatment for shingles. Many of the current treatments for shingles do little to reduce the painful burning sensation that can last long after the shingles outbreak. However, cannabis promises benefits that current treatments do not – relief for pain, inflammation, and rash.
In addition to its pain-relieving and skin treating benefits, cannabis is often turned to because of its relatively low risk of side effects. The most common treatments for shingles include antivirals like acyclovir, valacyclovir, and famciclovir along with analgesics, a type of prescription pain pill. These types of prescription medications have noted side effects, some of which can be very serious in nature. In fact, all three of the antivirals commonly prescribed can cause headaches, nausea, and diarrhea. Valacyclovir  has been associated with seizures and dramatic changes in behavior, and Famciclovir  can cause dangerous hallucinations. The dangers of prescription pain pills are also widely known – from the risk of addiction to the loss of decision-making capabilities. With these dangers, it is no wonder why so many have turned to marijuana for relief from shingles symptoms.
As you can clearly see, the findings are promising when it comes to using marijuana to treat a shingles outbreak. Shingles may be a painful skin condition with no cure, but by using cannabis you can reduce the associated pain and relieve the rash, blisters, and skin discomfort brought on by the disease. Marijuana can help reduce the pain, control the inflammation, and improve the skin condition during an outbreak. It may also be one of the best treatments available when shingles complications result in painful, long-term PHN. The promise of marijuana’s ability to effectively treat symptoms and avoid some of the side effects of other treatments are why more and more individuals are choosing to treat their shingles with medical marijuana.
1.Web-site cds.gov, an article “Prevention treatment of shingles”
2.Web-site medicalmarijuana.com, an article “Treatment of shingles with cannabis”
3.Web-site medlineplus.gov, a page “Shingles”
4. Web-site ncbi.nlm.nih.gov URL: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMHT0012586/?report=details#side_effects
5.Web-site shinglesinfo, an artice “What is shingles”
6.Web-site unitedpatientsgroup.com, an article “Guide for using medical marijuana for shingles”
7.Web-site webmd.com, a page “Famciclover
WOW, it's Great!