At Happy Travelers Tours we’ve seen the effect of smoking weed while sick first hand. Our opinion: give yourself a break – you’re ill for a reason and smoking weed while sick is, really, just a waste of good cannabis!

However, in the cause of cannabis education, here is some information about smoking weed while sick.

Not feeling well? You may want to reach for the CBD instead of the THC

Using marijuana while you have a cold or flu is a matter of personal preference—though we do recommend avoiding smoking (no spliffs or joints), as it can irritate your lungs, and opting for vaporizers, edibles, or topicals instead.

Both THC and CBD are known and scientifically proven for their pain relief properties, and they should be used responsibly when you’re sick, just as when you’re healthy, too. For example, be careful with consumption amounts on edibles, even if you think you need or want a stronger dosage than usual. The only thing more unpleasant than getting too high is getting too high while you’re also sick.

It is important to note that CBD, the non-psychoactive cannabinoid that is legal in all 50 states, is anti-bacterial—which means that it won’t help fight the source of the common cold or flu, which are virus infections.

With that said, the anti-inflammatory properties of CBD can help with unplugging sinus infections and increasing respiratory ease regardless of whether you’re suffering from a bacterial or viral infection.

CBD can be either ingested as oil or applied topically. There are even CBD bath bombs these days, so you can take a chest-opening steaming bath and get your CBD fix at the same time.

THC, on the other hand, can potentially suppress the immune system. Please review the 2010 University of South Carolina study published by the European Journal of Immunology and led by Dr. Prakash Nagarkatti.

The study indicates THC can trigger a unique type of immune cell called myeloid-derived suppressor cells, MDSCs. This study was done specifically in regards to immune cells’ ability to kill cancer cells—not virus or bacterial infections. What we know for certain, though, is that getting high is not a magical cure for your stuffy nose and cough.

Got a fever?

Avoid getting high—most people who have experienced getting high with a fever claim that it is unpleasant, though there are no long-term side effects. You may experience more dizziness or nausea, for example. To truly make yourself feel better, consider using a topical for your aching joints, throat, chest, and forehead. After application, wrap it up with a hot steamy towel or sit in the sauna (or just turn the shower on)—you may even enjoy this more than drugstore vapor rub.

We do always recommend consulting your own doctor first before you self-medicate.

Some people believe that smoking weed can help alleviate the symptoms of the common cold. If true, this could be due to the anti-inflammatory compounds present in cannabis.

Other people believe either that smoking cannabis has no effect on a cold or that it could make symptoms worse. Indeed, burning cannabis produces heat and smoke, both of which are likely to irritate the sinuses, potentially exacerbating respiratory symptoms.

Currently, there is no direct research on the effects that smoking weed has on a cold. However, research into the general health effects of cannabis use can help shed light on this area.

The general health effects of cannabis smoking can be difficult to gauge. One reason for this is that different strains of cannabis contain varying concentrations of the active compounds delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).

THC is the psychoactive compound that alters a person’s mood, while CBD is the compound that provides the purported health benefits of the drug.

Despite the lack of direct research into smoking weed with a cold, there are several related questions that research may help answer. We consider some of these below.

Will smoking weed cure a cold?

Proponents of cannabis often promote weed smoking as a cure-all for minor health issues, such as the common cold.

However, there is no scientific evidence to suggest that smoking weed will cure a cold.

Does smoking weed help with cold symptoms?

Cannabis contains compounds called cannabinoids and terpenoids. According to a 2018 article in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, these compounds may have anti-inflammatory effects on the body. These effects may help alleviate some of the inflammatory symptoms of a cold, including:

  • puffy eyes
  • pressure headaches
  • inflamed sinuses

Smoking weed may also help lessen general aches and pains, which are common symptoms of a cold. A 2019 review states, cannabinoids reduce feelings of pain in many people, even those who experience chronic pain.

Again, there is no evidence relating specifically to cold symptoms. Anyone considering using weed to help with these symptoms may wish to consider scientifically proven options first.

Can smoking weed make a cold worse?

Opponents of cannabis use may be more likely to claim that smoking weed can worsen a cold.

There is no evidence to suggest that smoking weed makes a cold last longer or that it suppresses the body’s ability to fight a cold. However, some research suggests that smoking weed may aggravate certain cold symptoms.

A 2018 review found evidence linking weed smoking to respiratory symptoms, such as coughing, wheezing, and mucus production. A person who already has these symptoms due to a cold may find that they become worse after smoking weed.

While some people say that smoking helps with inflammatory symptoms, others argue that the heat and smoke can make these symptoms worse.

People who want to smoke weed to alleviate a cold should, therefore, consider other methods of cannabis ingestion. For instance, they could try consuming either cannabis infused edibles or the extracted anti-inflammatory compounds, such as CBD oil.

Does weed interact with cold medications?

Some people claim that weed interacts with cold medications. For instance, some over-the-counter (OTC) cold medications may cause side effects similar to those of weed. Taking both drugs together can exacerbate these side effects.

Some common side effects of weed and OTC cold medications include:

  • feeling cold
  • dizziness
  • impaired cognitive function
  • drowsiness
  • dry mouth

As smoking weed or taking OTC cold medications can cause drowsiness, people who use either should avoid driving, operating heavy machinery, and doing any other activities that require focus.

Side effects of smoking weed with a cold

A person with a cold may experience headaches, sinus pressure, and a stuffy nose. As we all know, a  cold can cause a range of uncomfortable symptoms, including:

  • a sore, scratchy throat
  • a cough
  • sneezing
  • a runny or stuffy nose
  • sinus pressure
  • headaches

Some people may find that smoking weed helps alleviate these symptoms, while others may find that it makes the symptoms worse. Both heat and smoke are potential irritants. Ingesting irritants in this way may cancel out any anti-inflammatory benefits that the cannabinoids and terpenoids provide.

Remember, smoke may be particularly irritating for people with nasal symptoms, such as sneezing and congestion. Smoke can also irritate the throat and lungs, resulting in increased phlegm production.

Heat can also aggravate throat symptoms. The smoke from a joint or handheld vaporizer can be hot, as it does not have much time to cool before entering the throat. This heat can further irritate the throat, making it dry and sore.

Other methods of cannabis smoking may help cool the smoke slightly. One option is to use a water pipe that contains ice. However, the smoke itself may still be irritating.

Summary

Anyone thinking about smoking weed with a cold may want to consider other methods of cannabis ingestion. These include eating medicated edibles or consuming the extracted anti-inflammatory compounds. Even then, there is no guarantee that the compounds in cannabis will alleviate a cold.

Some people who smoke weed with a cold may find that it alleviates their symptoms. However, others may find that it irritates their nose, lungs, and throat and makes sinus and respiratory symptoms last longer. These detrimental effects are likely to be due to the smoke and heat that burning cannabis produces.

There is currently no direct scientific research on the effects of smoking weed with a cold. As such, there is insufficient evidence to say whether smoking weed while sick has beneficial or detrimental effects.

Read more Cannabis 101 Blog posts or Book a Happy Travelers Tour to learn more about cannabis, cannabis culture and the wine-and-weed country lifestyle!