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How To Care For A Sore Throat From Smoking Cannabis

Arguably the most common downside of smoking cannabis is a sore throat. Inhaling marijuana can irritate the throat and spoil an otherwise pleasant experience. We’ll walk you through why this happens, and offer remedies to treat it.

How to handle a sore throat when smoking cannabis.

  • 1. Why does smoking weed make you cough?
  • 2. Factors that contribute to a dry throat when smoking cannabis
  • 3. Alternatives to smoking cannabis
  • 4. How to treat a sore throat from smoking cannabis
  • 1. Why does smoking weed make you cough?
  • 2. Factors that contribute to a dry throat when smoking cannabis
  • 3. Alternatives to smoking cannabis
  • 4. How to treat a sore throat from smoking cannabis

Smoking cannabis comes with many wonderful effects. But, it can also have some less-than-enjoyable side effects, one of which is the dreaded dry mouth or “cottonmouth”. This is when your throat and mouth become dry and irritated after smoking.

Given how common it is for one to get a sore throat from smoking weed, we’ve looked into what causes it, and how you can help soothe your throat.

WHY DOES SMOKING WEED MAKE YOU COUGH?

The thing is, your throat doesn’t just get dry and irritated after enjoying a nice sesh; it also usually comes with a nasty cough. And once you start coughing, it aggravates your throat further, making you cough even more, which means even more irritation and more coughing… Well, you get the idea.

FACTORS THAT CONTRIBUTE TO A DRY THROAT WHEN SMOKING CANNABIS

So, what exactly is it that irritates your throat when you’re smoking cannabis? Let’s take a look!

BREATHING IN HOT SMOKE

Of course, when you’re enjoying hits from a joint or pipe, what you’re doing is inhaling hot smoke. The hot smoke heats up and dries out your throat and nasal passages. Check. But heat isn’t the only thing that contributes to this nasty side effect, otherwise we’d just need a glass of water and we’d be fine.

SUBSTANCES IN THE SMOKE FURTHER AGGRAVATE MATTERS

The passageway from your pharynx to the bronchioles in your lungs is now hot, dry, and irritated; it may even start to hurt. At this point, it would much rather not be further aggravated. But, that’s exactly what we’re doing since, after all, we’re smoking weed. The substances in your weed, including aromatic terpenes and cannabinoids, but also toxins from the smoke itself, will irritate your (already irritated) throat even more.

THC INHIBITS SALIVA PRODUCTION

When it comes to having a dry throat, you would think that the body would respond by producing more saliva to help things out a bit. And now comes the unfortunate part: cannabinoids such as THC and CBD may actually inhibit saliva production.

Well, say hello to a nasty, dry throat, lots of coughing, and the wonderful world of cottonmouth, courtesy of the same substance that also makes you high. Bummer, isn’t it?

ALTERNATIVES TO SMOKING CANNABIS

If your dry mouth has gotten so bad that it’s causing significant discomfort, the best thing may be to stop smoking cannabis altogether. But let’s not rush things; there are a number of creative alternatives to smoking. Here are some of them:

VAPING

Vaping is becoming increasingly popular, as evidenced by the plethora of associated products on the market. Inhaling vapour is safer and cleaner than smoke. Vapour (aka steam) contains far fewer potential toxins and carcinogens. The water in your body will also cool vapour more quickly than smoke—meaning less irritation when enjoying weed!

• More potent than smoking

• Be wary of low-quality vape liquids

EDIBLES

Edibles can be very precisely dosed. They come in many different forms, from chocolates and gummies that you can snack on to full-fledged cannabis meals.

Unlike smoking or vaping, the effects of edibles will take up to an hour to hit. It could be two hours before your digestive system fully distributes the cannabinoids throughout your system. On the plus side, the effects can then last some time—usually 4 to 8 hours.

• No harmful smoke

• Effects will last a long time

TOPICALS & PATCHES

Lastly, you can also use cannabis topicals such as creams, ointments, and transdermal patches. The latter work similarly to edibles in that they provide their beneficial effects slowly and steadily over the day.

Unlike transdermal patches, the cannabinoids in topical creams don’t enter the bloodstream, but they do penetrate deep into the skin to produce local effects. As such, creams and lotions can be a good option for users looking to soothe local aches such as joint and muscle pain.

• Can be used all throughout the day

HOW TO TREAT A SORE THROAT FROM SMOKING CANNABIS

We went over some alternatives to smoking cannabis you can try out, but some folks will inevitably refuse to stray from sparking up the herb. After all, what beats ripping a nice bowl with your friends? Let’s talk about how you can treat throat irritation and pain from smoking.

STAY HYDRATED

This should come as a no-brainer: stay hydrated! Nothing rehydrates a dry throat like a glass of water. Know that cool water is best for this purpose. Avoid hot drinks like coffee or tea.

USE LOZENGES OR CANDY

The same candies you can find to soothe a cold will do a good job for “weed throat” as well. Sucking on a sweet candy or a lozenge stimulates saliva production, which helps keep your mouth and throat moist. Most of the time, throat lozenges also contain local anaesthetics that can help with irritation and speed up the healing process.

HAVE A BOWL OF CHICKEN SOUP

A hearty bowl of chicken soup has long been used as a home remedy for symptoms of the common cold and flu. It soothes and moistens the throat, which makes it great for a sore throat from smoking weed. As an additional bonus, it provides a filling meal!

USE AN INHALER OR HUMIDIFIER

A steam inhaler is an effective way to bring moisture back into your passages. You can also look into a humidifier for your room. Alternatively, if you don’t want to spend money on an inhaler or humidifier, spend a few minutes in a steamy bathroom. Just pour hot water with a spoonful of VapoRub in your sink and slowly breathe over it with a towel covering your head.

SMOKE LOW-THC CANNABIS STRAINS

As mentioned above, THC is one reason smoking weed causes dry passageways and cottonmouth. But this doesn’t mean you need to stop enjoying weed: just select cannabis strains that are low in THC.

Check out the Top 5 Low-THC Cannabis Strains at Royal Queen Seeds, so you can enjoy a smoother and more pleasant smoke.

CUT DOWN ON YOUR CANNABIS USE

Taking anything in excess is bad. Even if the worst thing cannabis does is make your throat sore, it’s going to become exacerbated the more you smoke. Instead of letting a negative feedback loop accumulate, space out your smoking sessions to give your throat more time to heal. It will also make your stash last longer and your high feel stronger.

Smoking marijuana can irritate your throat and cause cottonmouth. If you're sick of having a sore throat from weed, consider these alternatives.

Is It Safe to Smoke Weed If You Have a Cold or the Flu?

The safety and long-term health effects of using e-cigarettes or other vaping products still aren’t well known. In September 2019, federal and state health authorities began investigating an outbreak of a severe lung disease associated with e-cigarettes and other vaping products . We’re closely monitoring the situation and will update our content as soon as more information is available.

There isn’t any evidence that smoking weed while you have a cough, cold, or the flu is inherently unsafe. But does it make sense?

If your throat and lungs are already irritated, smoking may exacerbate your discomfort. Smoking weed has short- and long-term effects on lung and respiratory function.

You may also find that your body responds differently to weed when you’re sick. Both smoking weed and common illnesses such as the flu can cause fatigue, chills, and headaches. You may feel these effects more intensely when you’re sick.

If you already smoke weed on a regular basis, doing so while you’re sick probably won’t have a drastic impact on your symptoms. Still, you should proceed with caution. This probably isn’t the time to experiment with new dosages and strains.

You should also keep in mind that you can spread your illness to others by sharing a joint, bowl, or bong.

Read on to learn more.

At this time, there isn’t any available research on smoking weed while sick with the cold or flu. Research exploring the use of weed for medicinal purposes is still extremely limited.

Although there may be benefits to smoking weed while sick, it’s unclear if they outweigh the potential negative effects.

Anti-inflammatory

According to a comprehensive 2017 review , there’s evidence that weed smoke has anti-inflammatory properties.

Inflammation plays a role in a number of cold and flu symptoms, including:

  • sore throat
  • swollen nasal passageways
  • fever

Weed’s anti-inflammatory properties might help relieve some of these symptoms, but more research needs to be done to understand the exact benefits.

Pain relief

The same 2017 review concludes that weed is an effective treatment for chronic pain among adults.

Chronic pain is ongoing. It’s different than the acute aches and pains caused by a cold or the flu.

Still, it’s possible that smoking weed could help relieve pain associated with short-term illnesses such as a cold or the flu.

Sleep aid

A 2017 review of research on cannabis and sleep indicates that weed’s active ingredient, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), may help sleep in the short term.

Given this, smoking weed might help you sleep, but when you’re sick with a cold or the flu your sleep cycle might already be altered.

However, long-term weed use is associated with tolerance to the drug’s sleep-inducing effects. In other words, if you’re a regular user, weed might not be as effective in helping you sleep.

Although there’s no serious risk, combining weed with OTC cold and flu medications that have sedative effects, such as NyQuil, can intensify drowsiness and affect cognitive function. You may find it more difficult to concentrate or make decisions.

Can smoking or ingesting marijuana while taking OTC medications for cold and flu result in any adverse effects?

Marijuana should be used with caution while taking OTC medications for cold and flu. Some OTC remedies alter how the body processes the psychoactive components of marijuana, which may lead to an accumulation of excess effects.

Additionally, many OTC options have dry mouth, sedation, confusion, blurry vision, heart rate alterations, and loss of balance as typical side effects in susceptible users; marijuana consumption may lead to worsening of these effects.

To avoid risk of adverse effect, wait to use marijuana (if an occasional or rare user) or do not increase your typical dose consumed (if a routine user) if you require OTC cold or flu medications.

Daniel Murrell, MD Answers represent the opinions of our medical experts. All content is strictly informational and should not be considered medical advice.

Remember, there hasn’t been any research on weed use while sick with a cough, cold, or flu. In addition, studies on the use of weed for medicinal purposes are limited.

There’s moderate evidence that smoking weed can lead to the following side effects, but this list may not be complete due to the lack of research.

Worsened cough

According to a 2017 review , smoking weed in the long term is associated with a chronic cough and excess phlegm production.

If you’re sick with a cough, cold, or flu, smoking weed could make your respiratory symptoms worse. This is because weed smoke irritates the throat and airways.

Other routes of administration, such as vaping, generally don’t have the same effect on the respiratory system.

Dizziness

Dizziness is a common side effect of both inhaling and ingesting cannabis. Cannabis use can cause a sudden drop in blood pressure that may leave you feeling faint or light-headed.

If you already feel weak or dizzy while sick with a cough, cold, or flu, weed could make it worse.

If you’re a regular user, you may be able to minimize dizziness by decreasing your dosage.

Stomach pain

Inhaling or ingesting cannabis activates cannabinoid receptors in the gastrointestinal system. This can cause a variety of effects, including stomach pain and inflammation.

Cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome, a rare condition linked to long-term cannabis use, causes severe stomach pain, nausea, and vomiting.

Weed use could exacerbate stomach symptoms caused by a cold or the flu, especially if you tend to experience stomach pain when you use weed. You may be able to minimize these effects by decreasing your dosage.

There isn't any evidence that smoking weed while you have a cough, cold, or the flu is inherently unsafe. But if your throat is already irritated, smoking may feel uncomfortable. Your body may also respond differently to weed while you’re sick. Here's what you should know about toking, vaping, edibles, and more.