The winter months are the prime time for colds and flus. Between spending more time indoors with poor air circulation, and the fact that viruses tend to thrive in cold, low-humidity conditions, winter makes it much easier for people to get sick more frequently.
This is why it’s vital to keep the immune system healthy and working at its best. When the immune system is able to fight off colds and flus, it can lead to less frequent and less severe illness, and a healthier winter season overall. But what does medical marijuana have to do with the health of the immune system? Here’s all you need to know about medical marijuana and immunity in the winter.
Does the winter weaken your immune system?
It’s been a topic of debate among the scientific community for decades, but recent research has found that there’s more to flu season than just packed indoor spaces and a virus’s ability to thrive in colder weather. As it turns out, the human body becomes more susceptible to colds and flus in the winter months for a variety of reasons, one of which is entirely biological.
Exposure to cold weather has now been proven to be a driver of the uptick in colds and flus because it weakens the immune system. This cold-weather-induced suppression of the immune system makes it harder for the body to fight off pathogens if they do happen to get into the body.
Cannabinoids and the immune system
The endocannabinoid system is a cell-signaling system. It plays a vital role in many bodily systems, including appetite and digestion, metabolism, mood, cognitive function, and inflammation and immune system responses. Within the endocannabinoid system are receptors, endocannabinoids, and enzymes. The endocannabinoids are created by the body but are similar to the cannabinoids found in medical marijuana.
When it comes to the immune system, cannabinoids have the ability to modulate certain immune reactions in the brain that can help to influence cytokine expression and the balance of T-cell subsets. Since endocannabinoids can be synthesized by immune cells, they are also influenced by cannabinoids that come from outside sources such as medical marijuana.
How does MMJ affect the immune system?
Medical marijuana, especially with high THC levels, may influence the immune system in a negative way. Studies have found that THC could actually lead to damaged immunity by hindering the much-needed inflammatory response that initiates the battle against pathogens, leaving the body more susceptible to infections.
On the opposite side, those with autoimmune diseases or other chronic conditions that are caused by the overactivity of the immune system may be helped by the use of medical marijuana. This is because cannabis can actually reduce the inflammatory response within the body, and for those with an overactive immune system, it leads to a balance in the immune response. Some research has also found that cannabis may modulate certain neurological responses that could help with immunity.
Cannabis for cold and flu
While cannabis isn’t a cure for a cold or flu, it can sometimes help people deal with the symptoms involved, such as inflammation, pain, and trouble sleeping. During a bout with the cold or a flu, the body goes through some immune system processes. The inflammatory response designed to help the body fight off the infection could initiate a fever, a sore throat, and swelling in the nasal passages. Studies have shown that medical marijuana can help to reduce this inflammatory response, and thus, those with a cold or flu may benefit from its use if only for symptom relief.
Studies have also found that cannabis can help to regulate or induce sleep. Those with colds or flus often suffer from a dysregulated sleep cycle. Medicating with marijuana may help to keep the sleep cycle as regular as possible, which will in turn aid in fighting off the illness. Finally, there are also aches and pains to contend with when fighting off a cold or flu. Medical marijuana is a proven pain reliever, and can help patients with cold or flu-induced pains to find relief while they recover.
Can CBD oil help a cold?
Similar to all types of cannabis, CBD oil has been proven to provide relief from many symptoms such as chronic pain and inflammation. It does this by hindering the inflammatory response in the body. When a person is suffering from a cold, using CBD oil may help to relieve symptoms driven by that overactive inflammatory response.
It won’t be a cure, but CBD oil will work just as well as other types of cannabis in helping someone get through the cold or flu. It’s important to mention that those who do use CBD may also experience a hindered immune system response to pathogens because it, like other forms of cannabis, can suppress immune function.
Using medical marijuana in the winter is important for your specific health condition, because you’ll want to be as healthy as possible during cold and flu season. By practicing good hygiene, eating a diet that can help boost immune function, and continuing on with your treatment, you can avoid the flu and cold as well as anyone even while using medical marijuana.
Featured image by Dimitris Chapsoulas on Unsplash