Can I use marijuana to treat my cold or flu?

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We are rapidly approaching that dreadful time once again: cold and flu season. All one has to do is spend a few hours in an airport — a petri dish inside the global travel system — and it becomes painfully evident by all the coughing and wheezing whipping about the terminal that it won’t be long before some kind of sickness puts us flat on our back. And that almost guarantees we will suffer fever, chills, and uninspired coughing fits, causing us to miss work and those all-important social activities that keep us sane. When those vile germs strike, and sure as Shinola, they will, we are destined to feel like hell has opened up shop in our bodies. In turn, we’ll beg for mercy, we’ll pray for death, but all we will get from this pleading is five to seven days of the ick.

What makes this disgusting, snot riddled breakdown of our health so ghastly is that there is no known cure (or even an effective treatment) capable of getting us back on our feet in a reasonable amount of time. We must simply endure the sick, knock back Nyquil like Charles Bukowski would a boilermaker and let it run its course. Some people, however, believe that marijuana can help alleviate cold and flu symptoms more effectively than over the counter medications. But is there really any evidence showing that getting stoned is the best way to feeling whole again?

As with most things medical marijuana, there really isn’t much scientific research pointing to it as a legitimate remedy for a cold or flu. But that’s not to say that cannabinoids do not have a place in easing these nasty afflictions. We know that cannabis compounds have anti-inflammatory properties, and there is also evidence showing they can help ease low-level pain. Both of which are popular complaints for anyone with the feel-bads. While the cannabis plant is not a cure for the common cold, there are perhaps some ways it can be administered during those times when the body is ravaged by microscopic assassins that make it an excellent alternative to other medicines.

But using marijuana as a way to rise above the funk really comes down to how it is consumed. Smoking weed (or even hitting a vaporizer) probably isn’t the right way to go for the person who is seeking a trapdoor out of the misery that comes with a cold or flu. Smoke can irritate the throat, sinuses and lungs and make coughing, congestion and headaches much worse. As it was pointed out earlier last year by former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb, “using a lung as a drug delivery vehicle isn’t optimal.” And anyone who has ever tried smoking weed when their respiratory system is being beaten into submission by a virus understands that there are better ways to medicate.

“These detrimental effects are likely to be due to the smoke and heat that burning cannabis produces,” says Medical News Today.

Fortunately, there are now all sorts of smoke-free cannabis products on the legal market that are optimal for those with a cold or flu. Edibles, beverages and tinctures can be purchased at almost any medical marijuana dispensary or neighborhood weed store, none of which will cause a sick person excruciating pain the way smoking can. We have even seen cannabis-infused soups and hot teas in some dispensaries that are explicitly designed for people who are feeling under the weather. These are good for treating a cold or flu with cannabis, as the consumption of hot liquids fits right in line with doctor’s orders. Some reports have even suggested that cannabis products containing higher cannabidiol (CBD) content might be an even better route than products designed to give the user a buzz. This cannabinoid has been known to ease muscle and joint pain, which is desperately needed in times when the cold or flu has settled in to make life a miserable experience for the next week or so. However, a person who is vomiting and having trouble finding their appetite shouldn’t avoid THC altogether. This cannabinoid, which produces the stoned effects, has been helping people eat and control nausea for years.

But perhaps the best way to get through cold and flu season is to do everything in your power to keep from getting sick in the first place. This means it might be a good idea to stop smoking weed with other people. As we pointed out, smoking devices contain around 50% more bacteria than a toilet seat. So it makes sense that avoiding situations where a group of people are sitting around a room slobbering all over the same bong, bowl or dab rig is a solid first step in preventing the spread of disease. Yeah, yeah, we’re just being paranoid. But the next time you’re curled up in the fetal position under a layer of blankets, sweating profusely with a temperature of 102 and crying for your mommy to make it all go away, don’t say we didn’t warn you.

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