During cold and flu season, it can feel like there's no escape from the sniffles, sore throats and piles of tissue. Some folks might be thinking about turning to weed to ease the aches and pains of a cold or flu. But is smoking weed a good idea when you're feeling under the weather?
How does smoking cannabis affect healthy lungs?
If you're experiencing respiratory symptoms, remember that smoking anything, including cannabis, causes irritation to the lungs. When you light cannabis on fire, the cannabinoids, terpenes, and other plant molecules combust and give off smoke that transports the molecules into your lungs and your bloodstream. With this smoke comes compounds produced by combustion that can be harmful to the lungs. Smoking damages the cells in your lungs that protect them against germs and dust, leading to more mucus production and the potential for bacterial infection. The increase of mucus also makes it easier for bacteria to grow and remain in the lungs. Lung issues such as bronchitis and pneumonia can turn into chronic issues with continued smoking.
How does smoking cannabis affect me when I'm sick?
If you feel like you have a cold or the flu, smoking weed really depends on personal preference. The consensus among doctors is that cannabis does not affect the common cold or flu. It can cause discomfort if you're already irritated, but it can also soothe muscle aches and inflammation caused by flu or fever. Cannabis smoke has been shown to have analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects, both of which can help with fever aches and soothe a swollen throat. Smoking weed can also increase your appetite and help you sleep when rest is elusive.
While it's up to personal experience whether smoking hurts or helps when you're sick, there's an increased risk of spreading your illness when smoking with others, particularly when you're sharing a joint, bowl, or bong among a group. When all is said and done, you don't need to smoke to cannabis to enjoy its benefits. If you have respiratory issues, consider tinctures or edibles in lieu of smoking.
Can I smoke cannabis with OTC medicine?
Most doctors recommend caution when using cannabis with over-the-counter remedies, as cannabis can sometimes worsen the existing effects of the medicine. These side-effects include dry mouth, sedation, blurry vision, and dizziness. Always consult your doctor before mixing cannabis with other medications.
Why do I get sick when I smoke cannabis?
Marijuana contains several active compounds, including THC, that bind to receptors in the endocannabinoid system. These receptors are present throughout the body, including the digestive tract and the esophageal sphincter, the band of muscle that allows food into the stomach from the esophagus. Long-term exposure to cannabis can change the way these receptors respond and lead to symptoms of a condition called Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome.
Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome is a condition that leads to severe, repeated bouts of vomiting and only occurs in long-term, daily users of cannabis. While the condition is rare, it can lead to abdominal pain, ongoing nausea, decreased food intake and symptoms of dehydration.
Many people take long showers or seek medical care when these symptoms arise, and they only stop when an individual completely stops using cannabis. The recovery phase can last days or months, and symptoms can often return if a person smokes marijuana again.
So, can I smoke weed when I'm sick?
The bottom line is that cannabis can better or worsen symptoms of illness depending on the consumption method you use and your body's individual response. It's best to consult your doctor if you're considering consuming cannabis while sick. Also, consider your friends and family should you be thinking about partaking in a group session while you're under the weather. Germs are easily spread when you share glass, joints and blunts.