Weed and the Common Cold

Posted May 19, 2022 at 2:23 p.m

Another La Niña could mean a dry and warm winter in Albuquerque, but chances are we’ll see plenty of cold and flu cases before spring returns. It seems like marijuana users will find any excuse to smoke weed, but is it really a good idea to use cannabis to treat your cold or flu?

security concerns

The truth is that very little is known about the health benefits or dangers of cannabis use. While the current scientific evidence on the use of the plant suggests that use when ill causes no lasting harm, this work is relatively small and there is little to no data on the use of cannabis for the common cold or flu.

So before you start lighting up that joint to ease your cough, stop and think about what you’re doing. Is your throat raw and itchy? Does smoking weed usually leave your throat feeling more or less rough and scratchy?

The truth is, cannabis is not the panacea some proponents and enthusiasts would have you believe it is. Smoking marijuana can irritate your esophagus, and if your throat is already sore, adding another irritant probably isn’t the answer.

Illnesses like the common cold or flu can leave victims feeling disoriented and dizzy. If you are new to cannabis or particularly sensitive to its effects, smoking weed may actually make these symptoms worse.

when it can help

With all of this in mind, cannabis could offer some health benefits to regular users and medical cannabis patients suffering from cold and flu symptoms.

antiphlogistic

While many health claims have been made about cannabis, the drug’s ability to fight inflammation has been tested time and again and appears to be consistently true. A 2011 article published in the journal Neuroscience Letters found that CBD helped reduce inflammatory pain in rats. A 2016 study by the European Journal of Pain found that CBD reduces pain and inflammation associated with arthritis. Another 2016 study published in the journal Gastroenterology and Hepatology discovered that marijuana can counteract the symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease.

This anti-inflammatory mechanism occurs when cannabinoids interact with CB2 receptors in the endocannabinoid system and help regulate the body’s inflammatory responses

Antimicrobial

Cannabinoids have been shown in some studies to have antimicrobial properties, or the ability to slow the spread of microorganisms and viruses like those that cause colds and flu. A 2020 study published in the journal Antibiotics found that several cannabinoids, including THC, CBD, and CBN, exhibited “potent antimicrobial activity” against pathogens and cleared biofilms. A 2021 study published in Communications Biology found that CBD “demonstrated remarkably useful antimicrobial activity beyond that previously described.”

expectorant

If you’ve ever had one of those choking, full-bodied weed coughs that made you gasp and tears running down your face, then you won’t be surprised by this next benefit of smoking cannabis while ill.

Cannabis is a natural expectorant – meaning it helps clear phlegm from the lungs and throat. As mentioned above, if your throat is already sore or irritated from coughing, then smoking will only make it worse. But when you’ve got some dirt deep in your lungs and you’re struggling to get rid of it, there aren’t many better ways to do it than with a serious pot hack-a-thon. It’s gross, but it works.

pain therapy

The power of marijuana to combat pain—both chronic and acute—is well known around the world. According to the most recent report from the New Mexico Department of Health and Human Services, 38,534 patients enrolled in the state’s medicinal cannabis program were recommended cannabis to treat chronic pain. It is the second largest group of cannabis patients after those suffering from post-traumatic stress.

sleeping pills

When the cold or flu is keeping you awake, a nice hint of indica will help lull you into a comfortable and restful sleep. Using cannabis as a sleep aid can be particularly helpful when a patient is taking other over-the-counter or prescription medications and has concerns about adding another drug to the list. Marijuana has been used for centuries as a safe and effective way to drift off to dreamland.

Smoking, edibles or wax?

As we’ve already mentioned, if your throat or lungs feel particularly raw or irritated, it’s probably best to avoid smoking cannabis to relieve these symptoms, as this will likely only make the problems worse. The problem is that smoking cannabis is undeniably the most medicinally beneficial way of using the drug. Vaping cannabis oil has been linked to lung health issues in recent years and doesn’t seem to be as “healthy” an alternative to smoking as it’s often touted.

In this case, edibles are a better option, although they will probably help you the most with insomnia. Edibles are problematic because it’s too easy to overeat and have an awkward time (a bad edibles trip would definitely only make a cold worse). They also don’t have the full terpene and cannabinoid profile that raw flower has, meaning they won’t necessarily have all of the medicinal benefits mentioned above.

CBD for relief

And if you’re looking for some of these benefits without the high, why not try CBD oil from a reputable manufacturer? As with edible and THC oils, CBD is an isolated compound and doesn’t have the same medicinal benefits as full profile flower, but CBD does have many of the benefits found in other cannabinoids – albeit to a lesser extent.

Whether or not you decide to use cannabis to treat your winter health issues, remember that nothing cures a cold like rest and a good bowl of soup.