• The cough reflex clears the throat and airways(1). Allergies are one of the reasons for coughing. Using the Cannabis sativa plant extract and cannabinoids, researchers have shown that these chemicals may inhibit allergic and non-allergic reactions(2).
  • According to the study, cannabidiol (CBD) and cannabigerol (CBG) have anti-inflammatory capabilities when synthesized appropriately(3). The results suggest that these nonpsychoactive cannabinoids may help combat diseases characterized by airway inflammation.
  • Concerns about the toxicity and undesirable effects of cannabis extracts may be alleviated by employing nonpsychotropic cannabinoids(4). Based on these results, nonpsychoactive CBD may be a viable option for cough-inducing bacterial illnesses.

Benefits of CBD for Cough

Coughing is a reflex that clears the throat and airways(5). Coughing can be irritating, yet it aids in the body’s recovery or defense. Coughs may be acute or chronic. Acute coughs often begin abruptly and continue for no longer than two to three weeks. 

The common causes of acute coughs include the common cold, influenza, and acute bronchitis. Chronic coughs persist for more than two to three weeks. Causes of chronic cough include(6):

  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Asthma
  • Allergies
  • COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
  • GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease)
  • Smoking
  • Throat disorders
  • Some medicines

Studies using the Cannabis sativa plant extract and cannabinoids have shown that these substances may suppress allergic and non-allergic properties(7)

This research has established that cannabidiol (CBD) and cannabigerol (CBG), when properly synthesized, have anti-inflammatory properties. The findings hypothesize that these nonpsychoactive cannabinoids may have health benefits in managing illnesses marked by airway inflammation.

Due to their extensive biological effects, cannabinoids and their effects on the mammalian endocannabinoid system (ECS) have drawn much study attention(8). The considerable immune-modulatory effect of cannabinoids has indicated their therapeutic potential in numerous inflammatory medical conditions.

The airways are susceptible to irritants and stimulants in the environment(9). Inflammation is critical in most respiratory disorders(10)

To effectively manage airway illnesses, reducing inflammation and inducing bronchodilation are the two most important treatments(11)

The potential of cannabinoids to produce bronchodilation and modulate inflammation suggests their relevance to airway physiology and diseases.

Cannabidiol is one of the essential phytocannabinoids in cannabis plants that may have therapeutic effects(12). CBD does not cause a “high,” but it does have some good pharmacological effects, like reducing inflammation and protecting cells from damage.

A lot has been learned about the pharmacology of CBD and the different molecular targets it interacts with, such as cannabinoid receptors and other parts of the endocannabinoid system.

The Role of the Endocannabinoid System in Respiratory Disorders

Neuromodulation, modulating motor activities, cognition, emotional reactions, homeostasis, and motivation are the primary pharmacological functions of the endocannabinoid system(13). However, this system is an essential regulator of the periphery’s autonomic nervous system, immune system, and microcirculation.

The prevalence of respiratory disorders and their repercussions are rising worldwide. Therefore, novel treatment and preventative techniques must be studied(14).

Cannabinoids are a class of chemicals that may be examined to manage respiratory illnesses(15). There are three categories of cannabinoids: phytocannabinoids, which originate from plants, synthetic cannabinoids, and endogenous endocannabinoids, as well as the enzymes responsible for their production and breakdown.

All cannabinoids exert their biological effects by binding to cannabinoid receptors, which are either type 1 (CB1) or type 2 (CB2). 

Cannabinoids and inhibitors of endocannabinoid breakdown have shown anti-inflammatory properties(16).

Most clinical research has focused on the beneficial qualities of cannabinoids and inhibitors of endocannabinoid breakdown, despite their presence in the respiratory system. Few scientific studies examine the detrimental effects of these substances.

Despite the positive benefits, many cannabinoids (such as delta-9-THC) cannot be regarded as possible medications owing to their psychoactive qualities. 

Further animal and human models are required to characterize the potential of cannabinoids and inhibitors of endocannabinoid breakdown in respiratory disorders.

CBD for Bacterial Infections

Getting a cough is not easy in the early stages of a viral or bacterial infection and is caused by different factors, such as a common cold and a runny nose(17). Usually, these symptoms disappear within a couple of days. However, a cough can last for up to four weeks for some individuals.

The resistance of microorganisms to traditional chemical antibiotics has prompted the quest for novel antimicrobial agents and methods(18). Numerous plant extracts and their purified constituents have shown antibacterial action against many diseases.

Cannabinoids and related compounds provide a variety of desirable pharmacological effects. The potential of cannabis extracts and compounds as antibacterial agents, for instance, is still in its earliest stages of investigation.

Studies in vitro have shown that cannabis extracts and essential oils possess antibacterial effects(19). The spectrum of activity of cannabis products has shown different findings, most likely owing to variation in the assayed extracts and the used microbiological test. 

The toxicity and adverse effects of the use of cannabis extracts (THC also known as tetrahydrocannabinol) could be eliminated by using nonpsychotropic cannabinoids, which have demonstrated a safety profile in animal models and potent antibacterial activity in vitro(20).

With these findings, CBD, which is a nonpsychoactive compound, may be a potential alternative in managing bacterial infections triggering a cough.

CBD for Fever

If cough symptoms worsen, individuals may have a bacterial infection. Indicators that individuals may be developing a bacterial infection include a temperature over 38 degrees Celsius and coughing up thick, discolored phlegm(21).

Cannabinoids may play a significant role in inhibiting the progression of a fever caused by a virus(22).

The study noted the effects of the CB receptor agonist aminoalkylindole on the production of fever in vitro(23). This receptor is the most commonly used experimental model for assessing the effects of drugs on the bacterial environment.

This study suggests that the presence of certain cannabinoids in the systemic bacterial environment can play a major role in the development of diseases such as fever.

What Is CBD Oil?

Raw CBD oil is produced without solvents or heat during the extraction process. Raw CBD oil is typically produced by CO2 extraction. Due to the fact that most of the original plant remains intact during and after the extraction process, the final product includes the whole spectrum of cannabinoids, including CBD and CBDA. In addition to cannabinoids, terpenes and pigments are also included in the final product.

Forms or Types of CBD Oil

CBD hemp oil is available in different forms of CBD products, such as vape juice, tincture, or lozenges.

Meanwhile, individuals may interchangeably use the phrase “CBD oil” for several items. However, CBD oil is not always accurate since many CBD oil products include several cannabinoids

The bulk of CBD oil available for medicinal and wellness uses is derived from hemp (versus medical marijuana).   

Here are the main types of CBD oil that consumers may encounter:

  • CBD isolate
  • Full-spectrum CBD oil
  • Broad-spectrum CBD oil

The only difference between broad-spectrum, full-spectrum, and CBD isolate products is the chemical constituent concentration of each.

Full-spectrum CBD comprises all cannabinoids and other cannabis plant components. Broad-spectrum CBD includes all cannabinoids and cannabis plant components except THC. Lastly, CBD isolate contains pure CBD and is often available in crystal or powder form.  

To elaborate further, here is a brief description of each CBD oil type: 

  • CBD Isolate

A CBD isolate is a pure CBD or CBD oil since it includes just cannabidiol and no additional cannabinoids, terpenes, or essential fatty acids from the cannabis plant. CBD businesses may offer isolates as a crystal or a powder, but some sell them as CBD oil.

CBD isolate is extracted using the same method as other CBD oils. The difference is that CBD is filtered out after cannabinoids are extracted. 

The water then undergoes a cooling procedure known as winterization, eliminating any other chemical components. CBD Isolate is often used for vaping, and whether in crystal or powder form, it is typically delivered sublingually. 

  • Full-spectrum CBD oil

Full-spectrum CBD oil contains CBD and all other naturally occurring cannabinoids (including THC), terpenes, and fatty acids. Full-spectrum CBD is sometimes referred to as a whole or whole plant extract.

The cannabis plant‘s terpenes, for instance, are known to possess anti-inflammatory qualities(24)

Other cannabinoids included in a whole-plant extract are believed to increase the overall efficacy of CBD.

In a full spectrum extract, the oil undergoes cannabinoid extraction and filtering. However, neither the cannabinoids nor any other chemicals are eliminated. 

Although full-spectrum CBD contains THC, it does not have enough THC to provide a high(25). However, it will likely be detected by a roadside mouth swab test.

  • Broad-spectrum CBD oil

Broad-spectrum CBD oil is a middle-ground between full-spectrum CBD oil and CBD isolate. It has all of the same chemical compounds, except for THC.

Thus, broad-spectrum CBD oil can provide some of the beneficial effects of an entourage effect.  The “entourage effect” refers to the suggested positive contribution terpenes provide to cannabinoids(26).

How to Administer CBD for Cough

Note that topical products address just the region where they are administered. Thus, CBD topical products are not a good choice for cough treatment. 

Meanwhile, here are some other ways to administer CBD for cough:

  • Sublingual: Users may prefer CBD oil tinctures if it does not irritate their throat. Individuals may use an eyedropper with the tincture, measuring out 1 to 2 drops for usage. Hold the drops under the tongue for 30 seconds before swallowing. 

If CBD is effective, individuals will likely experience CBD benefits within 15 to 30 minutes(27). There are tinctures that may also come in spray bottles. If the product is a spray, apply one spray to the inside portion of each cheek. Tinctures come in many flavors, so consumers may select one they prefer.

  • Ingestion: CBD pills may be a convenient option that may give a standard dosage. In addition, this CBD form will not irritate the throat or airways. Consumers may look for CBD pills or capsules from a pharmacy, dispensary, or online. 

Moreover, CBD edibles like gummies may have an onset time of between 30-90 minutes to take effect(28). Consumers may also look for CBD-infused chocolates and snacks at their local grocery store, pharmacy, dispensary, or online. 

  • Inhalation: Consumers may use a vape pen if they want to inhale CBD to alleviate a persistent cough. Users need to connect a CBD oil cartridge to the battery of a vape pen and then follow the battery’s instructions to use. However, users need to stop using the vape pen if the cough worsens.

A vape pen battery and CBD cartridge are available in dispensaries, smoke shops, and online. The battery serves as the vape pen‘s basis, while the cartridge contains the CBD oil.

Since there is no standard CBD dosage prescribed for cough, individuals may need to experiment with the CBD products to determine the optimal dosage. 

Disclaimer: Common cold symptoms include nasal congestion and sinus discomfort, sore throat, dry or chesty cough, and itchy, watery eyes. None of these symptoms are alleviated by any smoking. 

Even vaping may cause coughing(29). So, if CBD products may worsen the medical condition, consult a healthcare expert. 

Side Effects of CBD

Some of the side effects of CBD are nausea, fatigue, and irritability(30). The compound can also increase blood thinning and other drugs in the body by competing against them for the liver enzymes that break them down.

Individuals taking high levels of CBD may have abnormalities in their liver tests(31). It is why it is essential to inform the doctor about CBD use. Other drugs, such as Tylenol, can also have the same effect.

Meanwhile, Mayo Clinic cited CBD’s side effects, such as dry mouth, diarrhea, reduced appetite, and drowsiness(32)

Other interesting results given by WHO and obtained from a 2011 report include(33):

  • CBD affects tumor cells at a high dose but does not impact non tumor cells.
  • CBD has no impact on various physiological and biochemical parameters or substantial effects on animal behavior unless high doses are administered.
  • CBD may be connected with medication interactions. However, this is still unknown.

Safety Profile of CBD

In general, research has stated that CBD has a good safety profile in humans(34). Most of the studies were done to find ways to help people with epilepsy and psychotic disorders. 

Tiredness, diarrhea, and changes in appetite or weight were the most common side effects(35). CBD has fewer side effects than other medicines used to treat these chronic conditions. 

CBD is often added to other treatments. Due to this, there needs to be more clinical research on how CBD affects hepatic enzymes and drug transporters and how it interacts with other drugs. 

Does CBD Show in Drug Tests?

If individuals use CBD oil, they should not fail a drug test, as these tests check for THC and its metabolites(36). CBD oil that is legal has either minimal THC or none at all. 

However, consumers must only buy from a CBD seller who is regulated. Also, consumers should see if these sellers share lab results for their products, so the buyers can find out how much THC is in them.

Meanwhile, unlike other types of CBD oil, broad-spectrum cannabidiol (CBD) oil does not go through the same extraction process. 

CBD Legality

In December 2018, a change in the legislation elevated the significance of the United States Food and Drug Administration or FDA’s work on CBD issues(37). The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (commonly known as the 2018 Farm Bill) eliminated hemp from the Controlled Substances Act’s classification of marijuana. 

The legislation implies that medical cannabis and derivatives containing no more than 0.3% delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) by dry weight are no longer prohibited drugs under the Controlled Substances Act.

Although hemp meeting this criterion is no longer regulated under the CSA, FDA-regulated goods containing hemp must still comply with the relevant standards of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.

Epidiolex, a drug containing a highly purified form of CBD, has been authorized by the FDA for the treatment of seizures associated with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS), Dravet syndrome (DS), or tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) in patients one year of age and older(38)

The 2018 Farm Bill does not officially alter the FDA’s regulatory authority over cannabidiol (CBD) and other cannabis derivatives. These substances are no longer restricted drugs that have sparked greater commercial interest and availability(39).

What is a Cough?

According to the Cleveland Clinic, a cough is a normal reaction that removes irritants from the body’s upper and lower airways (throat and lungs). A cough aids in the healing and protection of the body(40).

Symptoms and Types of Cough 

There are a variety of coughs. Some coughs are referred to by their duration, while others are referred to by how they feel or sound, and others are actual conditions(41).

For coughs related to their duration, here are some common types:

  • The acute cough starts abruptly and lasts between two and three weeks.
  • A subacute cough persists for three to eight weeks after an illness.
  • A chronic cough exceeds eight weeks.
  • Refractory cough is a persistent cough that is resistant to therapy.

For cough types associated with mucus:

  • A productive cough, often known as a wet cough, produces mucus or phlegm.
  • A cough that is non-productive, or a dry cough, does not produce mucus or phlegm.

For types of coughs associated with coughing: 

  • Daytime coughing 
  • Nocturnal (nighttime) cough
  • Coughing and vomiting

Cough Prevention for Whooping Cough

Vaccination is the most effective strategy for infants, children, adolescents, pregnant women, and adults to avoid pertussis or whooping cough(42)

It is also best to isolate infants and those at high risk for pertussis complications from infected individuals.

Suppose a household member or individual has been diagnosed with pertussis. In that case, their doctor or health department may recommend that they take preventive antibiotics to help prevent the spread of the disease. Medical professionals may also recommend these to other individuals who came into contact with the infected person.

Individuals who have regular contact with individuals at high risk of experiencing severe illness, such as pregnant women, may also be advised to take antibiotics.

Likewise, infants under one year old are most at risk of suffering serious illness and complications from pertussis. 

Pregnant women are also at risk, specifically, women in their third trimester, since these women can also expose their babies to the disease. 

Suppose individuals plan on having contact with either a baby or a pregnant woman. In that case, they must speak with their doctor about taking antibiotics.

Cough Remedies

Individuals can also buy various cough and cold medicines at pharmacies. Although these products have little evidence of affecting the infection, they can help treat some symptoms(43). For instance, a nasal spray can help clear a blocked nose.

Meanwhile, the treatment of a cough will depend on its cause. If individuals have an infection, the doctor may recommend an antibiotic or antiviral medicine. However, the majority of viral coughs do not need antiviral treatment. 

Doctors may recommend dietary modifications for GERD or prescribe a proton pump inhibitor or H2 blocker.

Moreover, water may be beneficial for a cough. Water might help relieve a cough caused by throat discomfort or dryness. Adding water to the air using a vaporizer or taking a steamy shower are other methods of cough relief.

Another way to relieve cough is to quit smoking to avoid other irritants. These irritants include medications, odors (perfume or candles), smoke, and allergies.

In March 2009, the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency) stated the safety issues of over-the-counter cough and cold medicines(44).

Parents and caregivers are no longer advised to provide children under six over-the-counter (OTC) cough and cold medications(45). There is no proof that these drugs are effective. These medications may have adverse effects such as allergic responses, sleep disturbances, and hallucinations.

These drugs will continue to be accessible to children aged 6 to 12. However, they will only be offered in pharmacies with explicit instructions on the package and the pharmacist. 

The danger of adverse effects is lower in older children because they weigh more, get fewer colds, and can determine whether the medication is effective. The pharmaceutical industry is doing more studies on the efficacy of these drugs in children aged 6 to 12 years.

When to Call a Doctor

In general, individuals should contact a healthcare practitioner if individuals have a persistent cough and the following symptoms(46):

  • Wheezing 
  • Phlegm (thick mucus, also known as sputum), particularly yellow, green, or red phlegm
  • Fever over 101.5 degrees Fahrenheit or fever lasting longer than two days
  • Chills

Individuals should call 911 or visit an emergency hospital if they have a cough and if they experience the following issues:

  • Feeling of choking
  • Coughing of blood
  • Intense chest pain
  • Unable to breathe properly

  1. Cough
  2. The anti-inflammatory effects of cannabidiol and cannabigerol alone, and in combination
  3. Ibid.
  4. The antimicrobial effect behind Cannabis sativa
  5. Cough
  6. Ibid.
  7. The anti-inflammatory effects of cannabidiol and cannabigerol alone, and in combination
  8. Endocannabinoid System in the Airways
  9. Irritant Agent
  10. Inflammatory mechanisms in the lung
  11. The role of bronchodilator treatment in the prevention of exacerbations of COPD
  12. Antioxidative and Anti-Inflammatory Properties of Cannabidiol
  13. Endocannabinoids and immune regulation
  14. The potential of cannabinoids and inhibitors of endocannabinoid degradation in respiratory diseases
  15. Cannabinoids in health and disease
  16. Cannabinoids as novel anti-inflammatory drugs
  17. Cough Caused by a Virus
  18. The antimicrobial effect behind Cannabis sativa
  19. Ibid.
  20. Ibid.
  21. Cough Caused by a Virus
  22. A novel role of cannabinoids: implication in the fever induced by bacterial lipopolysaccharide
  23. Ibid.
  24. The Anti-Inflammatory Properties of Terpenoids from Cannabis
  25. 5 Reasons Why Full Spectrum CBD Is The Way To Go
  26. The “Entourage Effect”: Terpenes Coupled with Cannabinoids for the Treatment of Mood Disorders and Anxiety Disorders
  27. Healing with CBD, page 191
  28. Ibid.
  29. Another Gross Reason to Put Down the E-Cigarettes
  30. Cannabidiol (CBD)-what we know and what we don’t
  31. Ibid.
  32. What are the benefits of CBD — and is it safe to use?
  33. Can you take too much CBD?
  34. An Update on Safety and Side Effects of Cannabidiol: A Review of Clinical Data and Relevant Animal Studies
  35. Ibid.
  36. CBD Oil and Drug Testing
  37. Better Data for a Better Understanding of the Use and Safety Profile of Cannabidiol (CBD) Products
  38. Ibid.
  39. Ibid.
  40. Cough
  41. Ibid.
  42. Prevention
  43. Cough Caused by a Virus
  44. Ibid.
  45. Ibid.
  46. Cough
CBD Clinicals is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more