Covid-19, or Coronavirus has created a massive concern globally. Everybody wants to try all odds possible to increase the odds of staying safe and healthy. Marijuana users need to know certain basic guidelines to follow in this pandemic time to still experience the benefits of Cannabis without putting themselves at risk.
As of now, we all need to practice social distancing and washing our hands appropriately. However, there is also a need to change some of our regular habits. Is it safe to smoke cannabis during the pandemic? Different experts in the medical and scientific community have offered suggestions about what needs to be done in the present day scenario.
Is there any harm in Smoking Marijuana?
An infectious disease epidemiologist, Dr. Steffanie Strathdee has spent a lot of time in her entire career in helping people with addictions. Though she is not an expert in pulmonary medicine or cannabis, she believes smoking is not safe in the present scenario.
The SARS-CoV-2 virus (actual name of Coronavirus) attacks lung cells in the lower tract of our respiratory system. “In my view, it is better to be safe than sorry. So I’d advise anyone using marijuana to switch to edibles if they have any underlying health conditions like immune deficiencies, heart and respiratory problems,” Dr. Strathdee shared.
The major concern with Covid-19 is the damage caused to cilia which is a group of cells in the respiratory tract and the lungs that contribute to keeping airways free from irritants, mucus, and dirt.
The condition is mild in younger people. However, you still stand a chance to complicate your condition if you smoke cannabis.
Your cilia will be burned if you get infected with Covid-19. Lungs with damaged cilia cannot move bacterial, mucus and viral particles up out of their lungs. Hence, it is quite clear as to why there are severe respiratory problems due to Coronavirus.
Protecting Cilia in your Lungs has to be the Priority
A pulmonary critical care physician, Dr. Laura Crotty Alexander has studied e-cigarettes and their effects extensively for years. She started using clinical, translational and basic research to study the impact of cannabis products on immune function and on the lungs. Most of the people using nicotine vaporizers also smoke cannabis.
When questioned about the effect of cannabis smoking on Cilia, Dr. Crotty replied that several studies have established that smoking cannabis can significantly damage airway epithelium, causes loss of ciliated epithelial cells and increases the rate of mucus production.
She further added that if cilium is not functional or absent, the mucus will pool in the airways. This will further give a chance to SARS-CoV-2 to result in an infection in pulmonary epithelial cells.
When questioned if cannabis smoke damages cilia in the same manner as tobacco smoke, Dr. Crotty replied that there isn’t any substantial data to support the fact. However, she stressed that it can increase the vulnerability to the pathogen SARS-CoV-2.
As Covid-19 is still a novel pathogen, there isn’t much data available. However, inhaling cannabis smoke is generally a risky factor in case of an infection. Marijuana smoking is linked to increased sputum production, cough, shortness of breath and wheezing. These are primary signs that the lungs and the airways are irritated by marijuana smoke.
Give Your Lungs a Break
When asked if cannabis users should avoid vaping or not, Dr. Crotty replied that it would be wise to keep the lungs in the best condition possible. There is a high possibility of developing Covid-19 if care is not exercised.
People aged 60 and above are at high risk. Also, those who have any underlying heart disease, diabetes, and lung disease should watch over their health. Treating the lungs with kindness is the only way to stay safe during the Coronavirus pandemic.
It is crucial to give a break to the lungs during the current pandemic. Inhalation of the particulate matter whether due to pollution, stove burning, coal burning, marijuana or cigarettes has always resulted in diminished functioning of lungs.
This also increases the susceptibility to infection of lungs. During these unprecedented times, it is essential to change the habits to limit the spread of this virus.
There are plenty of alternatives available such as topicals, patches, tinctures, and edibles. You can include cannabis in your life in a way it doesn’t increase any complications or irritates the lungs. For those without easy access to edibles can experiment with topicals, tinctures, cooking oil and cannabutter.