Can Cannabis Help You Beat the Cold or Flu?

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Feeling sick, sniffly or achey? You aren’t the only one. Cold and flu season is still upon us, and this year the flu has been particularly bad with a recent study reporting that in Canada the flu vaccine has only had a 17% effective rate against this year’s cold and flu culprit, the H3N2 virus. With high rates of the flu and other viruses, many are looking for healing and relief from these unwelcome bugs. Could marijuana be an aid to this healing process? With its anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties, this healing herb might be just what the doctor ordered.

The Flu & The Common Cold

The flu and the common cold are both illnesses that affect the respiratory system. While they’re caused by two different types of viruses, they’re very similar and have a lot of symptoms in common. If you’re suffering from either, you likely have some of these telltale signs:

  • Sore throat
  • Fatigue
  • Sneezing
  • Stuffy nose
  • Chest discomfort
  • Fever
  • Aches
  • Chills
  • Headache

These cold and flu viruses work by spreading from person to person, usually through some kind of intermediary object. One person sneezes and then touches a door handle. Another person uses the same handle and then touches their nose or eye. Once the virus has made its way into the human body, its presence triggers the immune system. Wherever the virus spreads, the body reacts with inflammation, mucous secretions and whatever else it can do to eliminate the virus from the system.

Can You Treat Your Cold or Flu With Cannabis?

Cannabis may be able to help ease symptoms of a cold or the flu—from reducing inflammation to relieving pain. But these symptom- relieving properties aren’t the only way this powerful plant can help when you get sick.

Cannabinoids, the compounds found in the marijuana plant, can also activate the endocannabinoid system (ECS), an important system of receptors that modulate many human processes, including the immune response. In studying how the ECS works, researchers have discovered that cannabinoids can actually help the immune system function better.

Avoiding Inhaled Cannabis Consumption Methods

You can consume cannabis when you have a respiratory infection like the cold or flu, but inhaled options like smoking and vaping aren’t recommended since the heat can dry out your lungs and throat. This, plus the potential for increased allergies, makes inhaled methods of marijuana not ideal for flu and cold recovery.

Best Method for Healing: Tea With Cannabis Oil

Drinking tea is one great way to consume cannabis when you’re feeling sick. Add a marijuana oil to your tea along with other healing herbs, and you can create a soothing, healing drink. Echinacea is a great choice, since it’s an herbal tea recommended for immune health. Combining the two could create a potent immune booster.

Cannabis tea is an especially great option when you have a sore throat, because coating a sore throat in cannabinoids like cannabidiol (CBD) or tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) can help reduce inflammation and lessen pain in the tender areas. It may also reduce body aches and help you feel more relaxed and sleepy, which can help you get more rest and aid in a quicker recovery.

If you’re new to cannabis or want to avoid feeling too disoriented from your cannabis experience, start with an oil high in CBD, rather than THC. The non-psychoactive cannabinoid CBD can help reduce inflammation and ease pain without making you feel high. While THC can be very medicinal, its best to adjust to psychoactive substances when you aren’t dealing with other disorienting factors such as a fever.

Cannabis Topicals to Ease Aches & Pains

Another option for a non-psychoactive medicinal experience is using cannabis topicals. These cannabis-infused creams and lotions can help ease the aches and pains without affecting your mental state. Put it on your inflamed joints, sore back, throbbing temples, or anywhere you’re experiencing pain on your body.

If you have the cold or flu and want to try cannabis, a good first step is to consult with a doctor who specializes in cannabinoid medicine. They can help guide you towards the best option for you, while they review all of your symptoms.

From reducing inflammatory responses, to easing the aches and pains of illness, to making things feel a little more bearable, cannabis can be a big help in your recovery. Try it for yourself and see what a difference it can make—it might be just what you need to survive this cold and flu season.

Photo credit: Dominik Martin