Hi. I recently recovered from Covid-19. It was pretty scary, and I don’t know if having it leads to permanent lung damage. I’m in my early 20s. I was smoking marijuana before, but should I maybe switch to edibles to be safe? — Janice P.
Great question. There have been concerns around COVID and whether or not inhaling cannabis puts one at greater risk of infection or possible lung damage.
Here are some of the issues that have been raised with smoking cannabis and COVID:
- Cannabis smoke causes inflammation.
- Confounding variables can confuse diagnosis.
- Patients with a history of lung disease and asthma are at risk of developing severe COVID symptoms.
- Cannabis can cause impairment making it more difficult to provide informed consent if you become sick.
Additionally, some people have questioned whether the higher numbers of younger people contracting COVID is somehow related to vaping and cannabis use.
A few health experts speculated that vaping could spread the virus to other through vape clouds. Fortunately, Professor Neil Benowitz at UCSF declared that “It is my understanding that exhaled e-cigarette vapor consists of very small particles of water, propylene glycol and glycerin, and flavor chemicals, not droplets of saliva.
The vaping aerosol evaporates very quickly, while particles that are emitted when coughing or sneezing are large particles that persist in the air for a relatively long period of time. Thus, I would not think that vapers present any risk of spreading COVID-19, unless they are coughing when they exhale the vapor.”
It is less understood at this time how COVID will affect lung health after one has recovered from the virus. Inhalation of cannabis has been associated with airway inflammation and bronchitis in chronic users. And inhalation of anything is an irritant and can cause one to cough, thereby irritating the lungs even more. If you are concerned about the long-term health of your lungs, it is best to choose another route of administration.
Edibles and/or tinctures can provide relief without the risk associated with inhalation. Many people who have only used cannabis through inhalation are not aware of the stronger effects associated with ingesting cannabis. It is important to start low and slow with an edible and/or tincture. Do not repeat a dose for at least two hours so you can determine if the dose was effective or not. As always, if you are looking to treat a serious or chronic illness, please work with a qualified cannabis healthcare professional who can help you determine the right dose and the right cannabinoid profile.
Written by Eloise Theisen | Nurse Practitioner, Founder of Radicle Health
Eloise Theisen, AGPCNP-BC, is a dedicated and patient-focused nurse. For over 17 years, she has specialized in aging, cancer, chronic pain, dementia, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, anxiety, depression, fibromyalgia, and various autoimmune and neurological diseases. The founder of Radicle Health, she started her career at John Muir Medical Center caring for patients suffering from cancer, terminal illnesses, respiratory failure/complaints, drug overdoses, acute alcohol ingestion, gastrointestinal bleeds, traumatic brain injury, and multiple traumas.
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