• Cannabidiol (CBD) oil’s purported therapeutic effects may help alleviate common cold symptoms(1).
  • The common cold results from nose and throat inflammation and may induce pain due to headache or sore throat(2). Studies show that CBD has anti-inflammatory properties and analgesic (pain-relieving) properties(3) that may help with colds. 
  • CBD may improve sleep quality among people with anxiety problems(4). Individuals with poor sleep quality are more susceptible to the common cold(5).
  • A 2021 study suggested that CBD may help fight the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which induces common cold-like symptoms(6).
  • More clinical evidence is required to verify CBD’s efficacy in colds. Individuals considering CBD should talk to a doctor before consuming CBD for colds.

How Does CBD Oil Work to Help With Colds?

Research shows that the chemical compound CBD interacts with receptors in the endocannabinoid system (ECS)(7). The ECS helps regulate functions of the nervous, cardiovascular, and immune systems(8).  

Scientists suggest CBD can attach to cannabinoid receptors, including CB1 and CB2 receptors, to suppress the inflammatory response(9)

The authors of a 2008 study suggested that the body’s ECS affects sleep modulation(10). Poor sleep quality can lower one’s immunity, affecting one’s vulnerability to common cold viruses(11)

The ECS may also be connected to other bodily functions, such as heart rate, blood pressure, and energy metabolism(12).  

Why Are People Turning to CBD for Colds?

Inflammation that affects a person’s nose and throat in the upper respiratory tract causes the common cold(13). Rhinoviruses most frequently cause the common cold(14).  

No cure exists for the common cold. Numerous people recover from it within ten days(15). Natural remedies and over-the-counter (OTC) products are often used to manage symptoms of the common cold, such as sinus infections. 

Common natural remedies include homemade chicken soup, which may help ease symptoms of respiratory tract infections, according to a 2000 study implemented by the University of Nebraska Medical Center(16).

Research and Studies on CBD for Colds

Studies show that CBD has anti-inflammatory properties and analgesic properties(17). It may benefit the common cold, which results from nose and throat inflammation and induces pain, such as headaches or sore throat.

A 2010 study administered by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) produced mixed results based on the particular viruses involved, Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV)-1 and HSV-2(18)

The researchers noted that cannabinoids may help with persistent viral infections. Cannabinoids are a specific group of chemical compounds that contain active components of the cannabis plant.   

However, the researchers also noted that the chemical compounds may weaken a person’s natural immune function.    

Individuals with cold or flu-like symptoms that believe their illness is more severe than the common cold or flu should seek medical attention immediately. 

For example, while COVID-19 shares some symptoms with influenza, coronavirus disease is a severe respiratory illness that may require hospitalization(19).  

Pros and Cons: Can CBD Help with Colds? 

The Pros

  • Studies show that CBD may improve sleep quality among people with anxiety problems(20). People with poor sleep quality are more susceptible to the common cold(21).
  • CBD is not psychoactive, meaning CBD users do not experience mind-altering effects with CBD(22)
  • The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) promotes research on the possible medicinal uses of various cannabis strains(23).

The Cons 

  • No scientific evidence exists that CBD can directly reduce cold symptoms, such as a cough or runny nose.
  • CBD products, particularly those sold through e-commerce, have a high rate of mislabeling and lack standardization(24). Consumers should read all terms of use and disclaimers. 
  • Vomiting and diarrhea are commonly observed side effects of CBD intake in humans(25). People who experience these side effects should immediately see their doctor.  
  • The seizure medication Epidiolex is the only FDA-approved CBD product(26)

Comparing CBD Oil and Alternative Treatments for Colds

Possible interventions to prevent the common cold include vitamin C, zinc, and probiotics(27). These remedies may be alternatives to CBD products. 

Data regarding vitamin C intake shows that the organic compound may lower the duration and severity of colds in study subjects(28).

Zinc intake within 24 hours of the start of cold symptoms may reduce the severity and duration of colds in healthy human subjects(29).

Studies show that probiotics may be beneficial in preventing upper respiratory tract infection(30). Probiotics are live microorganisms with purported health benefits. 

Cannabidiol similarly contains properties that may alleviate the common cold’s symptoms. Edible or topical CBD products infused with vitamin c, zinc, and probiotics may benefit individuals with colds. 

How to Select the Right CBD for Colds

CBD comes in different types: CBD isolates, full-spectrum, and broad-spectrum. 

Full-spectrum CBD contains all naturally occurring compounds found in cannabis plants. It has high levels of cannabidiol and trace amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), flavonoids (plant metabolites), terpenes (aromatic compounds), and other minerals.

Meanwhile, broad-spectrum CBD contains similar contents as full-spectrum without the psychoactive compound THC. 

Finally, CBD isolates contain pure cannabidiol and are usually sold as powder or crystals. 

Consumers should choose only CBD products with the best quality to maximize the compound’s health and wellness benefits.

When purchasing high-quality CBD, consider the following:

  • Industrial hemp is high in fiber yet low in THC content(31). 
  • CBD legality varies from state to state. 

Medical marijuana is legal in most states, while others have passed laws legalizing CBD based on stipulations, including the form, THC level, and usage(32).  

  • Each CBD product should include a certificate of analysis (COA). The COA shows that a third-party laboratory tested the product.

CBD Dosage for the Flu and Colds

The FDA has not officially approved a CBD dosage guide. Human clinical trials on CBD, however, may provide insight for safe and reliable CBD doses.  

One study used a daily dose of CBD to treat anxiety, which produced sufficient clinical response(33). CBD produced few reported side effects and was well tolerated. 

A 2021 review reported that high doses of CBD up to 1,500 mg per day are well tolerated in human subjects(34)

How to Take CBD Hemp Oil for Colds

Taking CBD hemp through tinctures allows people to measure the amount of cannabidiol they use. 

CBD oil drops are put under the tongue using a dropper. The oil is held there for 30 to 60 seconds before swallowing. 

Consuming CBD gummies, tablets, and capsules is another straightforward way to consume CBD. They also come in predetermined CBD doses for consumers’ convenience.

Vaping gets CBD into the system quickly. However, vaping is not a recommended form of CBD administration for colds. 

A 2008 study showed that cigarette smoke could worsen viral infections, including influenza(35).

What Are Colds and the Flu? 

Colds and the flu are both classified as contagious respiratory illnesses caused by viruses. The influenza virus causes the flu, while several viruses can cause the common cold(36)

Common flu symptoms indicating the effects of an immune response include(37):

  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Stuffy nose or runny nose
  • Headaches
  • Body aches
  • Fatigue
  • Chills

The flu sometimes leads to influenza deaths. Experts estimate that the flu causes approximately 23,600 deaths in the United States every year(38)

The flu and cold can also have similar symptoms, which can make it difficult to distinguish them. The flu is generally more severe than colds(39)

How Do People Get Colds and the Flu? 

The colds and the flu viruses can spread from person to person, often through the air. Infected individuals are contagious for several days after they have fallen ill.

One can catch viruses like influenza when someone near them is coughing or sneezing(40)

Viruses continuously mutate to breach the body’s immune system’s defenses. Antibiotics designed for bacteria produce no effect on viruses(41)

Viruses can stay alive on hard, non-porous surfaces for 24 to 48 hours(42). People can become infected by touching something the virus is on, like a phone, pen, or doorknob, and then touch their nose or mouth. 

How Do Colds Impact Infected Individuals? 

Viruses are microscopic infectious agents coated with thin layers of protein(43)

The cold or flu viruses cannot reproduce by themselves. They use human cells to replicate themselves.   

Once the virus infiltrates a human cell, it utilizes the cell to clone itself. After the cell breaks, the virus seeks a new cell or combines with the cell’s DNA. 

The virus moves through the process of genetic duplication (mitosis) and cellular division (cytokinesis).

Why Let a Cold Run Its Course?

Viruses that produce colds and the flu affect weak cells with many toxins(44). The body would prefer to rid itself of these cells in some ways. 

A cold or the flu, however, is a natural event. It identifies, destroys, and eliminates damaged cells. Thus, one remedy is to let the cold run its course. 

Common Flu Treatments

Flu vaccines develop antibodies two weeks after an individual is vaccinated(45). The antibodies protect an individual from influenza infections. 

Meanwhile, antiviral medications target a range of viruses, including influenza viruses(46)

It is critical to wash one’s hands frequently during the flu season, especially before eating or touching the eyes, mouth, or nose. Avoiding sick people can also help stop the flu from spreading.

Conclusion

CBD may have antibacterial properties and anti-inflammatory effects and properties that may benefit individuals with colds(47)

The chemical compound may help reduce chronic pain and inflammation(48)

CBD studies conducted by organizations such as the University of Colorado yielded promising results(49)

Still, researchers have conducted no direct studies on CBD and colds. People interested in trying CBD products for colds should first seek medical advice from a doctor.


  1. Cannabinoids and Viral Infections
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2903762/
  2. Common cold                                                                                              https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/common-cold/symptoms-causes/syc-20351605
  3. Antioxidative and Anti-Inflammatory Properties of Cannabidiol https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7023045/
  4. Cannabidiol in Anxiety and Sleep: A Large Case Series https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6326553/
  5. Lack of sleep: Can it make you sick?                                           https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/insomnia/expert-an
  6. Cannabidiol Inhibits SARS-CoV-2 Replication and Promotes the Host Innate Immune Response https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7987002/
  7. Cannabinoid Receptors and the Endocannabinoid System: Signaling and Function in the Central Nervous System                                       https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5877694/
  8. The Therapeutic Aspects of the Endocannabinoid System (ECS) for Cancer and their Development: From Nature to Laboratory https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5412000/
  9. Immune Responses Regulated by Cannabidiol https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7173676/
  10. The role of the CB1 receptor in the regulation of sleep https://docs.google.com/document/d/19UGUisImSLC50AbmbTUnKtwxpKBAjAW9-BdRbeHM1Gw/edit#
  11. Sleep habits and susceptibility to the common cold                  https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19139325/
  12. Endocannabinoid system in cardiovascular disorders – new pharmacotherapeutic opportunities https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3178941/
  13. Common cold                                                                                    https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/common-cold/symptoms-causes/syc-20351605
  14. What is the common cold?                                                      https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/common-cold
  15. Common cold                                                                                                  https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/common-cold/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20351611
  16. Got a cold or flu? UNMC researcher says try chicken soup to ease symptoms https://www.unmc.edu/news.cfm?match=9973
  17. Antioxidative and Anti-Inflammatory Properties of Cannabidiol https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7023045/
  18. Cannabinoids and Viral Infections      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2903762/
  19. Similarities and differences between COVID-19 and Influenza https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/question-and-answers-hub/q-a-detail/coronavirus-disease-covid-19-similarities-and-differences-with-influenza
  20. Cannabidiol in Anxiety and Sleep: A Large Case Series https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6326553/
  21. Lack of sleep: Can it make you sick?                                           https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/insomnia/expert-answers/lack-of-sleep/faq-20057757
  22. What are the benefits of CBD — and is it safe to use?              https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/consumer-health/expert-answers/is-cbd-safe-and-effective/faq-20446700
  23. FDA Regulation of Cannabis and Cannabis-Derived Products, Including Cannabidiol (CBD) https://www.fda.gov/news-events/public-health-focus/fda-regulation-cannabis-and-cannabis-derived-products-including-cannabidiol-cbd
  24. Inadequate Regulation Contributes to Mislabeled Online Cannabidiol Products https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6024459/
  25. What are the benefits of CBD — and is it safe to use?              https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/consumer-health/expert-answers/is-cbd-safe-and-effective/faq-20446700
  26. FDA Regulation of Cannabis and Cannabis-Derived Products, Including Cannabidiol (CBD) https://www.fda.gov/news-events/public-health-focus/fda-regulation-cannabis-and-cannabis-derived-products-including-cannabidiol-cbd
  27. Prevention and treatment of the common cold: making sense of the evidence https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3928210/
  28. Vitamin C in the Prevention and Treatment of the Common Cold https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6124957/
  29. Zinc for the common cold                                                      https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23775705/
  30. Probiotics for preventing acute upper respiratory tract infections https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21901706/
  31. Industrial hemp                                                                              https://www.agmrc.org/commodities-products/fiber/industrial-hemp
  32. States with Legal Cannabidiol (CBD)                             https://medicalmarijuana.procon.org/states-with-legal-cannabidiol-cbd/
  33. Cannabidiol in Anxiety and Sleep: A Large Case         https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22129319/
  34. Safety and side effects of cannabidiol, a Cannabis sativa constituent https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22129319/
  35. Study shows why cigarette smoke makes flu, other viral infections worse https://news.yale.edu/2008/07/24/study-shows-why-cigarette-smoke-makes-flu-other-viral-infections-worse
  36. Cold versus flu                                                              https://www.cdc.gov/flu/symptoms/coldflu.htm
  37. ibid.
  38. How Many People Die From Flu Each Year?                            https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2010/08/26/129456941/annual-flu-death-average-fluctuates-depending-on-how-you-slice-it
  39. Cold versus flu                                                              https://www.cdc.gov/flu/symptoms/coldflu.htm
  40. Influenza (flu)                                                                                  https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/flu/symptoms-causes/syc-20351719
  41. Germs: Understand and protect against bacteria, viruses and infection https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/infectious-diseases/in-depth/germs/art-20045289
  42. Survival of influenza viruses on environmental surfaces https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/6282993/
  43. Section 6.3Viruses: Structure, Function, and Uses https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK21523/
  44. Viral infections                                                                    https://medlineplus.gov/viralinfections.html
  45. Key facts about seasonal flu vaccine                                      https://www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent/keyfacts.htm
  46. Antiviral Drugs for Viruses Other Than Human Immunodeficiency Virus https://www.mayoclinicproceedings.org/article/S0025-619665243-9/fulltext
  47. Cannabidiol exerts sebostatic and antiinflammatory effects on human sebocytes https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4151231/
  48. Cannabinoids in the management of difficult to treat pain https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7204604/
  49. Results from CBD clinical trial to assess efficacy on seizure frequency in dogs ‘encouraging’ https://cvmbs.source.colostate.edu/results-from-cbd-clinical-trial-to-assess-efficacy-on-seizure-frequency-in-dogs-encouraging/
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