Cannabis, or weed, is a psychoactive drug that some people use for medical or recreational purposes. Although its use is highly controversial, this is changing as more states and other countries move to legalize and regulate the drug.
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.
In this article, we outline the existing research relating to smoking weed with a cold and discuss the potential side effects.
Current research into smoking weed with a cold
To date, there has been a lack of scientific research focusing specifically on the effects of smoking weed with a cold.
As the authors of a 2016 review note, 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 inCannabis 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:
- inflamed sinuses
- pressure headaches
- puffy eyes
Smoking weed may also help lessen general aches and pains, which are common symptoms of a cold. As 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 low strength 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, and this is true for certain types.
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:
- dry mouth
- impaired cognitive function
- feeling cold
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.
A cold can cause a range of uncomfortable symptoms, including:
- sinus pressure
- a runny or stuffy nose
- a cough
- a sore, scratchy throat
Some people may find that smoking weed helps alleviate these symptoms, while others may find that it makes the symptoms worse.
One thing that a person should consider when smoking weed is that they are inhaling hot smoke into their lungs. 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.
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. Excess phlegm can worsen a cough and aggravate an itchy throat.
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.
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 taking this action has beneficial or detrimental effects.
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.
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.