Countless of information is available about the ability of cannabis to treat chronic diseases, but can it also help fight something as simple as the flu? Common sense may tell you that smoking weed may not be the most sensible thing to do, especially if you are feeling under the weather. But what if you consider taking in cannabis in a different form, will it help?
Before we dig deeper into whether cannabis can or cannot help—let’s first talk about the flu. Just like the common cold, the flu is also a highly contagious viral infection which is particularly caused by influenza viruses. It mainly affects the upper and/or lower respiratory tract and with common symptoms such as coughing, chest discomfort, headaches, fever, fatigue, and bodily pain.
Since the flu is caused by a virus, there’s no cure for it (not even antibiotics). However, you can minimize its symptoms by taking OTC medicines, having plenty of rest, and drinking plenty of water.
You can also get natural remedies for symptoms relief—and this is the part where cannabis may help.
How cannabis affects the immune system
When viruses enter the body—say for example the influenza virus making its way to the lungs—your immune system will react to fight it. Your body’s immune system is triggered to respond to the viral attack, which causes increased inflammation and overproduction of mucus. The inflammation helps kill the virus, and the mucus carries the dead, infected cells and expels them from your body.
This is the reason why the common flu symptoms are coughing and fever—it’s your immune system’s way of fighting the virus.
And now, let’s take a look at how cannabis affects the immune system. Although there’s numerous research about how cannabis affects the human immune system, science isn’t 100% sure why.
Some studies show that it could be because of the cannabinoids’ ability to help suppress the immune system. Since the immune system sometimes overreacts in fighting viruses, it can cause chronic inflammation resulting in the death of even the healthy cells of your body—which can lead to serious after-effects. The cannabinoids in cannabis have an anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial effect that can assist your immune system in reducing its activity thereby helping in minimizing the inflammation.
Other recent research has found that cannabis contains flavonoids, an important antioxidant with anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties. While other studies show that cannabis helps the immune system by boosting it when necessary, such as the case of fighting an immediate treat like a flu virus.
But before you speed off to your favorite weed dispensary, consider the possible side effects before self-medicating with cannabis.
When it comes to the side effects of using cannabis to fight the flu, it’s necessary to dose appropriately and use it moderately. You should remember not to overuse it, as aside from the side effects caused by too much THC consumption, it is not beneficial to completely eliminate inflammation. Acute inflammation is still crucial for your body to kill the viruses.
Furthermore, you should ask your doctor or be cautious when using OTC flu medications together with cannabis to eliminate possible aggravating side effects. Take note also that when combining flu medications with cannabis use, it can intensify your drowsiness and may affect your cognitive function.
Lastly, you should not consider smoking weed when you have the flu because it can directly irritate your throat and lungs. This will cause increased inflammation in the affected area. Consider taking in marijuana products that won’t irritate your throat like edibles, tea-form, and tinctures.
As mentioned above, cannabis can be an effective relief in fighting flu symptoms due to its flavonoids and cannabinoids contents. Flavonoids are excellent anti-inflammatory phytonutrients. While cannabinoids also have effective antiviral, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory content.
Cannabinoids, specifically hemp-derived CBD, also have omega-3 fatty acids which are antioxidants that effectively fight free radicals. This, in turn, boost your immune system’s defenses against various threats. The cannabinoid THC also helps as a pain reliever, and assist in helping flu sufferers to sleep and relax.
Additionally, the cannabinoids in cannabis help strengthen your body’s endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system regulates the core functions of your body such as regulating your appetite, sleep, and even pain.
It is very promising as well that there are medical marijuana products that can help alleviate sinus pains, sore throats, and muscle aches. Some cannabis products can effectively boost your immune system preventing you from getting other illnesses. Visit your trusted medical marijuana shop and ask for recommendations or to see what works for you.
Since it is not recommended to smoke cannabis when you have the flu, below are five effective ways to take it in.
- Edibles – You can ingest it by eating edibles, or in supplement form. When you do this, you’ll benefit from getting CBD, THC, and other cannabinoids.
- Cannabis tea – You can try drinking cannabis-infused tea. This herbal tea not only helps you get the benefits of weed, but it also helps in soothing you and helping you sleep better.
- Tinctures – You can also take in oral cannabis oil and this will not irritate your throat at all.
- Steaming – Last but not least, you can place your cannabis oil in a hot bowl of water or a steamer and then inhale the steam.