Can CBD Help with Sore Throat?

  • CBD may be a potential speculative treatment for sore throat due to its reported antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties(1).
  • A study has shown that cannabidiol acted as a capable compound helper as it increased the antibacterial activity of certain antibiotic medications(2).
  • Another study revealed that CBD improved the ability of bacitracin to kill Gram-positive bacteria(3), a type of bacteria that can cause sore throat.
  • However, the evidence surrounding CBD‘s effectiveness against sore throat is lacking.
  • Interested CBD users are advised to consult a doctor before purchasing and using any cannabidiol product or if they are concerned about a sore throat.

Why People Are Turning to CBD for Sore Throat

Cannabidiol (CBD) could be a potentially effective treatment for sore throat due to its supposed health benefits.

CBD is a chemical substance that can be obtained from cannabis strains, such as hemp plants.

In clinical trials, cannabidiol was found to exert antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties(4). Researchers even assumed that the antibacterial activity of hemp essential oils is perhaps due to the CBD content.

A study published in Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology revealed that CBD acts as a novel modulator of bacterial membrane vesicles(5)

Cannabidiol reportedly increased the bactericidal action of several antibiotics and also the antibiotic effects of kanamycin against Gram-positive bacteria. Kanamycin is an antibiotic used in treating a wide range of infections.

The study’s authors concluded that the compound might be used with specific antibiotic drugs as a potential agent to enhance antibacterial activity and reduce antibiotic resistance(6).

In another study, researchers learned that cannabidiol acted as a useful helper compound when combined with bacitracin to kill Gram-positive bacteria(7). Bacitracin is an antibiotic ointment used to help prevent minor skin infections.

Infection with specific Gram-positive bacteria can result in a sore throat(8).

Although these studies suggest that CBD may benefit patients with a sore throat, no direct or human (clinical) evidence exists to prove that CBD can effectively treat the condition.

How CBD Oil Works to Help with Sore Throat

There is a lack of scientific information on how CBD exerts its supposed antimicrobial effects.

However, the compound is known to engage with both CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors of the endocannabinoid system (ECS)(9).

The ECS is a part of the body that regulates certain functions, such as the immune system and central nervous system. Its contribution to regulating various bodily processes makes it an attractive therapeutic target for many medical fields, including studies on antibacterial activity(10).

The CB2 receptors are primarily involved in immunosuppressive and anti-inflammatory actions(11). Activation of these receptors is believed to bring about these therapeutic benefits.

The Pros and Cons of CBD Oil for Sore Throat

The Pros

  • Studies have shown that CBD may have some antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties(12) that theoretically could benefit a person with a sore throat, yet unproven.
  • In another study, cannabidiol was found to increase the antibacterial activity of specific antibiotic drugs(13). Researchers also learned that CBD acted as a capable helper compound with bacitracin in killing Gram-positive bacteria(14).
  • Selling, transporting, and possessing cannabidiol is now legal, so long as the compound has been extracted from hemp plants in a manner compliant with the 2018 Farm Bill. Even the transportation of these specific, hemp-derived products is now allowed across state lines(15). However, you should always check your local and state laws before transporting CBD or any cannabinoid as some exceptions may apply.
  • Research on the potential medicinal uses of cannabis plants and its derivatives is supported by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA)(16).
  • CBD is a non-psychoactive compound of cannabis, unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Although both are present in marijuana, it is the THC content that causes the mind-altering effects.

The Cons

  • There is a distinct lack of clinical data to prove that CBD could treat a sore throat.
  • Although it does not cause a sore throat, using CBD can lead to side effects, such as dry mouth, drowsiness, reduced appetite, diarrhea, and fatigue(17).
  • Apart from Epidiolex, a CBD drug used to treat epilepsy, no other marketing application for cannabidiol has been approved by the FDA(18).
  • A lack of standardization in the CBD industry has led many brands to inaccurately label their cannabidiol products, especially those sold on the internet(19).
  • Health insurance providers do not cover the use of CBD products as part of their plans.

How CBD Oil Compares to Alternative Treatments for Sore Throat

Sage, thyme, and barberry are believed to have antibacterial properties that can counteract bacteria that cause sore throat(20).  

In a clinical trial, a combination treatment of sage and echinacea reportedly exhibited similar efficacy to chlorhexidine and lidocaine treatment in reducing symptoms of a sore throat(21).

Chlorhexidine is an antiseptic used to disinfect the skin before surgery, while lidocaine works as a local anesthetic. 

Thyme essential oil was found to exhibit antibacterial activity against Streptococcus pyogenes, a type of bacteria that can cause sore throat(22).

Meanwhile, ethanol and aqueous extracts of barberry exhibited anti-inflammatory properties(23) that may be used to create health products for soothing sore throats.

In comparison, cannabidiol is believed to have properties that may help with a sore throat.

CBD also has anti-inflammatory effects(24) similar to the essential oil extracted from thyme.

How to Choose the Right CBD for Sore Throat

To choose the right cannabidiol product for sore throat, users must know the various types of CBD available today.

The three forms of CBD are full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, and isolate.

Full-spectrum is the type of cannabidiol that has all of the cannabinoids and other natural compounds of Cannabis sativa plants. It comes with flavonoids, terpenes, and THC.

High-quality full-spectrum CBD products are rich in cannabidiol while having small amounts of the other substances present.

The next type is known as broad-spectrum, a form of CBD that is similar to full-spectrum. Its primary difference is that it does not have tetrahydrocannabinol included.

Since THC is psychotropic, some people prefer not to use products that have it. Those who also want to benefit from all of the cannabis compounds except for THC often choose broad-spectrum.

The last type of CBD is called isolate. CBD isolates are made of pure cannabidiol and are typically found in crystalline form.

CBD isolates do not have a distinct taste or smell because of their purity.

Of the three, full-spectrum cannabidiol is perhaps the most potent form of CBD available. It is known for the synergism known as the “entourage effect.”

This effect is a proposed action wherein all cannabis constituents work more efficiently when consumed together(25).

Full-spectrum CBD oil could be an ideal option for treating sore throat.

No matter the form of cannabidiol desired, it is best to select high-quality products all the time to maximize the benefits of CBD.

Here are the following tips to help users choose the best CBD oil products for sore throat:

  • Acquire the certificate of analysis (COA) of the selected CBD product. This document provides an analysis report showing that the item has undergone proper testing and contains the specifications listed on its label.
  • The best source for cannabidiol is industrial hemp. Buy from CBD brands that use organic hemp for their products.
  • Make sure to read product and shop reviews before buying from an online CBD store. When purchasing from a dispensary, ensure that the establishment is authorized to sell cannabidiol.
  • Be knowledgeable of the legalities concerning CBD use in various states. Although CBD is currently legal, the laws surrounding its use may change at any time.
  • Talk to a medical professional, preferably someone knowledgeable with medical cannabis, before purchasing or using any CBD product.

CBD Dosage for Sore Throat

There is no official guide on CBD dosage for sore throat that has been approved by the FDA.

However, one can look at past clinical trials on human subjects to find a dose range that is safe and reliable.

In 2019, The Permanente Journal published a study on anxiety where patients took 25 mg to 175 mg of CBD per day(26). Besides eliciting an adequate clinical response, the compound was reportedly well-tolerated by the subjects, and the side effects were minimal.

A review in 2017 mentioned that humans could take as much as 1,500 mg of CBD per day. Its authors also noted that none of the studies that were assessed reported tolerance to cannabidiol(27).

How to Take CBD Oil for Sore Throat

Taking CBD hemp oil by using tinctures is a quick way of applying the compound when needed. These products usually come with droppers that make the mixture easy to administer under the tongue.

A straightforward approach is by consuming CBD in the form of gummies, cookies, capsules, and tablets. Edibles can be eaten like snacks, while capsules and tablets can be administered orally similar to dietary supplements.

Although vaping may be a quick way of getting cannabidiol in the system, it is not a recommended way of administering CBD for sore throat.

Smoking cannabis or using CBD vape devices can worsen one’s condition, primarily because the two are often associated with lung problems(28).

What Is a Sore Throat?

A sore throat, also called pharyngitis, is the feeling of pain, irritation, or scratchiness of the throat that could get worse when swallowing.

Viral infections (the common cold or flu) are the most common causes of a sore throat. It can also be a result of irritants, like chemicals or tobacco smoke.

Streptococcal pharyngitis (strep throat) is a unique and less common type of sore throat caused by bacteria. It often requires treatment using antibiotics to prevent further complications(29).

A sore throat can have varying symptoms depending on its cause. These include:

  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Scratchy or painful sensation in the throat
  • Worsening pain when talking or swallowing
  • Swollen glands by the jaw or neck
  • Red and swollen tonsils
  • A muffled or hoarse voice
  • Presence of pus or white patches on the tonsils

Infections that cause a sore throat may also result in other symptoms, such as:

The following are some risk factors that can make a person more susceptible to a sore throat:

  • Age – Children ages three to fifteen years old are more likely to catch strep throat.
  • Allergies – Ongoing allergic reactions to molds, dust, or pet dander and seasonal allergies increase the likelihood that a person develops a sore throat.
  • Frequent sinus infections – Drainage from the nose can irritate the throat or spread viral diseases.
  • Weak immune system – A person is more susceptible to viral infections if their immune response is low.
  • Close quarters – Viruses and bacteria can quickly spread in places where people gather, especially in confined spaces.
  • Exposure to chemicals or smoking – Particles in the air coming from household chemicals and burning offal fuels can lead to throat irritation. Smoking also lowers immunity and predisposes people to sinus infections in general.

How Is a Sore Throat Treated?

A doctor determines the type of sore throat a person has by first asking them about their symptoms. They also perform a physical examination and may sometimes carry out a swab test on the throat.

Since bacteria cause strep throat, antibiotics are required to get rid of an infection while preventing rheumatic fever and other conditions.

People who have strep throat should stay home from school or work until their fever subsides. They must also have taken antibiotics for a minimum of twenty-four hours.

However, antibiotics do not work against pharyngitis caused by cold viruses. A sore throat due to viral infection typically gets better within a week(30).

The following are tips that can help alleviate symptoms of a sore throat:

  • Gargling with warm salt water several times a day
  • Drinking a glass of water containing lemon tea with honey
  • Eating lozenges or candies that can stimulate saliva production
  • Using a humidifier or cool-mist vaporizer to moisten the air and help soothe a dry throat
  • Taking over-the-counter pain medication, such as ibuprofen


The anti-inflammatory effects of CBD may be useful against viral infections that can lead to a sore throat.

According to studies, cannabidiol has been found to exert antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties that could help with sore throat symptoms.

CBD is also thought to interact with various receptors in the body to bring about its supposed therapeutic effects.

However, the lack of scientific evidence makes it difficult to prove that CBD is an effective treatment for sore throat.

Cannabidiol is not known to irritate the throat, but it can have adverse effects upon consumption. Studies have often reported side effects, including dry mouth, drowsiness, and diarrhea.

Unlike THC, CBD is a non-psychoactive compound that does not cause mind-altering effects when taken.

Still, a person should consult a doctor before deciding to use any CBD product for their condition. An expert who is experienced with medical marijuana is recommended.

Always consult a licensed healthcare professional for treatment of a sore throat or any other health concern.

  1. Iseppi R, Brighenti V, Licata M, et al. Chemical Characterization and Evaluation of the Antibacterial Activity of Essential Oils from Fibre-Type Cannabis sativa L. (Hemp). Molecules. 2019;24(12):2302. Published 2019 Jun 21. doi:10.3390/molecules24122302
  2. Kosgodage US, Matewele P, Awamaria B, et al. Cannabidiol Is a Novel Modulator of Bacterial Membrane Vesicles. Front Cell Infect Microbiol. 2019;9:324. Published 2019 Sep 10. doi:10.3389/fcimb.2019.00324
  3. Wassmann CS, Højrup P, Klitgaard JK. Cannabidiol is an effective helper compound in combination with bacitracin to kill Gram-positive bacteria. Sci Rep. 2020;10(1):4112. Published 2020 Mar 5. doi:10.1038/s41598-020-60952-0
  4. Iseppi R, Brighenti V, Licata M, et al. op. cit.
  5. Kosgodage US, Matewele P, Awamaria B, et al. op. cit.
  6. Ibid.
  7. Wassmann CS, Højrup P, Klitgaard JK. op. cit.
  8. Sizar O, Unakal CG. Gram Positive Bacteria. [Updated 2020 Jun 27]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2020 Jan-. Available from:
  9. Wassmann CS, Højrup P, Klitgaard JK. op. cit.
  10. Bruni N, Della Pepa C, Oliaro-Bosso S, Pessione E, Gastaldi D, Dosio F. Cannabinoid Delivery Systems for Pain and Inflammation Treatment. Molecules. 2018;23(10):2478. Published 2018 Sep 27. doi:10.3390/molecules23102478
  11. Ashton JC, Glass M. The cannabinoid CB2 receptor as a target for inflammation-dependent neurodegeneration. Curr Neuropharmacol. 2007;5(2):73-80. doi:10.2174/157015907780866884
  12. Iseppi R, Brighenti V, Licata M, et al. op. cit.
  13. Kosgodage US, Matewele P, Awamaria B, et al. op. cit.
  14. Wassmann CS, Højrup P, Klitgaard JK. op. cit.
  15. Hudak, J (2018, December 14). The Farm Bill, hemp legalization and the status of CBD: An explainer. Retrieved from:
  16. U.S. Food and Drug Administration (2020, August 3). FDA Regulation of Cannabis and Cannabis-Derived Products, Including Cannabidiol (CBD). Retrieved from:
  17. Mayo Clinic. What are the benefits of CBD – and is it safe to use? Retrieved from:
  18. U.S. Food and Drug Administration (2020, August 3). op. cit.
  19. Bonn-Miller MO, Loflin MJE, Thomas BF, Marcu JP, Hyke T, Vandrey R. Labeling Accuracy of Cannabidiol Extracts Sold Online. JAMA. 2017;318(17):1708-1709. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.11909
  20. Wijesundara NM, Rupasinghe HPV. Herbal Tea for the Management of Pharyngitis: Inhibition of Streptococcus pyogenes Growth and Biofilm Formation by Herbal Infusions. Biomedicines. 2019;7(3):63. Published 2019 Aug 24. doi:10.3390/biomedicines7030063
  21. Schapowal A, Berger D, Klein P, Suter A. Echinacea/sage or chlorhexidine/lidocaine for treating acute sore throats: a randomized double-blind trial. Eur J Med Res. 2009;14(9):406-412. doi:10.1186/2047-783x-14-9-406
  22. Sfeir J, Lefrançois C, Baudoux D, Derbré S, Licznar P. In Vitro Antibacterial Activity of Essential Oils against Streptococcus pyogenes. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2013;2013:269161. doi:10.1155/2013/269161
  23. Wijesundara NM, Sekhon-Loodu S, Rupasinghe HV. op. cit.
  24. Atalay S, Jarocka-Karpowicz I, Skrzydlewska E. Antioxidative and Anti-Inflammatory Properties of Cannabidiol. Antioxidants (Basel). 2019;9(1):21. Published 2019 Dec 25. doi:10.3390/antiox9010021
  25. Russo EB. Taming THC: potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effects. Br J Pharmacol. 2011;163(7):1344-1364. doi:10.1111/j.1476-5381.2011.01238.x
  26. Shannon S, Lewis N, Lee H, Hughes S. Cannabidiol in Anxiety and Sleep: A Large Case Series. Perm J. 2019;23:18-041. doi:10.7812/TPP/18-041
  27. Iffland K, Grotenhermen F. An Update on Safety and Side Effects of Cannabidiol: A Review of Clinical Data and Relevant Animal Studies. Cannabis Cannabinoid Res. 2017;2(1):139-154. Published 2017 Jun 1. doi:10.1089/can.2016.0034
  28. Chand HS, Muthumalage T, Maziak W, Rahman I. Pulmonary Toxicity and the Pathophysiology of Electronic Cigarette, or Vaping Product, Use Associated Lung Injury. Front Pharmacol. 2020;10:1619. Published 2020 Jan 14. doi:10.3389/fphar.2019.01619
  29. May Clinic. Sore throat. Retrieved from:
  30. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sore Throat. Retrieved from:
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