As the cold weather of winter hits regions across the globe, the dreaded cold and flu season also sets in.
The days of red noses, sniffles and sneezes are upon us and while sufferers tend to flock to the supermarket for temporary cures, cannabis has emerged as a dark horse in the race to battle the dreaded cold illness
Extensive research and tests have been
conducted on whether cannabis can cure the cold or flu virus, and although many
of those have come back as inconclusive, there is mounting evidence that
suggests that cannabis can help the symptoms of a common cold.
The common cold is the result of a
viral infection of the upper respiratory tract (nose and throat) from one of
many different types of viruses entering the body, with the majority of the
time being from the rhinovirus, however there are around 200 different strains
of the virus.
After being easily spread by
hand-to-hand contact or sharing contaminated objects and touching the eyes,
nose or mouth, the virus enters the body and attacks the mucous membranes in
the mouth, nose and throat. It then spreads down to the lungs, where the body
responds by trying to fight the virus by creating inflammation and
over-producing mucus to attempt to expel the bad bacteria from the body. This
causes the associated symptoms of a cold such as sore throats, runny or blocked
nose with coughing and sneezing.
A 2017 scientific journal found that weed smoke has anti-inflammatory properties which can relieve symptoms of a sore throat, swollen nasal passageways and fever. If the individual is otherwise healthy but suffering from cold and flu symptoms, cannabis use was found to decrease the production of certain inflammatory cytokines in human subjects, and similar findings have been presented in the same study in animal and cell-based subjects.
The same review also found
that weed was effective in treating chronic pain, which although is very
different to acute aches caused by the common cold, the relief received from
the medicinal properties helps relieve pain relating to both short-term
symptoms associated with colds as well as long-term chronic pain.
Cannabis has been used for centuries
to treat minor illnesses, with it being touted more recently as useful for
serious illnesses. Due to its anti-inflammatory properties it could well act
faster and more efficiently than regular over-the-counter medicines, it also
aids sleep and appetite which are often affected when someone catches a cold.
Another 2017 medical report
on the link between cannabis and sleep found that tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)
used short term can help sleep, however if someone is a long term user of
cannabis, they may have a build-up of tolerance to the sleep-inducing
components of THC therefore hindering the ability to enjoy a better night’s
Another component of cannabis – CBD –
demonstrated a different effect in the tests and indicated at medium to high
doses that it induced sedative effects and thus is beneficial for a variety of
sleep disorders including insomnia, and can lead to not only improved sleep,
but allowing the user to sleep for a longer time period, which can be extremely
beneficial when someone is feeling unwell as the body restores its vitality
much quicker when asleep.
Not for everyone
It’s worth noting that while cannabis
can be extremely useful for some, it isn’t for everyone and ingesting cannabis
via smoking could in fact worsen the symptoms of a cold and irritate the lungs
further, and long term weed smoking can create excess phlegm production.
If someone feels they are experiencing
the on-set of a cold and opts to smoke cannabis, it has a small chance of
turning a minor sore throat into a bigger problem as the mucus membranes that
are already inflamed will be working harder to create even more.
Although the risks of respiratory
complications from smoking cannabis are relatively small and much lower than
risks of smoking tobacco, the report
found that heavy cannabis users may be at a high risk of developing chronic
bronchitis or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
A much better method of ingestion
would be edibles, which is a growing market especially in Canada due to the
recent wave of new legislation.
It may take some time for edibles to
take effect, but once it does it will almost certainly reduce the aches, pains
and chills while increasing the chance and quality of a much-needed rest.
CBD oil is most likely a better option
as it has no ‘high’ inducing properties and has been found to be high in
anti-inflammatory and muscle relaxing properties which could aid in relieving
blocked noses, sore throats and general aches while being considered as
generally more safe than cannabis in bud form.
Despite the fact that there is no
concrete evidence to prove that cannabis can cure the common cold, it is
important to note that there is no certified cure for the illness at all – this
includes over-the-counter treatments or herbal home remedies. However, cannabis
can still be used to treat various symptoms of the dreaded cold and aid in
increasing relaxation and getting a better night’s sleep.
Other medicinal benefits
Cannabis is undoubtedly a plant with
numerous medicinal properties. Cannabidiol (CBD), the non-psychoactive
ingredient, is commonly used to treat anxiety and depression, while cannabis
itself has been used to treat all manner of issues from chronic pain in the
body to eye conditions such as glaucoma.
But recent research has suggested it
can do much more. There have been rallying
calls from citizens in the UK stating that
the NHS should make it legal to obtain for medicinal purposes as it helps
patients who need prescription drugs that aren’t based on addictive opiates.
Despite Sajid Javid proposing cannabis
be moved from Schedule 1, where the drugs have no supposed medicinal value, to
Schedule 2, where doctors are allowed to prescribe them, few people can legally
obtain medical cannabis for their ailments.
The stipulation for acquiring the
cannabis being that the patient cannot be helped by any other licensed
medicine, which leaves it at the end of an extremely long list of other
prescriptions before a doctor will consider it.