More people than ever are taking CBD oil for colds and flu. How does CBD bolster our immune system against common viruses? Read on to find out. Research shows that the chemical compound CBD interacts with receptors in the endocannabinoid system (ECS). Find out if CBD (cannabidiol) can help to fight colds or the flu. ConsumerLab.com's answer explains.
CBD Oil for Colds: Does It Help With Flu Symptoms?
Following the famous quote from Game of Thrones, it’s time to prepare for the colds and flu season.
Very few people make it through the winter without an annoying sore throat or colds.
Sure, you can go down the conventional route, get some anti-cold medications or even a flu shot that is laden with unknown chemicals, but you may just as well turn to natural remedies for help.
What many doctors won’t tell you is that it’s best to support your natural immunity while letting colds and cases of flu run their course. Natural solutions include herbs, teas, vitamins, minerals, and plant-based extracts — such as CBD oil.
In this article, we shed some light on how to use CBD to boost your immune system, preventing your body from catching infections.
CBD for Colds: Does It Help?
The common cold is triggered by inflammation that occurs in a person’s nasal and upper respiratory tract. Although many viruses can cause a cold or flu, rhinoviruses are to blame most of the time.
Experiencing a sore throat, congestion, runny nose, cough, sneezing, mild fever, headaches, and body aches, are some of the most common symptoms of colds.
There is no known cure for colds, but most cases go away within two weeks when a person uses natural remedies to control symptoms.
CBD (cannabidiol) has demonstrated antibacterial and antiviral properties in many studies — showing itself as a potential therapeutic agent for colds.
Scientists found that CBD has anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. Together with another major compound, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), it can be found in Sativex, a mouth spray used to relieve pain and spasticity.
One study concluded that CBD was able to improve the quality of sleep in patients with anxiety disorders.
Poor sleep is often associated with susceptibility to the common cold. According to one study, people with low-quality sleep are more prone to getting sick upon exposure to rhinoviruses.
Despite positive initial findings, there’s no direct scientific evidence to prove that CBD can cure colds.
How CBD Oil Works to Help with Colds
Researchers have found that CBD interacts with receptors of the endocannabinoid system (ECS), a major regulatory network that modulates several vital functions throughout the body.
CBD’s relationship with the ECS is believed to be the reason for its immunosuppressant effects. Using this mechanism, CBD can improve the communication between the immune cells and selectively shut down overactive parts of the immune system — reducing inflammation.
In a 2008 study, CBD was found to modulate sleep-wake cycles through its interaction with the ECS.
The sleep-wake cycle can be modulated through the activation of the CB1 receptor. While CBD doesn’t directly bind to CB1, it signals the ECS to produce more endocannabinoids that activate it; it also slows down their breakdown, so in the end, more endocannabinoids can bind to CB1 receptors and contribute to a more restful sleep.
CBD activates the CB2 receptor, which, according to a study on respiratory viral infection, is responsible for anti-inflammatory effects in the body.
Why Is It Worth to Use CBD Oil for Colds?
- According to the aforementioned studies, CBD might benefit people with colds and flu due to its ability to reduce symptoms of the illness, such as inflammation and pain. in anxiety patients. Poor quality sleep is linked to a weakened immune system and a higher susceptibility to infections.
- Unlike THC, the intoxicating ingredient in medical cannabis, CBD doesn’t have mind-altering effects, so it won’t affect your daily performance.
- CBD is legal in the USA. You can purchase it without prescription in CBD stores near you or online.
- The FDA supports research on the potential therapeutic properties of cannabis plants and their derivatives.
What Are the Limitations of Using CBD Oil for Colds?
- No study has yet examined a direct link between CBD use and the symptoms of colds and flu.
- Despite its excellent safety profile, CBD can have some mild side effects in high doses. In humans, the observed adverse effects include diarrhea, dry mouth, dizziness, and changes in appetite.
- The CBD market isn’t regulated, so CBD products lack standardization and come with a high risk of mislabeling.
- Currently, the only FDA-approved medication from CBD is Epidiolex — an antiepileptic drug based on a synthetic version of CBD isolate. There are no other official marketing applications for CBD.
CBD vs Other Natural Treatments for Colds
Vitamin C, probiotics, and zinc are often mentioned as potential preventive and interventional methods for the common cold.
Data on Vitamin C shows that the compound can cause a decrease in the duration of colds in subjects.
Zinc intake within 24 hours of symptom onset was found to mitigate the severity of flu symptoms and colds in participants.
Probiotics are beneficial in protecting your system against upper respiratory tract infections due to their antiviral properties.
Taken together with these aforementioned compounds, CBD can work with them in a synergy, enhancing the efficacy of your cold treatment.
You can also find many CBD products today that are infused with vitamin C, probiotics, and zinc.
How to Choose CBD for Colds
There are three main types of CBD when it comes to common colds: full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, and CBD isolate.
The most desired type is the full-spectrum option. Such products contain all of the naturally occurring compounds found in hemp — including CBD, adjunctive cannabinoids, terpenes, and trace amounts of THC.
Full-spectrum CBD creates the entourage effect, which refers to the synergistic effects achieved by the aforementioned compounds. The entourage effect makes whole-plant extracts more effective and predictable when it comes to dosing.
Broad-spectrum CBD is much like its full-spectrum counterpart, except for the lack of THC. The intoxicating cannabinoid is removed after initial extraction to create a zero-THC product that still benefits from some parts of the entourage effect.
Finally, CBD isolate refers to pure CBD, which has been isolated from other hemp compounds and turned into whitish crystals. These crystals are then powdered and infused into a range of CBD products, such as oils, edibles, capsules, vapes, and topicals. Although isolates carry the highest dose of CBD per serving, they don’t evoke the entourage effect — making them the least desired option.
Tips for Finding the Right CBD Oil:
- Look for a certificate of analysis of the desired CBD product. This is a form of a lab report that shows the results for the product’s potency and purity.
- Choose high potency CBD oils derived from organic hemp. Such plants are grown in natural conditions, without pesticides and artificial boosters, so they’re cleaner and contain higher concentrations of CBD than mass-produced hemp.
- Opt for CO2-extracted products. CO2 extraction is the industry’s golden standard; it doesn’t require adding extra heat or toxic solvents and ensures the highest purity and consistency in potency in all product batches.
- Purchase products with targeted formulas. As mentioned, CBD oil can be infused with other complementary compounds, such as vitamin C, vitamin D, probiotics, and zinc.
- Consult a doctor experienced in cannabis use before purchasing CBD. Doing so will help you determine the right dosage and avoid potential interactions with other medications.
CBD Dosage for Colds
Since CBD products aren’t regulated in the USA, there are no official guides or charts for CBD dosage.
However, taking a look at human clinical trials using CBD may provide insight for a safe and relatively accurate CBD dosage range.
For example, using CBD for anxiety may require doses between 25–175 mg per day of CBD. These amounts are enough to produce a significant clinical response. However, the study’s authors used pure CBD, not a whole-plant extract, so the dosage may change depending on what kind of product you’re using.
CBD is also safe and well-tolerated in humans. Studies have shown that doses of CBD can reach as high as 1,500 mg per day without any dangerous side effects.
How to Take CBD Oil for Colds
The best way to take CBD for cold and sore throat is through oil or tincture. CBD oils are usually administered sublingually (under the tongue) and held there for up to 60 seconds.
You can also take CBD directly — as gummies or capsules — which is a great way to use CBD for beginners. That’s because they’re straightforward and contain a premeasured amount of CBD.
Vaping is another way to get CBD into your system. It offers the highest bioavailability and the fastest onset of effects. However, this form of consumption may not be recommended if you cough because it can irritate your airways, causing more cough, sore throat, and sneezing.
Why Do We Get Colds and Flus?
This is actually a quite difficult question to answer, but most of the time, it boils down to the following triggers:
- Being constantly in confined areas with other infected people who have influenza. Viruses become airborne when someone coughs, so it can only take a few breaths to catch the illness.
- Constant mutations of rhinoviruses. Unfortunately, our immune systems need some time to adjust to these ever-changing germs, and catching a cold or flu is actually a sign of a “system upgrade.”
- Touching items that have been touched by an infected person. Viruses can survive on non-porous surfaces for hours, so it’s possible to get sick by getting a second-hand infection.
How do Viruses Affect Our Body?
Colds and cases of flu are simply the outcomes of viruses attacking our bodies. Viruses are microscopic molecules of genetic material, covered by a thin layer of protein. Unlike the normal cells in our body, these viruses aren’t able to reproduce on their own, instead, they use the metabolism of your cells to produce many clones of themselves.
When a virus enters a cell, it will either use its constituents to copy itself, eventually breaking the cell seeking a new one, or, injecting itself into the DNA of your cell. By doing so, the virus can pass down through natural cell division (cytokinesis) and genetic duplication (mitosis).
Key Takeaways on Using CBD Oil for Colds
CBD has remarkable anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties that may prove beneficial for individuals with a common cold or flu.
The cannabinoid interacts with various receptors of the ECS, which improve its ability to regulate immune response — enhancing your immunity as a result.
Not only that, but CBD can also curb inflammation and pain, which are the two common symptoms of a cold. On top of that, it can also help improve sleep in people with anxiety. Poor sleep is one of the major reasons why people have compromised immune systems.
You can add some zinc, probiotics, and vitamin C to your daily routine as preventive measures against colds. Holistic supplementation will help enhance your immune system and keep you resistant to illnesses.
Do you take CBD for colds? What other ingredients do you throw into your remedy box when you’re sick? Let us know by leaving a comment below!
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- Khan, M. I., Sobocińska, A. A., Czarnecka, A. M., Król, M., Botta, B., & Szczylik, C. (2016). The Therapeutic Aspects of the Endocannabinoid System (ECS) for Cancer and their Development: From Nature to Laboratory. Current pharmaceutical design, 22(12), 1756–1766. https://doi.org/10.2174/1381612822666151211094901
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Nina created CFAH.org following the birth of her second child. She was a science and math teacher for 6 years prior to becoming a parent — teaching in schools in White Plains, New York and later in Paterson, New Jersey.
CBD Oil for Colds – August 2022
Research shows that the chemical compound CBD interacts with receptors in the endocannabinoid system (ECS) (7) . The ECS helps regulate functions of the nervous, cardiovascular, and immune systems (8) .
Scientists suggest CBD can attach to cannabinoid receptors, including CB1 and CB2 receptors, to suppress the inflammatory response (9) .
The authors of a 2008 study suggested that the body’s ECS affects sleep modulation (10) . Poor sleep quality can lower one’s immunity, affecting one’s vulnerability to common cold viruses (11) .
The ECS may also be connected to other bodily functions, such as heart rate, blood pressure, and energy metabolism (12) .
Why Are People Turning to CBD for Colds?
Inflammation that affects a person’s nose and throat in the upper respiratory tract causes the common cold (13) . Rhinoviruses most frequently cause the common cold (14) .
No cure exists for the common cold. Numerous people recover from it within ten days (15) . Natural remedies and over-the-counter (OTC) products are often used to manage symptoms of the common cold , such as sinus infections.
Common natural remedies include homemade chicken soup, which may help ease symptoms of respiratory tract infections, according to a 2000 study implemented by the University of Nebraska Medical Center (16) .
Research and Studies on CBD for Colds
Studies show that CBD has anti-inflammatory properties and analgesic propertie s (17) . It may benefit the common cold, which results from nose and throat inflammation and induces pain, such as headaches or sore throat.
A 2010 study administered by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) produced mixed results based on the particular virus es involved, Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV)-1 and HSV-2 (18) .
The researchers noted that cannabinoids may help with persistent viral infections. Cannabinoids are a specific group of chemical compounds that contain active components of the cannabis plant.
However, the researchers also noted that the chemical compounds may weaken a person’s natural immune function.
Individuals with cold or flu-like symptoms that believe their illness is more severe than the common cold or flu should seek medical attention immediately.
For example, while COVID-19 shares some symptoms with influenza, coronavirus disease is a severe respiratory illness that may require hospitalization (19) .
Pros and Cons: Can CBD Help with Colds?
- Studies show that CBD may improve sleep quality among people with anxiety problems (20) . People with poor sleep quality are more susceptible to the common cold (21) .
- CBD is not psychoactive, meaning CBD users do not experience mind-altering effects with CBD (22) .
- The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) promotes research on the possible medicinal uses of various cannabis strains (23) .
- No scientific evidence exists that CBD can directly reduce cold symptoms, such as a cough or runny nose.
- Vomiting and diarrhea are commonly observed side effects of CBD intake in humans (25) . People who experience these side effects should immediately see their doctor.
- The seizure medication Epidiolex is the only FDA-approved CBD product (26) .
Comparing CBD Oil and Alternative Treatments for Colds
Possible interventions to prevent the common cold include vitamin C, zinc, and probiotics (27) . These remedies may be alternatives to CBD products .
Data regarding vitamin C intake shows that the organic compound may lower the duration and severity of colds in study subjects (28) .
Zinc intake within 24 hours of the start of cold symptoms may reduce the severity and duration of colds in healthy human subjects (29) .
Studies show that probiotics may be beneficial in preventing upper respiratory tract infection (30) . Probiotics are live microorganisms with purported health benefits.
Cannabidiol similarly contains properties that may alleviate the common cold’s symptoms. Edible or topical CBD products infused with vitamin c, zinc, and probiotics may benefit individuals with colds.
How to Select the Right CBD for Colds
CBD comes in different types: CBD isolates, full-spectrum, and broad-spectrum.
Full-spectrum CBD contains all naturally occurring compounds found in cannabis plants. It has high levels of cannabidiol and trace amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), flavonoids (plant metabolites), terpenes (aromatic compounds), and other minerals.
Meanwhile, b road-spectrum CBD contains similar contents as full-spectrum without the psychoactive compound THC.
Finally, CBD isolates contain pure cannabidiol and are usually sold as powder or crystals.
Consumers should choose only CBD products with the best quality to maximize the compound’s health and wellness benefits.
When purchasing high-quality CBD, consider the following:
- Industrial hemp is high in fiber yet low in THC content (31) .
- CBD legality varies from state to state.
Medical marijuana is legal in most states, while others have passed laws legalizing CBD based on stipulations, including the form, THC level, and usage (32) .
- Each CBD product should include a certificate of analysis (COA). The COA shows that a third-party laboratory tested the product.
CBD Dosage for the Flu and Colds
The FDA has not officially approved a CBD dosage guide. Human clinical trials on CBD, however, may provide insight for safe and reliable CBD doses.
One study used a daily dose of CBD to treat anxiety, which produced sufficient clinical response (33) . CBD produced few reported side effects and was well tolerated.
A 2021 review reported that high doses of CBD up to 1,500 mg per day are well tolerated in human subjects (34) .
How to Take CBD Hemp Oil for Colds
Taking CBD hemp through tinctures allows people to measure the amount of cannabidiol they use.
CBD oil drops are put under the tongue using a dropper. The oil is held there for 30 to 60 seconds before swallowing.
Consuming CBD gummies, tablets, and capsules is another straightforward way to consume CBD. They also come in predetermined CBD doses for consumers’ convenience.
Vaping gets CBD into the system quickly. However, vaping is not a recommended form of CBD administration for colds.
A 2008 study showed that cigarette smoke could worsen viral infections, including influenza (35) .
What Are Colds and the Flu?
Colds and the flu are both classified as contagious respiratory illnesses caused by viruses. The influenza virus causes the flu, while several viruses can cause the common cold (36) .
Common flu symptoms indicating the effects of an immune response include (37) :
- Sore throat
- Stuffy nose or runny nose
- Body aches
The flu sometimes leads to influenza deaths. Experts estimate that the flu causes approximately 23,600 deaths in the United States every year (38) .
The flu and cold can also have similar symptoms, which can make it difficult to distinguish them. The flu is generally more severe than colds (39) .
How Do People Get Colds and the Flu?
The colds and the flu viruses can spread from person to person, often through the air. Infected individuals are contagious for several days after they have fallen ill.
One can catch viruses like influenza when someone near them is coughing or sneezing (40) .
Viruses continuously mutate to breach the body’s immune system’s defenses. Antibiotics designed for bacteria produce n o effect on viruses (41) .
Viruses ca n stay alive on hard, non-porous surfaces for 24 to 48 hours (42) . People can become infected by touching something the virus is on, like a phone, pen, or doorknob, and then touch their nose or mouth.
How Do Colds Impact Infected Individuals?
Viruses are microscopic infectious agents coated with thin layers of protein (43) .
The cold or flu viruses cannot reproduce by themselves. They use human cells to replicate themselves.
Once the virus infiltrates a human cell, it utilizes the cell to clone itself. After the cell breaks, the virus seeks a new cell or combines with the cell’s DNA.
The virus moves through the process of genetic duplication (mitosis) and cellular division (cytokinesis).
Why Let a Cold Run Its Course?
Viruses that produce colds and the flu affect weak cells with many toxins (44) . The body would prefer to rid itself of these cells in some ways.
A cold or the flu, however, is a natural event. It identifies, destroys, and eliminates damaged cells. Thus, one remedy is to let the cold run its course.
Common Flu Treatments
Flu vaccines develop antibodies two weeks after an individual is vaccinated (45) . The antibodies protect an individual from influenza infections.
Meanwhile, antiviral medications target a range of viruses, including influenza viruses (46) .
It is critical to wash one’s hands frequently during the flu season, especially before eating or touching the eyes, mouth, or nose. Avoiding sick people can also help stop the flu from spreading.
CBD may have antibacterial properties and anti-inflammatory effects and properties that may benefit individuals with colds (47) .
The chemical compound may help reduce chronic pain and inflammation (48) .
CBD studies conducted by organizations such as the University of Colorado yielded promising results (49) .
Still, researchers have conducted no direct studies on CBD and colds. People interested in trying CBD products for colds should first seek medical advice from a doctor.
Does CBD help fight colds or the flu?
Although CBD (cannabidiol) is sometimes promoted to help reduce the symptoms of colds and the flu, there are no published studies investigating these effects in people. Some preliminary research in animals suggests that CBD (and THC) may actually hinder the immune system’s response to certain infections. For details, see the What It Does section of the CBD and Hemp Extracts Supplements Review.
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