- The flu season is in full swing and flu sufferers are looking for relief anywhere they can find it.
- Cannabis is often regarded as a way of alleviating the symptoms of the flu and the common cold.
- But does it really work?
You always know when you have caught the flu: you develop a sore throat, a stuffy nose, coughing and sneezing that lead to a temperature, muscle pain, and extreme fatigue. These are flu (influenza) symptoms, and will strike you down as if you had been hit by a bus. But in most adults with a healthy immune system these symptoms disappear after approximately one week, even though it may feel much longer.
So on top of loading up with a cocktail of cold medication, analgesics and cough lozenges, is there anything else we can do to control the flu symptoms? As you might expect, many people put their trust in cannabis.
There are no published research studies looking into the specific use of cannabis for the treatment of the flu, but this does not necessarily mean that cannabis cannot be beneficial: there is evidence suggesting that using cannabis responsibly can help alleviate the flu symptoms.
Limited research on cannabis and the flu
THC and CBD, as well as other cannabinoids like CBG, are believed to hold antiviral and antibacterial properties, and this is the main reason why some people use cannabis to fight colds and the flu.
The cannabinoids THC and CBD have also been proven to have anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce muscle pain, alleviate inflammation of the respiratory tract, and increase relaxation to help with sleep.
Other research studies also suggest that cannabis may exhibit antipyretic or fever-reducing properties due to its ability to suppress the immune system, although this could hinder the immune system's ability to fight certain infections. This means that, despite cannabis providing certain relief of the symptoms, in reality it could lengthen the time that the virus is present.
These contradictions are the reason why large-scale research on cannabis is desperately needed, as so far all the studies have been conducted mainly in vitro or on rats. To date there have not been any human studies on this.
If I want to use cannabis to help with the flu, what do I need to do?
Simply put, do not smoke cannabis if you're sick with the flu. It is not advised to either smoke or vape cannabis during this time. You might feel great for a short period of time, but smoke and heat will end up irritating your mucose membranes even further, which will worsen your cough or sore throat.
A better option is ingesting cannabis. This way you will benefit from all the advantages of cannabinoids but without getting the negative side effects linked to combustion. There is nothing like a warm cup of tea to get rid of the flu. Marijuana-infused tea has become extremely popular, as it is a non-conventional method to benefit from all the properties of weed. If you take cannabis tea whilst suffering from the flu, you'll probably sleep better and feel better as a whole.
Cannabis oils and tinctures are other popular ways of consuming marijuana without irritating the mucous membranes. Tinctures are liquid extracts from plants or plant matter, explicitly intended for oral use. Using tinctures is really simple: just drop the liquid under your tongue; it is best to let it be absorbed before swallowing, so wait for approximately one minute before doing this.
Is it safe to combine flu medication with cannabis?
Cannabis must be used with precaution whilst taking flu or cold medication. Some over-the-counter drugs modify the way in which the body processes the psychoactive components of marijuana, which can lead to overly enhanced effects.
Although there are no serious risks connected to this, the combination of cannabis with cold or flu medication may produce sedative effects, which can in turn affect cognitive function and increase drowsiness. Concentrating or taking decisions may become more difficult.
In addition, many of these drugs produce characteristic side effects in susceptible users, which may include dry mouth, confusion, blurred vision, heart rate disturbances, or loss of balance. If we add cannabis into the equation, these effects may actually worsen.
In order to avoid the risk of adverse effects whilst taking medication for the flu, it is best to wait to use cannabis if you are an occasional user, or to stick to your normal dosage if you are a regular user.