Cannabis For Cold & Flu: Can Weed Help Fight The Common Cold?
As research has started to show, cannabis produces a variety of cannabinoids and other compounds with therapeutic potential. But are they able to help alleviate cold and flu symptoms? We can’t say for certain, but the current studies out there look promising.
The common cold and flu can spread through an office or campus like wildfire. Sit next to the wrong person, and you could find yourself coming down with something the next day. Sure, minor colds might give you a stuffy nose for a few days. At the same time, if you get a bad case of the flu, it can knock you down for a couple of weeks.
Now, most people reach for acetaminophen and copious amounts of tea when feeling under the weather. Those are all great, but there might be other (read: more fun) options to help take the edge off. What’s better, those options come in the form of delightful cannabis buds.
WHAT CAUSES THE COMMON COLD?
Over 200 different viruses can cause symptoms of the common cold. Sure, old wives tales blame chilly weather as the culprit, but the condition could actually be underpinned by hundreds of different microbes.
People come down with symptoms of the common cold after breathing in viral particles. These pathogens usually enter your lungs after you’ve been near someone coughing, sneezing, or simply breathing. You’re also vulnerable if you touch a contaminated surface and wipe your mouth/pick your nose without washing your hands.
The common cold can strike at any time, but infection rates increase dramatically during autumn and winter. The lack of humidity during these months causes the nasal passages to become dry, contributing to infection. The start of the academic year also means there are more people in close proximity, which helps cold viruses spread.
Several risk factors also increase a person’s chances of catching a cold. These include:
• Being young or old: The youngest and oldest people are most at-risk for serious cases
• Having a compromised immune system
• Being a frequent smoker
HOW COMMON COLDS AFFECT THE BODY
Colds viruses, right off the bat, cause upper respiratory infections. When viral particles first enter the airways, your immune system rises to the occasion.
White blood cells will first differentiate between foreign pathogens and the body’s own cells. Once they identify the enemy, these white blood cells—including leukocytes and natural killer cells—being to wage war.
Soon after, the adaptive immune system kicks in. White blood cells manufacture antibodies specifically designed to combat the new pathogen. These proteins mean the body can defend itself against future infections by the same pathogen.
You’ll experience many physical symptoms during this microscopic war. These usually include:
• Stuffy nose
• Low-grade fever
Most people recover before anything else happens. It doesn’t fade as easily for everyone, though. Symptoms of an advanced cold include:
• Ear infection
• Strep throat
• Chest infection
CAN CANNABIS HELP RELIEVE COMMON COLD SYMPTOMS?
No cure exists for the cold. You simply need to endure it until the body defeats the pathogen. However, conventional approaches like painkillers and decongestants are designed to reduce symptoms. Alternative treatments such as zinc, vitamin C, and other herbal remedies also appear to help.
Cannabis, as it turns out, might belong in the latter category. Humans have used the herb to address many different ailments for thousands of years. Sceptical of ancient practices, though? Modern scientific analysis has also shown that many of the phytochemicals in cannabis possess therapeutic potential.
That being said, little to no evidence exists that cannabis can alleviate the common cold. No human trials have demonstrated if the herb helps or hurts the body as it works to kill the virus. However, certain chemicals within the plant show the potential to help tackle some of the symptoms.
All of the symptoms of the common cold stem from inflammation  . Your immune system—not the pathogen—underpins symptoms such as a sore throat and runny nose. The body instigates an inflammatory response for a key reason: to allow white blood cells easier passage through the tissues to reach the site of infection.
Although inflammation serves a purpose, it can lead to uncomfortable sensations. Hence, anti-inflammatory drugs such as NSAIDs are often advised to reduce cold symptoms. As it happens, cannabis also produces molecules with anti-inflammatory potential.
Research published in the European Journal of Pharmacology  in 2019 tested the effects of CBD on airway inflammation in mice with asthma. After administering CBD, they found the cannabinoid to not only decrease inflammation symptoms, but to improve their airway remodelling processes. CBD was believed to exert these immunomodulatory effects via signalling of CB1 and CB2 receptors.
Previous research published in 2015  found CBD to improve lung function and inflammation in mice. Additional research published in Immunopharmacology  examined the effects of THC and CBD on cytokine production in human immune cells. Cytokines are signalling molecules used to drive inflammatory responses. Fortunately, both THC and CBD were observed to strongly inhibit cytokine production.
Along with inflammation, CBD may help to reduce cold and flu-related pain. For example, a 2007 study  found CBD to act as an orally effective therapeutic agent for chronic inflammatory and neuropathic pain in mice.
However, it might work better for pain when taken alongside THC. Researchers found that CBD enhanced  and prolonged THC’s pain-reducing effects when the two cannabinoids were given to mice in combination.
Neither of these studies say anything about how these treatments will work for humans. Considering that, though, they’re promising starting points for future research.
Lack of sleep seriously disturbs immune function. In fact, people who are sleep deprived are more likely to get sick  after being exposed to a common cold virus. In turn, getting a good amount of sleep while sick can also change how fast your body recovers.
Adding another potential benefit to the checklist, studies suggest that CBD may help people fall asleep  and stay asleep. Researchers believe these effects are partly caused by a reduction in anxiety that otherwise keeps people awake.
THC may also help to decrease the amount of time  it takes to fall asleep. However, heavy and long-term use appears to actually decrease sleep quality  by reducing REM sleep.
Many cannabis strains also produce high levels of the terpene myrcene. The molecule displays soporific effects, with research  showing it to enhance muscle relaxation and increase sleep time in mice.
DOES SMOKING CANNABIS MAKE A COLD OR FLU WORSE?
So far, we’ve been making a good case for cannabinoids. The act of smoking, however, is another issue.
Of course, letting carcinogenic compounds into your airways when you have a respiratory illness won’t do your body any favours. No evidence suggests that doing so will make your condition worse, but it makes sense to avoid it. Harsh smoke might exacerbate an already sore and dry throat, ultimately making those symptoms worse.
WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO USE CANNABIS FOR THE COMMON COLD?
Thankfully, you can consume cannabis in many different ways. Even better, most of them don’t involve passing hot smoke down your sore, cold-ridden throat.
MAKE YOUR OWN CANNABIS TEA
A warm cup of tea does wonders to lift the spirits when you’re cold-stricken. In turn, adding a touch of cannabis to the mix might be just what you need to ease your symptoms. Cannabis tea allows users to avoid inhaling anything, and it produces more intense effects than smoking. Use our simple recipe to brew up a batch next time you start feeling a cold coming on.
The common cold often causes fatigue and aching muscles. It just so happens that topical CBD can potentially help stave off these issues. Since you’re applying it directly to the skin as a gel, lotion, or balm, it’s able to more directly target the source of the issue.
Edibles allow users to bypass smoking, sending cannabinoids directly through the GI tract and into the bloodstream. Edibles take longer to set in due to their extended metabolic pathway, but the effects are often much more pronounced. You can even make cannabutter at home to infuse your favourite dish with high levels of THC, CBD, or both.
Unlike smoking, vaping’s low temperatures preserve every cannabinoid in the bud or concentrate. By only heating a bit past the decarboxylation point, the cannabinoids and terpenes can be vaporized without burning plant matter. This lack of combustion makes inhaling cannabinoids much less harsh on the throat.
DOES CBD OIL HELP WITH THE COMMON COLD?
Well, we don’t have any evidence that CBD oil will help cure your cold. However, the studies we covered above suggest that the cannabinoid might help relieve some of the symptoms. High-quality, full-spectrum CBD oils also bring lots of synergistic cannabinoids and terpenes in tow, many of which could potentially offer further symptom relief.
SHOULD YOU USE CANNABIS IF YOU HAVE A COLD OR FLU?
The jury is still out. Really, it depends on the individual. The only way to truly know if it works for you is to give it a go. Carefully dose out your cannabinoids as your immune system gets to work, and pay attention to see if your symptoms begin to reduce.Humans have used cannabis for holistic purposes for thousands of years, but could it possibly help with one of the most common health issues out there?
Cold Medicine and CBD Oil: Potential Side Effects and Benefits
Cold Medicine and CBD Oil: Potential Side Effects and Benefits
Depending on the type of cold medicine you’re using, adding CBD oil to the mix could cause you to feel more drowsy than normal.
If you’re dealing with a bad cold you may find yourself reaching for something in the medicine cabinet, but before you do, you may want to find out how CBD oil can help.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of 100+ cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant, and unlike the cannabinoid, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), it does not produce the mind-altering “high” associated with marijuana consumption.
CBD oil can, however, reduce inflammation and boost the immune system, making it an ideal supplement when you’re feeling under the weather.
If you want to combine CBD oil with your cold medication, or want to better understand how CBD oil can help relieve the symptoms of your cold, here’s what you need to know.
Interactions Between CBD and Cold Medicine
There are a few cold medications that can react negatively with CBD oil.
The biggest risk comes from combining two compounds that share a comparable function. While the relaxing properties of CBD oil alone may be mild, when you add another product that produces a similar sedating effect, the results can be amplified to an undesirable degree.
Cough medicines in particular often contain ingredients that promote sleep. As CBD oil can also have a calming effect, the combined outcome can be sedation that’s stronger than you may have prepared for. While this may not be an issue at night time, it is worth noting if you are taking your CBD oil and cold medicine during the day or any other time you need to be awake and alert (e.g. while driving).
Additionally, CBD oil slows down the cytochrome P450 (CP450) system, a collection of enzymes in your liver that process many different medications. The CP450 system breaks certain compounds, including some ingredients found in common cold medicines, down into smaller pieces, allowing the body to more easily make use of them. When CBD oil slows this system, medications may remain in the body for longer periods, making their side effects more likely to occur.
With that in mind, there are a few ingredients found in cold medications you should look for if you’re also taking CBD oil. For your reference, here’s a table outlining the most common active ingredients in cold medicine and the potential outcome when taken with CBD oil.
|Ingredient||Possible interaction when combined with CBD oil|
|Pheniramine – Found in flu and combination cold medicines (e.g. Theraflu and Scot-Tussin products)||May increase the risk of side effects and potential for drowsiness when used with CBD oil|
|Phenylephrine – Found in decongestants (e.g. Neo-Synephrine; Sudafed PE Congestion; Vazculep)||Increased risk of high resting heart rate when used with CBD oil|
|Pseudoephedrine – Found in decongestants (e.g. Sudafed Congestion; SudoGest; Sudafed 12-Hour; Entex)||Increases risk of serotonin syndrome when used with CBD oil|
|Naproxen – Found in anti-inflammatory medications (e.g. Aleve and Naprosyn)||May make CBD oil less effective|
|Acetaminophen – Found in pain relievers (e.g. Tylenol)||No known interactions|
|Chlorpheniramine – Found in a variety of antihistamines (allergy reducers)||May increase the risk of side effects and potential for drowsiness when used with CBD oil|
|Doxylamine – Found in some anti-anxiety and sedation medications (e.g. SleepAid; Unisom Sleep Tabs; Equate Sleep Aid)||May increase the drowsy or calming effects of CBD oil|
|Guaifenesin – Found in expectorants (e.g. Mucinex; Robitussin Chest Congestion; Robafen; Tussin)||No known interactions|
If you begin to notice unwanted effects after using CBD oil with any cold medication, do not continue with the combination and speak to your doctor.
CBD Oil for Treating Cold Symptoms
The next time you’re sick, before reaching for your cold medication, consider using CBD oil. Not only is CBD oil widely well-tolerated with a good safety profile, it can have positive effects on many of the most common cold symptoms. In addition, because of cannabidiol’s antibacterial properties, CBD oil can keep a cold at bay by helping your immune system fight the intruder at the source.
CBD for Congestion
One of the most annoying cold symptoms is nasal congestion. While research is not yet conclusive, there is evidence to suggest that CBD oil may be useful in clearing blocked sinuses. Targeting the inflammation, CBD can calm the membranes that line your nasal passages, decreasing congestion and opening up those airways.
CBD for Fevers
There are many reasons you might develop a fever when you’re sick. It may be caused by your body fighting a viral infection, like the common cold, or a sign of inflammation taking place within. If the fever is brought on by a virus, early research suggests cannabinoids could play a role in inhibiting its progression.
Alternatively, if the fever is part of a larger inflammatory reaction, the use of CBD oil can trigger an anti-inflammatory response through its action in your body’s endocannabinoid system.
CBD for coughs and sneezes
Research has shown that the properties of CBD oil include not only anti-inflammatory effects, but muscle-relaxant qualities too. This is particularly of interest if you’re suffering from a persistent cough, as CBD oil may reduce the inflamed airway and relax the muscles to reduce coughing.
CBD oil may also block histamines, the compounds responsible for inducing bouts of coughing and sneezing. While CBD oil hasn’t been proven to be as effective as the antihistamine ingredients in cold medication, it does offer the potential for a more natural treatment.
How to Safely Use CBD Oil and Cold Medicine Together
For starters, talk to your doctor. Although CBD oil is largely side effect-free and well-tolerated, there could be factors in your personal health history that warrant extra caution before using CBD.
Furthermore, if you wish to safely combine CBD oil and cold medication, avoid ingredients which may cause negative interactions (see the table in ‘Interactions Between CBD and Cold Medicine’ above). Also, keep in mind any cold or flu medicines advertised as helping with sleep may have amplified effects when used with CBD oil.
It is suggested that you either take the combination before bed or spread their use over the day; for example take CBD oil in the morning and cold medicine at night. Alternatively, you can opt to combine non-drowsy cold medicine with your CBD oil. Just be aware of whether the medications contain any ingredients metabolized by your body’s cytochrome P-450 pathway to best avoid unpleasant side effects.
Safest CBD Oils to Take with Cold Medication
There is an incredible variety of cannabidiol products available online and in-store, so how do you find the safest CBD oil?
Narrow down the options by first deciding the method you’d like to use to take your CBD oil. If you are suffering from a cold, it’s likely that your respiratory system isn’t operating at full capacity. For that reason, it’s best to ingest your CBD instead of inhaling it (i.e. via CBD vape or flower). Using CBD oil drops, tinctures, edibles, or capsules will cause the least disruption to your body as it is trying to heal.
When you’ve made the decision on how you’ll be taking your CBD oil, ensure you choose the safest product by doing your research into quality CBD brands.
The best companies use sustainably sourced hemp which has been organically grown without the use of herbicides, pesticides, or chemical additives. For peace of mind, check the product’s Certificate of Analysis (COA), which will clarify whether the CBD product contains any heavy metals or toxins. The COA will also indicate how much CBD and THC is in your product, amongst other cannabinoids and terpenes, so you’ll know if the dosage is accurate. Ideally, the COA should be published by a third-party laboratory, ensuring it is not subject to bias.
Remember, when it comes to your health, it’s worth taking the time to find the best quality CBD products.
If you found this article interesting you may also be interested in:If you’ve come down with a cold, there are a few side effects and benefits you should know about before combining your cold medication with CBD oil. ]]>