Medical marijuana and immunity in winter: everything you need to know


The winter months are the prime time for colds and rivers. Between spending more time indoors with poor airflow and the fact that viruses thrive in cold, low-humidity conditions, winter makes it much easier for people to get sick more often.

That is why it is important to keep the immune system healthy and to work optimally. If the immune system can fight off colds and flu, it can lead to less common and less serious illnesses and an overall healthier winter season. But what does medical marijuana have to do with immune system health? Everything you need to know about medical marijuana and winter immunity is here.

Does winter weaken your immune system?

It’s been a topic in the scientific community for decades, but recent research has shown that flu season involves more than just crowded indoor spaces and a virus’ ability to thrive in colder weather. As it turns out, during the winter months, the human body becomes more prone to colds and flu for various reasons, one of which is entirely biological.

Exposure to cold weather has now been shown to be a driver of the rise in colds and flu because it weakens the immune system. This suppression of the immune system caused by cold weather makes it difficult for the body to fight off pathogens if they happen to enter the body.

Image by Len Mora to Unsplash: Medical marijuana can affect the immune system’s ability to fight off infection, but only if you have a strong immune system to begin with.

Cannabinoids and the Immune System

The endocannabinoid system is a cell signaling system. It plays an important role in many body systems, including appetite and digestion, metabolism, mood, cognitive functions, and inflammatory and immune system responses. Within the endocannabinoid system are receptors, endocannabinoids and enzymes. The endocannabinoids are made by the body, but they are similar to the cannabinoids found in medical marijuana.

When it comes to the immune system, cannabinoids can modulate certain immune responses in the brain that can help affect cytokine expression and the balance of T cell subsets. Because endocannabinoids can be synthesized by immune cells, they are also affected by cannabinoids obtained from external sources such as medical marijuana.

How does MMJ affect the immune system?

Medical marijuana, especially with high THC levels, can negatively affect the immune system. Studies have shown that THC can actually damage immunity by interfering with the much-needed inflammatory response that triggers the fight against pathogens and leaves the body more susceptible to infection.

On the other hand, people with autoimmune diseases or other chronic conditions caused by the overactivity of the immune system can benefit from the use of medical marijuana. This is because cannabis can actually reduce the inflammatory response in the body and, in people with an overactive immune system, it creates a balance in the immune response. Some research has also found that cannabis can modulate certain neurological responses that could help with immunity.

Cannabis for colds and flu

While cannabis is not a cure for the common cold or flu, it can sometimes help people deal with related symptoms such as inflammation, pain, and trouble sleeping. During a battle with a cold or flu, the body goes through some immune system processes. The inflammatory response that is supposed to help the body fight off the infection can cause a fever, sore throat, and swelling in the nasal passages. Studies have shown that medical marijuana can help reduce this inflammatory response, and therefore, people with the common cold or flu can benefit from its use, if only for symptom relief.

Studies have also shown that cannabis can help regulate or induce sleep. People with colds or flu often suffer from a disturbed sleep cycle. Ingesting marijuana can help keep your sleep cycle as regular as possible, which in turn helps fight the disease. Finally, there is pain to contend with when battling a cold or flu. Medical marijuana is a proven pain reliever and can help patients with cold or flu-related pain find relief during recovery.

MMJRecs - Cold and FluImage by Brittany Colette on Unsplash: Medical marijuana can help relieve cold and flu symptoms such as swollen nasal passages.

Can CBD Oil Help With Colds?

Similar to all types of cannabis, CBD oil has been shown to relieve many symptoms such as chronic pain and inflammation. It does this by hindering the inflammatory response in the body. If a person has a cold, the use of CBD oil can help alleviate the symptoms caused by this overactive inflammatory response.

It won’t be a cure, but CBD oil works just as well as other types of cannabis at helping someone get through the cold or the flu. It is important to note that those who use CBD may also experience an impaired immune system response to pathogens as, like other forms of cannabis, it can suppress immune function.

Using medical marijuana during the winter is important for your specific health condition as you want to be as healthy as possible during the cold and flu seasons. By practicing good hygiene, following a diet that may help boost immune function, and continuing your treatment, you can avoid the flu and the common cold and everyone else, even if you are using medical marijuana.

Featured image by Dimitris Chapsoulas on Unsplash


Beth Edmonds