Flu season is in full swing and people are looking for relief wherever they can find it. CBD (cannabidiol) is often promoted as a way to diminish the symptoms of flu and common cold, but does it actually work?
You always know when it hits; sore throat, stuffy nose, coughing and sneezing eventually give way to fever, body aches, and extreme fatigue. It’s the flu (influenza), and it’ll knock you down like you’ve been hit by a bus. For most adults with a healthy immune system, symptoms will disappear after about a week (although it feels never ending). Can smoking or vaping high-CBD hemp flowers help with the flu?
Aside from loading yourself up with a cocktail of over-the-counter cold medications, pain relievers, and cough drops, is there anything else you can do to manage the symptoms? Unsurprisingly, many people swear by cannabis-based products, CBD flowers are particularly popular. And let’s be honest, wouldn’t it be nice to be able to light up a joint and feel better?
There are no published studies researching this specific use for CBD, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it doesn’t work. Let’s investigate further.
THC vs CBD
To quickly clarify, in this article we’ll be discussing the effects of smoking CBD flowers when sick with flu. CBD-dominant hemp flowers differ from THC-dominant cannabis flowers in a number of ways. First of all, they’re non-psychoactive. This makes it much more likely that people will use CBD flowers in a medicinal way, since these can be smoked throughout the day without causing the user to be mentally impaired.
That’s not to say that THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) doesn’t offer any medical benefits of its own, but each cannabinoid is unique. Typical medical uses for THC include depression, pain, nausea and problems with appetite, insomnia, and it’s also believed to have neuroprotective qualities. CBD on the other hand, is most commonly used to treat anxiety, inflammation, epilepsy, and addiction to other substances.
Both THC and CBD, as well as other cannabinoids including CBG, are believed to have antiviral and antibacterial properties, and this is the main reason people are using it to fight the cold and flu.
The (limited) Research on CBD and the Flu
As expected, you’d be hard pressed to find a general practitioner who would suggest smoking CBD flowers to treat the flu. There are some naturopathic doctors who agree that there is a possibility it could work, although the evidence just isn’t there at the moment.
Dr. Shawn Meirovici, a naturopathic doctor from Toronto had this to say on the subject: “The cannabinoids THC and CBD have been shown to have pain-relieving, sleep-inducing, and anti-inflammatory properties,” he says. “So, on your sick day when you’re wrapped in a blanket cannabis may help reduce body aches, ease inflammation of the airways, and increase relaxation to help you sleep.”
He also suggested that cannabis may also have “antipyretic or fever-reducing properties, due to its ability to suppress the immune system.” He also pointed out that CBD has some anti-viral properties that could be helpful for fighting influenza.
There is one thing to take note of though, and that the fact that some preliminary research suggests CBD, and THC, might actually hinder the immune system’s ability to fight certain infections. This means that, even though CBD is providing some symptom relief, it might actually prolong the time it takes for a virus to run its course.
And yes, I know this directly contradicts other studies regarding CBD and immunity, but this is exactly why more large-scale research is so desperately needed. “The research has been primarily in vitro or in rats; there hasn’t been any studies on humans to date,” added Dr. Meirovici.
I want to use CBD for my flu, what should I do?
Bottom line, don’t smoke.
If you’ve done your due diligence and believe that CBD is the best treatment option for you, it’s advisable that you stay away from smoking or vaping it while you’re sick with the flu. Although it might feel nice for a short period, the smoke and heat can further irritate mucus membranes, making a cough or sore throat that much worse.
The best way to use CBD in this scenario would be in the form of a beverage. Something soothing like CBD-infused tea, CBD-infused honey (always go for raw, unfiltered honey if that’s an option), or just a simple CBD tincture that you can add to your drink of choice.
What ever you chose to do, the most important thing is get your rest, since your immune system is working in overdrive to get your body back to normal.