Updated on November 9, 2021.
Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
If you have read that cannabis can cure the common cold, spoiler alert; it can’t. In fact, some of the world’s best researchers and scientists still can’t figure out how to get rid of the common cold. Or create a vaccine for it. And no one has proven that cannabis can cure a cold. And that’s why we love the cold and flu season.
But can you use cannabis to help moderate the symptoms of a bad cold or flu? That’s possible. Cannabis can help reduce inflammation and pain, including stiff muscles from coughing. It can help stimulate your appetite if you are finding it hard to eat when your nose is stuffed up.
Have you ever taken one of those over-the-counter nighttime formulas for a cold or flu? Many people wake up feeling like they have a hangover the next day. It can be hard to fall asleep and get the quality deep sleep your immune system needs. Cannabis (Indica) can also help with that.
Respiratory congestion and smoking don’t mix. And no physician would advise it. So that leaves you with two viable options if you want to self-medicate using medical marijuana when you have a cold. You can use a tincture (hot green tea and cannabis is a great combination). Or you can create some edible comfort foods.
The History of the Common Cold Goes Back to 1500 BC
When you learn how old the common cold is, it is pretty interesting. The first known writing about cold symptoms was described in ancient Egyptian medicinal text. The Ebers Papyrus is a 110-page scroll. If you rolled it out it would look something like Santa’s list; it’s twenty (20) meters long. The medical and herbal anthology was made in 1500 BC.
The cures in the ancient texts read something like advice your Mom might give you. Rest. Drink lots of fluids. Eat garlic and citrus fruits. The Egyptians were great medical researchers and physicians in ancient times. Some of the plant medicines they used can still be found in many prescription and over-the-counter medications.
Some of the most common herbs used by Egyptian physicians were:
In many of the ancient texts, cannabis was used to not cure colds, but to help with the symptoms. For example, if you had aches and pain from influenza, cannabis could help with that. Back then, even though inflammation was not understood well, cannabis was used frequently as a medicinal. And sometimes, to help fight a fever.
Our ancestors figured if you couldn’t cure something, at least you can make yourself comfortable. And cannabis definitely has that medicinal potential. Some strains more than others.
Cannabis-Infused Comfort Foods
Let’s face it when you are sick, you want to eat things that make you feel better. Not all comfort foods are created equal, though. Craving mashed potatoes because your throat is sore is understandable, but they have almost zero nutrient value. Low-nutrient foods aren’t going to help you get better faster.
You’ve probably heard the phrase “starve a fever, feed a cold”. It’s good advice, according to many clinical studies. But when your sinuses are stuffed up, and your lungs feel congested, sometimes things don’t taste very good. Your appetite can take a real hit when you can’t smell anything too.
If it is legal for you to use, you can quickly make your own cannabis-infused foods and beverages. Remember, you need to decarboxylate your raw cannabis before including them in any recipe. Or, use a moderate potency flavorless tincture to quickly add cannabinoids to your meal.
Heading into the cold and flu season, you may want to remember your nine-leaf (Sativa) or seven-leaf (Indica) friend for some herbal relief. Here are a few great recipes we found that you might want to try at home.
Bone Broth and Bud
All hot soups feel great when you have a cold. But if you are going to make your own soup, make sure you include some bones in your broth. The reason is that the nutrients inside beef or chicken bones have powerful nutrients that will kick your immune system into high gear.
If you are a vegan, stop reading here. But know that there are also vegan versions of non-bone soup base that you can buy. Animal bones, however, are a rich source of magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, calcium, and other important minerals.
Bone broth also contains minerals and vitamins that most people don’t get in their regular diet. That includes important nutrients like:
Collagen (gelatin and amino acids)
You don’t even have to hover over your stove. If you have a crockpot (best invention ever!) you can load up all the ingredients, including decarboxylated cannabis, set it and forget it. When it’s done cooking, your crockpot should go to a low warming only temperature, so you can get your soup on.
Check out these great cannabis bone broth recipes from 420 food bloggers:
Any chicken or beef soup recipe will do if you make your own bone broth. But if you are working with chicken or beef stock, you won’t get the same nutritional value. When you are sick, soup is worth making at home.
Chili Con Cannabis
If soup isn’t going to cut it and you want something more substantial, you can take out your slow cooker and make some chili con cannabis. It is so easy to make, and it really hits the spot, packing a lot of protein from the beans. But did you know that beans provide more than just proteins?
When you make your own chili with unprocessed beans and legumes, you get a big vitamin and mineral boost. Beans are also a great alternative for vegans or vegetarians, because most legumes have the same nutrients as meat, but they have lower iron levels by comparison.
With a scratch chili, you can get protein, fiber, iron, calcium, potassium folate, phosphorus, B-vitamins, and zinc with a scratch chili. All nutrients your immune system can use to get that cold and flu out of your body.
If all that cooking sounds like too much work, but you still want to sip some hot cannabis, tea may be the way to go. You can get nutrients and enzymes (polyphenol oxidase and peroxidase) from good-quality teas. Both enzymes have antimicrobial benefits meaning they can help your body get rid of a bacterial infection.
Since you are stuck at home anyway, you can order some different tisanes (dried flowers, fruits, etc.) and teas to make your own brews. Check out this article as a resource guide on MassRoots.