Clinical Studies Suggest CBD May Help With Respiratory Infections

by | Jun 12, 2023 | Latest News | 0 comments

During the first global pandemic in over two hundred years, the world was reminded how serious respiratory infections could become. Sometimes we may think that a cold is just a cold, but some types of respiratory infections can become life-threatening.

The COVID-19 health emergency encouraged everyone to think carefully about their health and resistance to respiratory infections. And look for new ways that we can build the best immune system defenses against bacterial and viral infections.

Some studies have suggested that cannabidiol or CBD may help improve resistance to respiratory infections. More research is needed, and there is no conclusive evidence that CBD can improve immunity. But the studies hint that cannabinoids may boost our immune defenses and can help improve respiratory health.

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What Are the Most Common Respiratory Infections?

Sometimes it can feel like all chest and respiratory infections are the same. That is because, for the most part, symptoms are very similar, regardless of what kind of infection you have.

However, there are many different types and causes of respiratory infections, including the following most common varieties:

The Common Cold

Who doesn’t love the cold season? All of us! Sure enough, when summer turns to Fall, you can count on developing at least one cold during the winter months. Viral infections, including coronaviruses and adenoviruses, usually cause the common cold.

The common cold is highly contagious and spreads easily from one person to the next, either through direct contact or touching infected surfaces. Cold viruses target the cells in the nose and throat, and the immune system response triggers inflammation, developing symptoms of cough, sore throat, sneezing, and nasal congestion.

Why do we always seem to get colds? Clinical studies have found that viruses causing the common cold are recurrent because our bodies may not develop long-lasting immunity to them. And there are more than two hundred (200) common cold viruses.

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Influenza or Flu

The common flu is caused by multiple influenza viruses that belong to the Orthomyxoviridae family. Influenza is classified into four types: A, B, C, and D, but seasonal flu outbreaks are primarily caused by influenza types A and B.

Like the common cold, influenza is highly contagious and spreads quickly through respiratory droplets in coughs, sneezes, and when someone talks. When a healthy person inhales the droplets, influenza proceeds to cause a respiratory infection.

Have you ever wondered why there are new flu vaccines every year? That is because influenza viruses change their surface proteins constantly. Both hemagglutinin (H) and neuraminidase (N) proteins enable viral replication, which continually causes new subtypes of influenza, which is why annual flu vaccines are recommended.

An interesting fact about influenza is that the viruses can infect both humans and animals. Many strains can cross the species barrier. And sometimes, that can also lead to antigenic shifts, which can create new strains of influenza that humans may not have immunity to.

Respiratory Infection


One of the most serious and life-threatening respiratory illnesses, pneumonia, can be caused by a variety of different microorganisms. Infection can occur from bacteria—fungi, viruses, and sometimes (although rarely) parasites.

The pneumonia diagnosis indicates the type of infection or the root cause of the respiratory inflammation. Some of the most common causes of pneumonia include:

Bacterial Pneumonia

  • Streptococcus
  • Haemophilus
  • Staphylococcus
  • Legionella
  • Mycoplasma
  • Klebsiella

Viral Pneumonia

  • Influenza
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)
  • Adenovirus
  • Human Metapneumovirus

Fungal Pneumonia

  • Candida
  • Aspergillus
  • Pneumocystis Jirovecii

Aspiration Pneumonia

This type of pneumonia occurs when a foreign substance is inhaled into the lungs and causes inflammation and difficulty with respiration. Common substances include food, vomit, saliva, or beverages, combined with bacteria that occur naturally in the mouth and throat.

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Hospital Acquired Pneumonia

Individuals who are admitted and hospitalized or residing in long-term care (LTC) facilities may contract hospital-acquired pneumonia. Contagion between patients in close quarters and exposure from healthcare professionals treating many patients increases risk of developing this type of pneumonia.

It is possible to have more than one type of pneumonia at the same time, such as bacterial and then viral infection. Other factors that can increase your risk of developing pneumonia include age, weak immune system functioning, chronic lung diseases, and smoking or vaping.


Inside your lungs are a network of tubes that carry and disperse oxygen throughout your lungs. Those are called bronchial tubes, and when they become infected and inflamed, they can cause some uncomfortable symptoms, including raspiness, labored breathing, fatigue, and other problems. Bronchitis symptoms include coughing, with some phlegm, but typically the cough can be non-productive, even with the use of over-the-counter expectorants.

There are two types of bronchitis you can be diagnosed with:

Acute Bronchitis

This type is commonly caused by viral infections like the cold or flu, but acute bronchitis is most commonly affected by contracting a cold (rhinovirus). Sometimes acute bronchitis can be caused by a bacterial infection, but it is very rare.

Chronic Bronchitis

If you have a persistent cough and lung congestion that lasts for a period of three months, you may be diagnosed with chronic bronchitis. Cigarette smoking or long-term exposure to second-hand smoke, air pollution, chemical fumes, dust, and other respiratory irritants can cause chronic bronchitis.

In both acute and chronic bronchitis, the inflammation of the bronchial tubes leads to increased production of mucus, narrowing of the airways, and coughing. Long-term chronic bronchitis can also increase heart rate and hypertension, which may lead to other health concerns.

Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)

This virus belongs to the paramyxoviridae family (orthopneumovirus) and is the leading cause of respiratory tract infections. Adolescents are more likely to contract RSV than adults, and it is the leading cause of respiratory infections in infants.

Person-to-person transmission and seasonal outbreaks of RSV are common. It is highly contagious, particularly in crowded environments. It can also be contracted by touching surfaces infected with the virus and may live on a non-porous surface for many hours.

The respiratory syncytial virus can cause many different types of respiratory illnesses, with symptoms ranging from mild cold to severe respiratory tract infections. In some cases, patients must be hospitalized for moderate to severe symptoms.

CBD for Respiratory Health


While the precursor to this virus (SARS-CoV-1) was identified in 2003, COVID-19 first emerged in China in December 2019. The rapid spread of the first global pandemic taught us many new things about the dangers of respiratory viruses.

Belonging to the coronavirus family, the origin of sars cov two infection was zoonotic, which means it passed from animals to humans. While researchers are not sure how or when the cross-species transmission occurred, COVID-19 is believed to have originated in bats.

This virus is highly contagious and spreads through respiratory droplets. When someone who is infected talks, coughs, sneezes, or inhales, they have an increased risk of infection and transmission. One of the difficulties with sars cov 2 infection is that it remains infectious even before the host is symptomatic (pre-symptomatic transmission).

The symptoms of COVID-19 are consistent with a respiratory infection and, in some cases, progression to severe and life-threatening pneumonia-like symptoms. During the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers began to investigate whether cannabidiol (CBD) would help reduce inflammation in patients who contracted the virus—particularly those who developed acute respiratory distress syndrome.

What Are Chronic Respiratory Conditions?

Chronic respiratory conditions or diseases are long-term illnesses that can worsen over time and may be incurable. They affect breathing, cause congestion and inflammation in the lungs and airways, and can cause symptoms of fatigue as cells are not well oxygenated when breathing is obstructed.

The most common chronic respiratory conditions include:

  • Asthma
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
  • Emphysema
  • Chronic Bronchitis
  • Cystic Fibrosis (CF)
  • Pulmonary Hypertension
  • Interstitial Lung Disease (ILD)

While chronic respiratory conditions may not be curable, there are many therapies that patients can explore which can help with symptom management.

These are just a few examples of chronic respiratory conditions. It’s important to note that proper diagnosis and management by healthcare professionals are crucial for individuals with chronic respiratory diseases to control symptoms, prevent exacerbations, and maintain a better quality of life.

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How Can CBD Help Improve Resistance to Respiratory Diseases?

Because cannabidiol impacts each cannabinoid receptor, it may help to reduce inflammation. Whenever there is a viral or bacterial infection, the body’s immune defense triggers inflammation to help block viral protein processing. In other words, your body creates inflammation to “kill off” viruses and bacteria.

According to researchers, cannabidiol (CBD) may help people with respiratory infections in a few important ways:

How CBD Inhibits Viral Replication

Some studies suggest that CBD blocks viral replication. In clinical trials, some researchers have suggested that cannabidiol can suppress viral infection by obstructing viral protein translation. In other words, cannabidiol may impair the virus’ ability to replicate in the human body. Or at least slow down the rate that the virus can reproduce and spread inside an infected patient.

CBD Suppresses Cytokine Production

Cytokines are proteins that help regulate inflammation and immune system responses. Messengers or signaling molecules tell the immune system how to respond to infections. However, too many cytokines can increase inflammation and may contribute to developing autoimmune diseases and disorders.

Preclinical animal studies have suggested that CBD can reduce the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines, including TNF-alpha, IL-1β, and IL-6. Cannabidiol can reduce the number of inflammatory signals sent to immune cells. Cannabidiol may also help increase anti-inflammatory cytokines like IL-10, which can help balance immune system functioning.

Can CBD Help With Symptoms of Respiratory Infections?

If you have symptoms of a respiratory infection, you need to seek medical care and the advice of a practitioner. Respiratory infections can become life-threatening depending on your health and other underlying medical conditions. Always seek the guidance of a physician when you first experience symptoms.

However, given that respiratory infections are rooted in inflammation talk to your doctor about taking a cannabidiol (CBD) supplement. In conjunction with prescription medications and other therapies, cannabidiol may help. And it may also reduce inflammation in lung epithelial cells, and other human cells, which could help your body combat infection.

Clinical trials to date are not conclusive regarding cannabidiol and respiratory infections. We know that CBD may help prevent viral protein translation (or the replication of a respiratory virus in your body). Researchers are unsure how CBD may inhibit viral spike protein or how it works with the interferon signaling pathway.

When considering CBD treatment, always consult your physician first to determine if it is a safe treatment option. But many studies have also indicated that smokable CBD should be the final product on your list when considering a CBD supplement for respiratory infections. Opt for other routes, such as edibles, tinctures, or CBD capsules.

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