It’s cold and flu season, which means that a lot of regular cannabis users are lighting up while sick. The viral respiratory infection could spread when sharing a joint, bong, or bowl. There’s no definitive research on the effects of smoking cannabis with a cold or flu. In many cases, smoking cannabis can worsen symptoms. Vaping, edibles, tinctures, and CBD may provide some relief from symptoms associated with the cold and flu.

Can Smoking Cannabis Worsen Cold and Flu Symptoms?

Cold and flu symptoms are a result of a contagious viral infection in the respiratory tract. With a cold, the body’s immune response is to produce mucus to remove the dead infected cells out of the body, while the flu can lead to a high fever for days. Smoking weed while sick could cause throat and lung irritation, headaches, fatigue, and chills. Smoking cannabis could also worsen gastrointestinal issues associated with flu symptoms.

A 2017 systemic review found that long-term cannabis smoking led to chronic coughs and excess phlegm production. Smoke is harsh and irritating to the respiratory airways, which can cause more mucus production, dizziness, and delayed recovery. The THC compound can also suppress the immune system by triggering certain cells. Cannabis users should consider vaporizing instead of smoking pot if they must.

Smoking vs. Vaping With A Cold Or Flu

Smoking cannabis flower involves the combustion and inhalation of plant material. Vaping, however, doesn’t burn cannabis. Instead, vaping heats active cannabinoids and terpenes, which are then released as vapor through portable or desktop vapes. Vaping won’t irritate respiratory passageways as much as smoking, but there may still be some minor discomfort. Vaporizing cannabis could provide relief for inflammation, aches, pains, and act as a sleep aid.

Edibles, Tinctures, Topicals

To remove inhaling cannabis from the mix, cannabis users can turn to edibles, tinctures, topicals, oils, transdermal patches, and sprays for mental and physical relief. These cannabis-infused products won’t affect respiratory airways or exacerbate a cough or sore throat. These products may still cause negative side effects depending on the dosage and levels of cannabinoids present. Try not to experiment with new products or strains when sick.


Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a known anti-inflammatory, muscle-relaxing, pain-relieving, and anxiety-reducing chemical compound found in cannabis. Plus, users don’t get “high” when consuming it. There are no studies on the effects of CBD, or cannabis for that matter, on people with a cold or flu, but CBD may be able to reduce congested nose, aches, and sore throat. A CBD bath bomb may help open up airways with steam and reduce stress. CBD does have mild and rare side effects like nausea, dizziness, and vomiting.

Smoking weed with a cold or flu won’t cure a cold or flu, but can make certain symptoms worse, especially for inexperienced users. Weed and certain medications can make sedative effects worse. For an effective treatment plan, consult a doctor instead of self-medication. The best course of action is to take a break from smoking, get some rest, and drink plenty of fluids. Topicals, tinctures, and edibles are great cannabis-infused products to use to avoid smoking altogether.

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