Can Marijuana Help Treat Flu or Common Cold?
Winter often brings the dreaded colds and flu that can make us miserable. While many of us have our go-to remedies, some cannabis enthusiasts wonder if weed can provide relief during illness. However, with concerns about its impact on the respiratory system and potential exacerbation of symptoms, the question arises: Can cannabis alleviate cold or flu discomfort, or does it pose more harm than good?
The Respiratory Impact of Cannabis
Smoking and Respiratory Symptoms: Regular cannabis smoking, even when not sick, can lead to respiratory issues like coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. The heat of smoke can harm delicate lung tissue, potentially worsening conditions like asthma.
Vaping and Reduced Risk: Vaping has been found to lower the risk of chronic respiratory symptoms compared to smoking. Vaporizer users are less likely to report coughing and chest tightness. Vaping has fewer adverse effects on the respiratory system.
Impact on Illness: Smoking cannabis, even sporadically, can further irritate an already inflamed respiratory system during a cold or flu. Vaping may be a better option, but it could still exacerbate symptoms.
Weighing the Risks During Illness
Similar Symptoms: Colds and flu affect the respiratory system, causing symptoms similar to those experienced by chronic cannabis smokers, including inflamed throat, coughing, and shortness of breath.
Expert Advice: Dr. Jordan Tishler advises against inhaling cannabis during illness. Inhaled heat, particles, and toxins can worsen symptoms and weaken the body's defenses against viruses.
Best Practices: Edibles, tinctures, and topicals are recommended as alternatives to smoking or vaping during illness. Inhaled cannabis, even through vaporizing, may not be a net positive when dealing with respiratory infections.
Exploring Cannabis's Potential Benefits
Limited Research: While research on cannabis's effects during colds and flu is little, existing studies suggest that cannabis can ease aches, pain, insomnia, and increase appetite, common symptoms of such illnesses.
Bronchodilation Effect: Infrequent smoking may temporarily open airways, providing brief relief from shortness of breath or wheezing.
Expectorant Properties: Cannabis may act as an expectorant, aiding in the clearance of phlegm from the lungs and throat.
Anecdotal Evidence: Cannabis users report positive experiences in managing cold and flu symptoms. Anecdotes include relief from restlessness, improved sleep, and enhanced appetite. You can get access to medical cannabis by applying for a medical marijuana card online and begin your wellness journey.
Expert Advice on Using Cannabis During Illness
Respiratory Break: Experts and consumers agree that giving the respiratory system a break during illness is prudent. Instead of smoking, which can irritate already inflamed throats and lungs, experts recommend alternatives like edibles, tinctures, or topicals.
Dr. Jordan Tishler's Insights: Dr. Jordan Tishler, President of InhaleMD and the Association of Cannabinoid Specialists, is a vocal advocate for avoiding inhaled cannabis during illness. Inhaling cannabis exposes the respiratory system to heat, particles, and toxins that can worsen symptoms and weaken the body's defenses against viruses.
Inhaled Forms During Illness: Dr. Tishler advises against smoking, vaping, and other forms of inhalation during illness. He suggests that patients with asthma or COPD often find that inhaling cannabis exacerbates their condition even when not sick.
A Net Positive?: Dr. Tishler acknowledges limited research on the topic. However, he asserts that using non-inhaled forms of cannabis during a respiratory illness is likely safe, although not necessarily a guaranteed positive experience. He notes that some individuals might feel better while intoxicated, while others may find it unpleasant.
Potential Risks and Considerations
Weed and the Flu: Combining the flu's symptoms of weakness and dizziness with the potential effects of certain weed strains—like lightheadedness—can lead to an undesirable situation. It's advisable to avoid experimenting with high doses of cannabis when dealing with the flu.
The Need for Caution: While some may believe that cannabis can provide comfort during illness, the potential risks and interactions with respiratory symptoms and the flu suggest that caution should prevail.
Exploring Cannabis's Effects on Cold and Flu Symptoms
Research Landscape: Although there's limited specific research on cannabis's impact on colds and flu, existing studies suggest that cannabis could relieve common symptoms associated with these illnesses.
Cannabis and Symptom Relief: Cannabis has been known to alleviate aches, pain, insomnia, headaches, and increase appetite—all of which are symptoms commonly experienced during colds and flu.
Bronchodilation Effect: Research indicates that infrequent cannabis smoking could lead to temporary bronchodilation, allowing individuals to take deeper breaths. This effect may provide short-lived relief from shortness of breath or wheezing.
Drying and Expectorant Properties: Some experts suggest that cannabis might help dry upper respiratory secretions, similar to its ability to cause dry mouth. Additionally, cannabis can act as an expectorant, aiding in the clearance of phlegm from the lungs and throat.