During a normal flu season, frequent weed smokers know the drill.
Pay closer attention to everyone's cough patterns during a smoke sesh. Stop accepting mouth-wet blunts from strangers. And if you think you're coming down with something, wave a lighter under the mouthpiece before passing the pipe.
This year, obviously, things are a bit more serious. We're dealing with multiple citywide quarantines, global economic disruption, and a pandemic being compared to the damn Spanish flu. It's enough to make self-respecting cannabis enthusiasts re-evaluate their medicine cabinet and diversify their stash box.
Obviously, there's no dependable research on CBD's or THC's effect on COVID-19. But we do know a few things about cannabis and general wellness. Down the rabbit hole of alternative cannabinoids and non-psychoactive cannabis, there is a wealth of potential medicinal benefits both preventative and curative.
At least when it comes to the regular flu, CBD has been found to help support immune systems, ease symptoms, and replace over-the-counter pain relievers, sleep aids, and medicated salves currently taking up space in our medicine cabinet. But not just any CBD will do, and CBD alone won't do it all.
Obviously, the best course of action right now is to keep vigorously washing your hands, mind your coughs, avoid large crowds, and be a bit more stingy with your pipes and joints. But if you find yourself slipping under the weather, for whatever reason, here are a few things to know about how cannabis might help ease symptoms.
CBD for Immune System Support
Tons more research is required to accurately map the relationship between the immune and endocannabinoid systems, but it's well established that CBD helps reduce self-harming autoimmune and inflammatory responses. "CBD has been found to act as an immune system modulator," says Anna Symonds, director of East Fork Cultivars' CBD Certified program. "This means that it's like a thermostat—it can turn the level of activity down or up, depending on the body's needs."
Ask your budtender for: Full-spectrum CBD oil that can be added to morning coffee, tea or juice as part of a regular wellness routine
Cannabis for Bronchodilation
According to Symonds, cannabis can act as a bronchodilator—a medication that opens the airways of the lungs by relaxing bronchial muscles. That's not a suggestion to smoke a fat blunt if you're already fighting bronchial irritation. But if you're clogged up with phlegm, using a tabletop vaporizer to smoothly inhale flower with a high concentration of alpha-pinene—a known bronchodilator—could support easier breathing.
Ask your budtender for: CBD-rich flower that reeks of evergreen trees and counts alpha-pinene in its terpene profile
Cannabis as an Antibacterial
There has been research into the antibacterial activity of all five major cannabinoids, but a February study led by McMaster University professor Eric Brown found that cannabigerol is particularly effective in treating antibiotic-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA. "CBG proved to be marvelous at tackling pathogenic bacteria," Brown says. "The findings suggest a real therapeutic potential for cannabinoids as antibiotics."
Ask your budtender for: A sterile elbow bump in celebration of this new finding
CBD as a Pain Reliever
CBD is popular for its effectiveness as a pain reliever, mostly due to its anti-inflammatory effects. But anyone who's bought CBD from both a respectable dispensary and a gas station counter can attest that efficacy varies greatly from product to product. The effectiveness of CBD isolate peaks at a "medium" dose and is generally less practical than full-spectrum products made from the whole plant, with the entire range of cannabinoids—including low levels of THC—and terpenes intact. Research indicates whole-plant formulated products are much more effective, so you can take a smaller dose than with isolate to get similar, if not more robust, effects.
Ask your budtender for: Full-spectrum, strain-specific CBD chocolates, gummies and topicals