It’s never too early or late in the season to think about ways to combat the ill effects of the cold or flu. Opportunistic viruses can wreak havoc on productivity and immune systems. A litany of complaints such as a runny nose, cough, sneezing, and the most dreaded symptom of all – the fever – can accompany these conditions.
It’s easy to think that the battle against a fever can only be won with high doses of an over-the-counter remedy. However, for many individuals, the typical use of over-the-counter medications may come with harmful additives and substances or may not always alleviate symptoms. For those who prefer an alternative, there may be a solution. Cannabidiol, also known as CBD, has been cited as a natural way to find relief.
Preliminary studies have concluded that CBD may act as an anti-inflammatory, a key action in the mitigation of fevers. In fact, fevers are defined as a physiological condition wherein the body experiences inflammation and as a consequence, a rise in temperature. CBD may function as a more sustainable way to help individuals efficiently work through a fever.
What is a Fever?
A fever is also known as hyperthermia. This is often defined as a spike in temperature over a prolonged period. This can happen for any number of reasons, including an infection. The human body strives to keep a stable temperature of about 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit or 37 degrees Celsius. This may vary a degree or so depending on the environment or activity.
Temperature in the human body is regulated by a structure in the brain known as the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus regulates temperature by sending out signals that the body’s temperature needs to be reset. The hypothalamus is triggered by chemicals in the body known as pyrogens.
Pyrogens are often produced by certain classes of pathogens and prompt the hypothalamus to act. Similar to a home heating system, the hypothalamus is able to decipher an optimal temperature and can change that depending on factors occurring within the body.
The fever has evolved as a necessary biological function. In cases of infection, the higher temperature may thwart further production of bacteria and microbes in the body. Fevers are mostly a good part of our immune system response, even though they may make most people feel pretty bad and unable to get out of bed.
However, there are cases in which a fever can go well above a safe threshold and cause more problems. This can be troubling to medical professionals, as a really high fever can cause complications including seizures, delirium, and infarction.
Cannabis and the Cold/Flu Cycle
Researchers suggest that working through a cold or flu may be the most effective way to recover. Marijuana can ease many of the symptoms that comprise a cold or flu cycle, including fever. This makes it easier for an individual to gradually work through the initial stages of infection and can impact future and overall health.
Health experts suggest that the best way to get through a cold or flu is to let it run its course. That can be easier said than done when faced with a rising fever, cough, stuffy nose and other symptoms. However, medical professionals agree that finding a bit of relief during this time will aid the body in harvesting important immune responses for the future.
Fever and Over-The-Counter Remedies
When a person has a fever, the most common treatment for relief is an over-the-counter medication. Medications for fever can include Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDS) such as ibuprofen and aspirin, and also acetaminophen. Both types of medications work to relieve inflammation, a key feature in fevers.
However, each type of medication comes with serious side effects. NSAIDs, for example, can often cause adverse side effects that range from mild to severe, including:
- Heartburn and back pain
- Ulcers of the stomach
- Risk of increased bleeding (a concern to doctors before surgery)
- Allergic responses, including rashes and swelling of the throat
- Kidney problems
- High blood pressure
- Swelling of the leg
A major concern of acetaminophen use has been its long-term effect on the liver. If a person takes too much, it can cause irreversible damage. Signs of liver failure are not always readily apparent, and individuals may easily mistake liver dysfunction for other conditions, resulting in delayed treatment. In some cases, acetaminophen attributed liver failure has even led to death.
CBD and Fever Prevention
There may be evidence that CBD can reduce fever in an important way: By preventing it in the first place. CBD has been indicated in an increase in immune system activity, which is important in staving off infections that are responsible for fevers. Some initial studies show that cannabis can help the body develop more white blood cells.
White blood cells, known as macrophages or phagocytes, and are largely responsible for the creation of mass movements against foreign bodies, including viruses, bacteria, and other parasites. Our white blood cells function as the first line of defense against many of the agents that can cause a fever. They eliminate invaders by engulfing them through a process known as phagocytosis.
After engulfing them, the white blood cells are able to get rid of them for good. CBD may be also helpful in getting the body to activate another type of white blood cell that can fight infections – B-cells.
B-cells can create certain types of protein markers that identify pathogens as foreign so that the immune system is aware that they are not a part of the body and destroys them. They function as the body’s alert system, sniping out foreign particulates and warning other parts of the immune system to be on the lookout.
There may be further implications for help in stopping a fever in its tracks in the future as well. When T-cells and other white blood cells beat back an infection, the body will remember the pathogen for the future. A number of cells responsible for eliminating an infection will hang around in the blood, looking for any of the invaders that fit the chemical description.
This confers immunity, a process that sensitizes elements of the body’s immune system in future defense against particular foreign particles. The great thing about this process is that it has the advantage of letting the body create a sort of “memory” against an infectious agent.
A biochemical memory can assist white blood cells by helping them more easily identify a virus, bacteria or microbe the moment it enters the body. As the body “remembers” this pathogen, it will more effectively eliminate it. This helps the body maintain order and effective homeostasis. Therefore, cannabis may help to keep you from developing uncomfortable and possible dangerous systems of the infection, including a high fever.
Cannabis and Fever Reduction
Cannabis has been indicated in reducing fever in two essential ways. It works by possibly activating receptors and neurotransmitters in the body that work along with the hypothalamus in temperature regulation. In cases where temperatures in the body have spiked, it may influence the hypothalamus to initiate a cool down, thus reducing fever.
CBD may also reduce inflammatory responses in the body that lead to fever by lowering the manufacture of a chemical called cytokines. Cytokines are produced by white blood cells and promote inflammatory reactions in the body. Reducing cytokines can inhibit fever symptoms and also deactivate receptors that allow for pain perception.
Using CBD During a Fever
Cannabis doesn’t always have to be smoked, and during a fever following a cold or infection, individuals may not be inclined to get their CBD using this method. It may cause further irritation and discomfort. However, CBD can be taken in a variety of ways. It can be taken in a hot tea, and there are an array of cannabis-infused teas that cater to those seeking relief. It can also be taken sublingually using CBD oil.
Another method individuals can use is the steam method. With the steam method, an infusion of CBD can be used to fight other symptoms that come along with a high fever, including a stuffy nose. A few drops of cannabis oil can be put into a steamer or used in a very hot, nearly boiling bowl of water; the resulting steam can be inhaled, allowing for the CBD to be introduced into the body.
Final Thoughts on CBD and Fever Reduction
CBD may be an effective alternative to over-the-counter medications, especially when taking into account potential side effects. As it is important for individuals to get through an active fever, reducing temperature can decrease discomfort. It may achieve this by naturally reducing inflammatory responses.
This may be important in aiding in the process of infection, including encouraging rest and easing pain. There are many ways to take CBD, and persons can explore a method that works best for them during this time. However, some initial studies show that CBD may be able to prevent infection by boosting the immune system and altogether stop the discomfort and pain of a fever.