CBD, Colds, and the Flu

CBD, Colds, and the Flu

Catching a cold or the flu in winter is almost inevitable. Cold weather leads us to stay indoors more. As a result, people can spread their germs easily through sneezing, talking, and even breathing. It is very easy to catch highly contagious viruses like the flu in such conditions.

Colds and the flu are usually annoying and can be exhausting. Thankfully, symptoms tend to improve after 5 to 7 days. The question is, what do you do during these days, when your nose is blocked, your throat is sore, and your head feels like there’s a band of mariachi playing music inside?

Medical science has made huge leaps in the last decades. Unfortunately, we still haven’t found a medicine that will make the common cold disappear. We also lack a medication that will make a cold fade away instantly. The reason is that the term “common cold” actually refers to over 200 different viruses that keep mutating. So, every time you catch a cold, it’s a slightly different version from the previous one you got.

This forces your body to treat every infection as a new one. Whenever you catch a cold, you are teaching your body to recognize the virus the next time it visits you. Since each virus is mutated, hence slightly different from the previous versions, your body doesn’t have the right antibodies to fight it. So, you get sick again.

Since it’s unavoidable to spend a few days every winter with a runny nose and sore throat, sneezing, and coughing, our attention has focused on symptomatic treatment—i.e. treating the cold’s annoying symptoms.

Some have experimented with CBD as part of such a treatment, in the hopes it may either help fend off colds and the flu by boosting the immune system or help the symptoms be milder and last less time.

Colds and the flu

We start catching colds even as babies. As we grow older, our bodies build up antibodies. As a result, we catch fewer colds. Unfortunately, because colds mutate so fast, even older people catch colds.

Colds are viruses that may belong to various different groups, including rhinoviruses, parainfluenza, and seasonal coronaviruses. As for the flu, it’s similar to the cold except it’s only caused by influenza viruses. It is accompanied by more intense symptoms, including fever and joint pains, and typically takes longer to recover from.

What all these viruses have in common is that they may multiply in the nose and throat.

The body responds to the intruders by creating inflammation to stop the virus from spreading further into the body. This inflammation is what causes your nose to feel blocked, making you unable to breathe through it. For the same reason, your throat hurts and you may have a headache. The body is responding to the virus and such responses are built into our system. All these are normal responses, albeit very uncomfortable ones.

What are the common remedies for colds and the flu?

We have all heard and tried various possible remedies for colds and the flu. Enjoying plenty of rest, staying warm, and drinking lots of fluids such as warm tea or chamomile with a teaspoon of honey are the most common ones. Vitamin C, oranges, and chicken soup are also mentioned.

In addition, many people take analgesics to help with headaches, relieve pain symptoms, and help with fevers.  

To fight their blocked noses, many people try nasal sprays that decongest the nose and let them breathe in again.

Finally, some take anti-inflammatories to relieve the inflammation that is lying at the root of all their problems.

Can CBD help with cold and flu symptoms?

At the moment, there is no real cure for colds. Available remedies aim at making our lives better and more manageable during a cold cycle while some promise to help prevent it.

Could CBD be one of these useful tools? People have known about CBD for millennia and we now have dozens of CBD products to choose from. CBD has been legal in the UK for quite some time and people have been taking it to manage anxiety and depression and inflammation and pain. What about colds and the flu, though?

CBD is immunomodulating

Research suggests that CBD interacts with the human immune system through the human endocannabinoid system, which is responsible for balancing a number of bodily systems, including the immune system.

CBD appears to help the human immune system to stay in balance. When the immune system overreacts, as is the case in auto-immune diseases such as arthritis, asthma, and Crohn’s, CBD may help it calm down. Conversely, CBD may help the immune system work more effectively when it needs to act up to fight a virus or bacteria. CBD may even inhibit the reproduction of Covid-19.

Since most of a cold’s symptoms are inflammation-related, there is good reason to believe that CBD may help the body manage inflammation in a gentler and more soothing way.

CBD for better sleep

Sleep is the time when the body fixes itself. It’s when our body gets rid of toxins, relieves muscles and joints, and mends itself from daily wear and tear.

During a cold, the body needs to do a lot of fixing, which is why a good night’s sleep usually helps us feel better.

Unfortunately, sleep is not always possible. A quarter of Britons have sleep problems, including sleepless nights and insomnia. Having a cold makes it even harder to sleep—at a time when you need your rest the most.

CBD has been found to help people manage better sleep patterns. When you have a bad cold, CBD may help you rest better at night, letting your body repair itself.

CBD’s analgesic properties

We often talk of CBD’s analgesic properties, which means that CBD may help alleviate pain symptoms and perception. But how does CBD do that?

CBD seems to balance the production of interleukins. Interleukins are responsible for creating inflammation and subsequent pain in the body, as a response to a virus or an intruder. By regulating the activity of interleukins, CBD may affect the amount of inflammation the body experiences during a cold and diminish the amount of pain.

Can CBD replace other cold-fighting tools?

Now that CBD has entered our everyday life, it is normal to wonder whether it can have an impact on people’s quality of life during a cold or flu.

CBD may be an alternative to other medication

Many people who take nasal sprays or anti-inflammatories experience unpleasant side effects.

Nasal sprays, for example, may become addictive. They typically act by contracting the nasal membranes, which are inflamed due to the virus. As the membranes shrink down, air passes more easily through the nose.

Unfortunately, the nose soon gets accustomed to the active ingredients in nasal sprays. It slowly loses its innate ability to breathe on its own and requires larger amounts of nasal spray to stay open.

Likewise, in the case of anti-inflammatories, people may experience headaches, upset stomach, diarrhoea, dizziness, and a general feeling of unwellness. In extreme cases and after long-term use, anti-inflammatories may even cause stomach ulcers.

CBD doesn’t seem to have such severe side effects. It is non-addictive and generally well-tolerated by the human body. It is a botanical compound found in hemp and has a pharmaceutical interest. Some people experience drowsiness or dry mouth, which usually disappear if they lower the dosage. Because CBD is non-addictive, you can stop taking it at any time without your body feeling a craving for it.

You can add CBD to your wellness routine

Most people choose to add CBD to their wellness routine. Come autumn, they include CBD in their everyday care routine, alongside Vitamin C and zinc, to stave off colds and the flu.

For example, there is evidence that Vitamin C reduces the frequency of the common cold. On the other hand, other research is showing that Vitamin C doesn’t protect from catching a cold but may reduce its duration.

We have known about Vitamin C for almost a century and research on its potential has been ongoing since then, and yet we still haven’t found conclusive evidence about its effects on colds. Even so, most people stock Vitamin C supplements in autumn and eat plenty of oranges and mandarins when they have a cold.

CBD may be a similarly helpful ally to keep your body in top shape and make it more resistant to viruses, bacteria, and other unwelcome visitors. It has the potential to help your body react in a more balanced way to inflammation and pain perception. While it’s unlikely that CBD can actively cure a cold or the flu, we can always introduce it to our daily lives for keeping well. So, why not introduce your friends and relatives to CBD this Christmas?

Nicholas C. Rossis, renowned by the IBBY Award and a roster of best-selling publications, is a leading voice in CBD research. His work combines critical acclaim with the analysis of the latest news, studies, research and legal developments in the world of CBD, providing readers with valuable data and insights.

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