does cbd oil work for pain post shinglrs

Can medical marijuana relieve the pain associated with shingles? I’d rather not take a prescription for the pain.

In most cases, the symptoms associated with shingles last about one month and resolve on their own. In these instances, cannabis (via inhalation or ingestion) can be an effective analgesic and can also help take your mind off your pain.

Some shingles patients, however, suffer from ongoing pain called post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN). PHN affects nerve fibers and the skin and can lead to chronic peripheral neuropathy, which is chronic pain in the body leading up to the spinal cord and brain. Peripheral neuropathy can be caused by:

  • Microbial infections, such as the varicella-zoster virus (which causes chicken pox and shingles).
  • An underlying disease or condition, such as diabetes, shingles, or HIV/AIDs.
  • Nutritional deficiency such as lack of vitamin B12.
  • Chronic degenerative conditions that include autoimmune diseases, vasculitis, and cancer.
  • Adverse effects of numerous pharmaceutical drugs.

Studies demonstrate that cannabis can effectively treat neuropathic pain. For example, researchers at UC Davis Medical Center performed a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial to study the effects of low and medium-dose vaporized cannabis for the treatment of neuropathy (the low dose contained 1.3 percent THC and the medium dose contained 3.5 percent THC). Patients reported that vaporized cannabis, even at the lowest doses, provided relief for patients with treatment-resistant neuropathic pains.

A review of 15 double-blind, placebo-controlled trials conducted on more 1,600 patients with chronic neuropathy found that cannabinoids worked significantly better compared to the placebo in reducing neuropathy. Ten of the studies used a plant-derived, 1:1 oromucosal spray, three studies were with nabilone and dronabinol, and two studies used cannabis flower.

The delivery method you use to consume cannabis will influence the benefits that you derive from cannabis medicines, and understanding the delivery methods and corresponding absorption sites can help you identify which products are best suited to treat neuropathy. For example, a topical can provide local relief with few (if any) side effects, while a cannabis edible can provide longer, systemic relief and, over time, can reduce inflammation. Inhaling cannabis can relieve pain quickly and can give you the most control over your dose.

Finally, when treating shingles, it’s important to get enough sleep and avoid stress, and small doses of cannabis can help alleviate stress, help facilitate sleep onset, and extend sleep duration.

What Is Arnica?

Cathy Wong is a nutritionist and wellness expert. Her work is regularly featured in media such as First For Women, Woman's World, and Natural Health.

Meredith Bull, ND, is a licensed naturopathic doctor with a private practice in Los Angeles, California.

Verywell / Anastasia Tretiak

Arnica is an herb. It is in the sunflower family (Asteraceae).

Several species of Arnica contain an anti-inflammatory compound. This is thought to relieve pain, aches, and bruising. It is usually applied topically to the skin. Oral forms are also available.

This article discusses arnica, its uses, side effects, and preparation. It also looks at some of the research into its effectiveness.

What Is Arnica?

Arnica comes from the sub-alpine regions of western North America. It can also be found in arctic regions of Europe, Asia, and North America.

Arnica plants have long, downy leaves. Their flowers are daisy-like. They are bright yellow or orange and between 2 and 3 inches wide.

The anti-inflammatory ingredient in arnica is called helenalin . This compound is very toxic when consumed. It can also irritate the skin if it is not diluted.

Arnica is often sold as an over-the-counter (OTC) topical ointment, gel, or cream. It is also sold as a homeopathic topical application or oral pellet. Homeopathic remedies are highly diluted.

Other forms include:

  • Extracts
  • Tinctures
  • Oral supplements
  • Powders
  • Aromatherapy oil
  • Dried "wild-crafted" herb


Arnica is an herb believed to help relieve pain. It is available in topical and oral forms. It is very toxic if not diluted.

What Is Arnica Used For?

Arnica is commonly used in alternative medicine. It is claimed to treat:

  • Bruising
  • Pain or muscle soreness or aching joints

The plant can be toxic. Because of this, it is most often used in a homeopathic form. Homeopathic products contain very small amounts of an active ingredient.

Arnica is sold by homeopathic drug makers. It is used for a number of conditions, including:

There is limited evidence to support arnica's use in treating any condition. This does not necessarily mean it does not have benefits. It just means that clinical studies have so far been small and poorly designed. Many have contradictory findings.

Talk with a doctor before deciding if arnica is a safe option for you.


Arnica is used to treat a number of conditions, including arthritis and muscle soreness. To date, there is little evidence to support its use.


Osteoarthritis is often referred to as “wear-and-tear” arthritis. In this condition, the cartilage that protects the joints wears down over time. It is often treated with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

Arnica is thought by some to be a safe, natural alternative to NSAIDs.

In a 2013 review, Australian researchers looked at seven trials on topical herbal remedies for osteoarthritis.

Arnica gel appeared to work nearly as well as Advil (ibuprofen). Benefits included reducing pain and improving joint function in people with hand osteoarthritis.

However, 13% of those who used arnica gel had side effects. This is compared to 8% of Advil users. Some even reported an increase in joint stiffness and pain.

Post-Surgical Pain and Bruising

Proponents of arnica think it can reduce bruising and swelling after surgery. For this use, it is either applied topically or taken as an oral supplement.

A 2016 review suggested that the arnica species A. montana was a "valid alternative" to NSAIDs in treating:

  • Post-operative pain or swelling or bruising

Reviewers did state, though, that the results varied based on formulation and dosage.

Another review concluded there wasn't enough evidence to support the use of oral or topical arnica for swelling or bruising after surgery.

Muscle Pain

Muscle pain is also called myalgia. It is associated with a wide range of medical conditions. It can also happen after simple overuse of the muscles.

Most studies on arnica have focused on post-exercise muscle pain. Arnica has long been used for this purpose in sports supplements. Even so, there is little evidence to support its use.

One review of studies strongly endorsed the combined use of oral and topical arnica for muscle injuries.

The authors came to this conclusion even though four studies in the review found no benefits compared to a placebo. A placebo is a substance that contains no active ingredients.

Possible Side Effects

Arnica is known to cause side effects. This is true even when used in very diluted topical ointments or creams. More serious side effects can occur with oral forms.

Topical Use

In less-diluted formulas, arnica may cause a mild allergic reaction. This happens most often in people allergic to plants of the Asteraceae family. These plants include:

Arnica can also trigger increases in blood pressure and heart rate. This is more likely if used in excess or on broken skin.

More of the active ingredient can be absorbed through broken skin. On broken skin, arnica may also cause stinging.

Oral Use

Most homeopathic arnica remedies are very diluted. These are generally considered safe. Some forms, though, may contain detectable amounts of helenalin. These forms have health risks.

When taken by mouth, helenalin can cause:

  • Mouth and throat irritation
  • Stomach pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Easy bruising and bleeding
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • High blood pressure

Avoid oral preparations containing pure arnica. These are more likely to cause symptoms. They can also damage the heart and increase the risk of organ failure, coma, and death.

Contraindications and Interactions

In theory, arnica could slow blood clotting. Use of any non-homeopathic arnica should be discontinued two weeks before surgery. This will reduce the risk of postoperative bleeding.

Avoid arnica if you are taking blood-thinning drugs. The combination could increase your risk of bleeding and bruising.

These drugs include:

Little is known about the safety of arnica during pregnancy. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, ask your doctor before using arnica in any form.


Arnica may interact with other drugs. Avoid using it if you are taking blood-thinning medication.

Verywell / Anastasiia Tretiak​

Selection, Preparation, and Storage

Arnica montana is the species most often used for medical purposes. Chamissonis, A. longifolia, and A. gracilis are also sometimes used.

Most OTC arnica is very diluted. This results in gels, ointments, and extracts with little to no helenalin. This is also true for arnica powders, capsules, and other oral forms.

When purchasing arnica, look for brands that have been tested by an independent certifying body, such as:

  • U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP)
  • ConsumerLab
  • NSF International

This way, you can be sure the product label is accurate. You will also be able to tell if there is any helenalin in the product.

Also make sure the Latin name of the arnica species (such as Arnica montana) is on the product label. Be wary of any product that claims to contain "pure arnica."

Never buy dried wild-crafted arnica. Don't grow fresh arnica and use it to make teas or tonics. There is no way to safely dose arnica at home. Your exposure to helenalin is likely to be excessive, if not dangerous.

Most arnica preparations can be stored at room temperature. As a general rule, store them in their original containers. Keep them away from direct sunlight.

Never use more than the dose listed on the product label. Discard any arnica that is past its expiration date.


Arnica is an herb commonly used to treat pain. There is limited evidence to support its use.

Arnica is believed to help relieve pain associated with arthritis and muscle soreness. It is also used to treat post-surgical swelling and bruising. It is available in topical and oral forms.

When it is undiluted, arnica may cause side effects like nausea, rapid heart rate, and bruising or bleeding. It may also interact with blood-thinning drugs.

Always ask a doctor before using any natural remedy. Look for arnica that is diluted and has been tested by a third party.

A Word From Verywell

Herbal remedies aren't subject to the same regulatory standards as pharmaceutical drugs. Be cautious when using any such product. Always ask your doctor before trying any of these remedies.

Remember that even natural products can be dangerous. They may cause unwanted side effects or interact with other drugs or supplements.

Frequently Asked Questions

There is some evidence that topical arnica can treat inflammation related to osteoarthritis and swelling from injuries.

Oral arnica products have potentially toxic side effects. While some highly diluted homeopathic products may be safe, it’s best to ask your doctor before taking pills, tablets, tinctures, or oils.

Does CBD Oil Work For Shingles And Shingles Pain? 4 Clinical Studies Say Yes!

Today’s article seeks to answer a seemingly simple query. Does CBD oil will work for shingles? And, more specifically, does CBD oil work for shingles pain? In order to successfully answer this query and determine the effectiveness of CBD oil and cannabis-treatment for shingles, we must first understand what shingles is.


What Is Shingles?

Shingles is a viral infection that causes a painful rash anywhere on your body. Shingles commonly appears as a blistering-rash strip that wraps around either the right or left side of your upper body. Shingles is not considered a life-threatening condition but is characterised as being very painful.

What Causes Shingles?

Shingles is caused by a virus called the Varicella Zoster virus. It’s the same virus that causes chickenpox. If you’ve had chickenpox in the past, there’s a strong likelihood that the virus is still dormant in your body. The varicella zoster virus can remain dormant and symptomless for decades. When the virus re-awakens, it travels along your nerve fibers to your skin to cause the painful blistering-rash we call shingles. The varicella zoster virus is also called Herpes Zoster, but it is not the same virus that causes genital herpes.

The first time a person is exposed to the varicella zoster virus, it causes chickenpox. After the chickenpox episode, the virus settles in your nerve cells and reactivates decades later as shingles. Anyone that has had chickenpox can get shingles and the risk increases with age. It’s believed that people older than 60 are 10-times more likely to get shingles than younger people. Other factors, other than age, known to increase your risk of getting shingles include chronic stress, long-term trauma, a weakened immune system from conditions like HIV or cancer, some cancer medicines, and steroid medicines.

Shingles is contagious but not in the basic understanding of contagion. Your shingles rash, for example, will not cause an outbreak of shingles in another person. However, your shingles rash can most-likely cause an outbreak of chickenpox in a child. In addition, people who’ve never had chickenpox or the chickenpox vaccine can contract the virus from direct contact with open shingles’ sores. Hence, if you have shingles, it’s important to keep away from children, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems like chemotherapy patients, for example.

What Are The Symptoms Of Shingles?

According to the medical community, the early signs and symptoms of shingles manifest 1 – 5 days before the rash develops. The early warning signs include itching, tingling, burning, and pain in the area where the rash will develop. Other symptoms include a fever, chills, a headache, and an upset stomach. The most common location for the shingles rash outbreak is around one side of your waist. The second most common outbreak location is one side of your forehead, or around one eye.

The shingles rash is a distinctive cluster of fluid-filled blisters. Shingles blisters normally start to scab over in about 7 – 10 days. They can completely disappear in 2 – 4 weeks. Shingles blisters leave no scars in healthy people, and the pain and itchiness goes away in a few weeks to a few months. However, if you immune system is weakened, your shingles blisters take a lot longer to heal.

The pain and itchiness caused by shingles can linger for month or years after the blistering-rash has healed. The ongoing pain and itchiness is due to damaged nerves in the skin and beneath it. This is known as Post-Herpetic Neuralgia (PHN) and is described as a neuropathic pain syndrome that persists after a rash has healed. In severe cases, ongoing pain and/or itchiness in the once rash-affected area can lead to insomnia, depression, and weight loss.

When the virus attacks the nerves that control facial sensations and movement, this is called Ophthalmic Shingles. When this happens a blistering-rash appears around one of your eyes, and/or on one side of your forehead. Ophthalmic shingles is normally accompanied with a headache with other symptoms including redness and swelling of the eye, inflammation of your cornea or iris, a drooping eyelid, and blurred or double-vision.

According to the medical community, about 20 percent of people with shingles develop a rash across multiple dermatomes. Dermatomes are described as separate skin regions that are supplied by separate spinal nerves. When the virus affects 3-plus dermatomes in form of the rash, it’s called widespread (disseminated) zoster. In widespread zoster, the rash looks more like chickenpox than shingles and is more likely to occur in people with weakened immune systems.

What Are The Treatment Options For Shingles?

According to the medical community, there is no cure for shingles. However, the medical professionals believe that quick diagnosis and early treatment with antiviral medication can stop the attack. If your shingles is not stopped, doctors still believe antiviral medication can make your case shorter and milder. Doctors generally prescribe patients with Acyclovir (Zovirax), Famciclovir (Famvir), or Valacyclovir (Valtrex). Due to shingles causing severe pain, your doctor may also recommend:

    ; a topical patch used to relieve pain ; an anticonvulsant used to treat neuropathic pain ; a tricyclic antidepressant (TCA) used to treat depressive and anxiety disorders ; a numbing agent delivered via cream, gel, spray, or skin patch ; an opiate used to treat pain ; used to treat skin conditions

Medical professionals in the US recommend that healthy adults 50 years and above get a shingles vaccine. However, they warn NOT to get the vaccine if you have severe allergies to the ingredients, and if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Home remedies such as taking a cool bath or using a cool and wet compressions on your blisters may help relieve pain and itching. Another recommended solution is to reduce stress in your life as stress increases the risk of triggering shingles.

Does CBD Oil Work For Shingles Treatment?

Yes, CBD oil does work for treating Shingles. More specifically, CBD oil will help treat any pain and inflammatory symptoms, and postherpetic neuralgia associated with shingles. Cannabis is scientifically proven to be effective for treating neuropathic pain, which is the type of pain Shingles is characterized as.

How Effective Is CBD Oil For Treating Shingles Pain?

To answer this question, we need to look at the results of a 2015 peer reviewed journal, a 2009 peer review journal, a 2018 peer review journal, and a 2010 facial postherpetic neuralgia patient study. The results from these studies and journals will help you understand how effective cannabis therapy is for treating Shingles pain.

In 2015, researchers set out to assess the effectiveness of cannabis therapy in the management of chronic non-malignant neuropathic pain. The researchers rated and reviewed 13 studies using the Jadad Scale to measure the level of bias in pain research. The Jadad Scale is a procedure used to independently assess the methodological quality of a clinical trial.

Upon evaluating the results, the researchers found that cannabis provides effective pain-relief effects in chronic neuropathic pain conditions that were unyielding to other forms of treatment. They concluded their review by stating that cannabis therapy provides effective pain-relief effects in a large variety of neuropathic pain conditions. Examples of neuropathic pain conditions include but are not limited to the following:

  • Diabetes
  • Chronic alcoholism
  • Limb amputation
  • Herpes zoster infection (shingles)
  • Spinal surgery
  • Cancer and Chemotherapy drugs
  • Viral infections (i.e. HIV/AIDS)
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Facial nerve problems

In 2009, a peer-reviewed journal defined neuropathic pain as…

The researchers reviewed 183 clinical and pre-clinical studies to evaluate and validate the usefulness of cannabinoids for neuropathic pain management. In this review, neuropathic pain was associated with nerve injury, diabetes, chemotherapeutic treatment, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), multiple sclerosis (MS), and herpes zoster infection (shingles or chickenpox).

The researchers reviewed the effects of smoked marijuana, synthetic THC (e.g. Marinol, Cesamet), and cannabis-based medicines containing both THC and CBD (e.g. Sativex, Cannador) in human neuropathic pain patients. Objective and subjective models of pain and quality of life measurements were both considered for the review.

The authors discovered that the research and data published in the various trials pointed to an overwhelming agreement that neuropathic pain patients gain therapeutic benefits from cannabinoid treatment. The researchers concluded that…

“… clinical studies largely affirm that neuropathic pain patients derive benefits from cannabinoid treatment.”

Rahn, E.J., Hohmann, A.G. Cannabinoids as pharmacotherapies for neuropathic pain: From the bench to the bedside. Neurotherapeutics 6, 713–737 (2009).

In 2010, a researchers set out to investigate whether topical therapy with a cannabinoid receptor agonist helps provide pain relief in patients with postherpetic neuralgia caused by herpes zoster (shingles). An agonist is any substance that initiates a physiological response when combined with a receptor in your body. Postherpetic neuralgia is a difficult to treat common negative effect in shingles patients. It affects your nerve fibers and skin causing a burning pain that lasts long after your blistering-rash has disappeared.

The open-labeled study trialed 8 patients with postherpetic neuralgia caused by herpes zoster. They each received a cream containing a cannabinoid agonist called N-palmitoyl-ethanolamine (PEA). Results from the study revealed that 5 out of 8 patients (62.5%) saw an average pain reduction of 87.8%. The topical therapy was tolerated well by all patients and no negative side effects or unpleasant sensations were experienced. The study concluded that…

“… topical cannabinoid receptor agonists are an effective and well-tolerated adjuvant therapy option in postherpetic neuralgia.”

Phan NQ, Siepmann D, Gralow I, Ständer S. Adjuvant topical therapy with a cannabinoid receptor agonist in facial postherpetic neuralgia. J Dtsch Dermatol Ges. 2010 Feb;8(2):88-91. English, German. doi: 10.1111/j.1610-0387.2009.07213.x. Epub 2009 Sep 10. PMID: 19744255.

These results suggest that cannabis therapy in topical form may provide pain relief effects in patients with postherpetic neuralgia caused by shingles.

In 2018, researchers set out to evaluate the usefulness of medical cannabis treatment for neuropathic pain. The researchers examined the current scientific research and data from recent randomized controlled trials (RCTs). The studies reviewed had patients with a wide range of causes of neuropathic pain. The review included forms of cannabis therapy with varying cannabinoid concentrations and routes of administration. Many of the RCTs reviewed demonstrated the effectiveness of medical cannabis with the number-needed-to-treat (NNT) values in-line with current pharmacotherapies.

According to the researchers, there is evidence that supports the safety and effectiveness of short-term, low-dose cannabis vapourization and oral-mucosal delivery for the treatment of neuropathic pain. The results point to medical cannabis being as tolerable and effective as current neuropathic agents.

The authors conclude that though their findings are mostly positive, further research is needed to determine long-term effects of medical cannabis use, optimized dosing requirements, cannabinoid ratios, and alternate administration routes. Uncovering this information will help refine the therapeutic role of medical cannabis.

In Closing…

Cannabis therapy such as CBD oil is effective and useful for the treatment of Shingles. Specifically in regards to providing effective pain relief, anti-inflammatory effects. The studies and journals highlighted in today’s article clearly show how effective cannabis therapy is for treating neuropathic pain symptoms brought on by Shingles.

Moving forward, there should NOT be a doubt in your mind that you will be able to achieve effective treatment results from CBD oil use for pain and potential inflammation. In addition, you will also be able to derive benefit from topical cannabis therapy to treat postherpetic neuralgia caused by Shingles.

Your challenge now lies in finding a suitable CBD oil solution that will assist you in getting positive results. Regarding inflammation, CBD alone has been scientifically proven to provide anti-inflammatory effects. However, regarding pain, the best scientifically proven solution is CBD and THC in a 1:1 ratio. This will be challenging to find commercially as current regulation limits the amount of THC availability to either 0.3% or 0.2% in a given CBD oil product based on your location.

Some researchers have stated that high enough doses of CBD dominant solutions can provide pain relief effects. Yet, what those dose levels look like are unknown at the moment. Hence, it is best to work with a pro-cannabis medical professional to guide you through the process of finding your optimal dosage levels so you can achieve your desired results.

If a pro-cannabis medical professional is inaccessible to you in your area, then you may need to consider microdosing as your next option. As an example, microdosing marijuana is the practice of taking small amounts in order to reap the medical benefits of THC while avoiding its psychoactive effects. However, instead of microdosing marijuana, you may look into microdosong CBD oil to find your optimal dosage that produces the desired effects.

You would need to keep an active journal on hand to take note of a few variants such as:

  • The type of cannabis product purchased (oil, vape, flower, edibles, etc)
  • The CBD and/or THC concentration levels (number of mg’s per bottle)
  • The date of treatment commencement (start date)
  • The times of treatment administration (times of day, AM and PM)
  • The frequency of treatment administration per day (number of times per day)
  • The dosage amounts per administration (number of milligrams or drops per dose)
  • The noticeable effects after administration (positive, negative, or neutral)

Finally, if you are in the market for clean, pure, safe, and legally distributed CBD oil, then please visit our CBD Shops page. We have curated a list of online CBD oil retailers who meet our strict buying criteria. Our buying criteria is based on the research, data, and consumer feedback we’ve collated over time. We hope that one of our listed online CBD retailers is able to meet your needs as a consumer.