Can cannabis help with the prevention and symptoms of coronavirus?

by Nick Gonzales

So you’ve got COVID-19, or you’re worried about catching it, or you’re one of the few survivors of the coronavirus apocalypse reading a scrap of this article, trying to piece together how society collapsed and you’re wondering whether cannabis could have helped treat or prevent the spread of the disease.

It’s not the weirdest question. After all, medical marijuana is used to treat a number of conditions, from Alzheimer’s disease to cancer to multiple sclerosis. Research suggests that cannabinoids reduce anxiety, inflammation, and pain. But can they help you fight off a virus?

The problem with answering that question is that there’s not a ton of research on the use of cannabis in treating diseases in general, let alone coronavirus. However, the symptoms of COVID-19 are not entirely unlike the flu, and there’s some assumptions you can make based on that comparison. And some of it is pretty common sense. (But keep in mind that we’re not doctors here at DGO – if you’re legit worried about something, you should contact a medical professional.)

When it comes to controlling the spread of disease, maybe put an indefinite hiatus on sharing bongs, joints, and pipes with others. You’re not being stingy by not puffing and passing if it keeps us all alive. And if you absolutely have to share, say, a pipe, the Willamette Week points out its probably worth waving a lighter under the mouthpiece before passing it. Using alcohol wipes to sterilize pipes and bongs between users also isn’t a bad idea, according to Josh Jardine of the Portland Mercury.

And wash your goddamn hands, you dirty heathens.

But should you put a damper on your cannabis consumption? Probably not. Stress impacts your immune system, lowering your body’s ability to fight off illnesses, including viruses. And what’s, like, the one thing that we pretty much know weed can do? Reduce stress. If you’re not sick, smoke ’em if you’ve got ’em.

If you’re sick, though, hold off at least on the smoking part. In addition to fever, the symptoms of coronavirus are cough and shortness of breath, said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Smoking anything – not just cannabis – will irritate your respiratory system and exacerbate those symptoms, so find another method of consuming whatever cannabis you’re planning to take.

Consuming cannabis through other means, however, might provide mild relief for flu-like symptoms. The CBD in marijuana has been found to reduce self-harming autoimmune and inflammatory responses, said the Week. It can also open the airways of the lungs by relaxing bronchial muscles. Vaporizing a CBD-rich flower with alpha-pinene in its terpene profile (and which smells like evergreen trees) might be in order.

CBD is also popular for its effectiveness at reducing pain, which could come in handy if you’re feeling like you have the flu. The Week said products made with the whole plant, not just the CBD, are more effective here if you’re in the market for edibles or topicals.

That advice to gather 30-day supplies of anything you’re going to need applies to cannabis as well, said Jardine, so it may be worth stocking up.

Nick Gonzales

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