When you buy through links on our site, we may earn a commission. Advertising Disclosure

Cold Medicine and CBD Oil: Potential Side Effects and Benefits

If you’re dealing with a bad cold you may find yourself reaching for something in the medicine cabinet, but before you do, you may want to find out how CBD oil can help.

Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of 100+ cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant, and unlike the cannabinoid, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), it does not produce the mind-altering “high” associated with whole marijuana consumption.

CBD oil can, however, reduce inflammation and boost the immune system, making it an ideal supplement when you’re feeling under the weather.

If you want to combine CBD oil with your cold medication, or want to better understand how CBD oil can help relieve the symptoms of your cold, here’s what you need to know.

Interactions Between CBD and Cold Medicine

There are some cold medications that can react negatively with CBD oil.

The biggest risk comes from combining two compounds that share a comparable function. While the relaxing properties of CBD oil alone may be mild, when you add another product that produces a similar sedative effect, the results can be amplified to an undesirable degree.

Cough medicines in particular often contain ingredients that promote sleep. As CBD oil can also have a calming effect, the combined outcome can be sedation that’s stronger than you may have been prepared for. While this may not be an issue at night time, it is an important consideration if you are taking CBD oil and cold medicine during the day and during activities that require you to be awake and alert (e.g. while driving).

Additionally, CBD oil slows down the cytochrome P450 (CP450) system, which is made up of a collection of enzymes in the liver that process many different medications. The CP450 system breaks down certain compounds, including some ingredients found in common cold medicines, allowing the body to more easily clear them or make use of them. Since CBD oil slows this system, medications may remain in the body for longer periods, making side effects more likely.

With that in mind, there are a few ingredients found in cold medications you should look for if you’re also taking CBD oil. For your reference, here’s a table outlining the most common active ingredients in cold medicine and the potential outcome when taken with CBD oil.

Ingredient Possible interaction when combined with CBD oil
Pheniramine – Found in flu and combination cold medicines (e.g. Theraflu and Scot-Tussin products) May increase the risk of side effects and potential for drowsiness when used with CBD oil
Phenylephrine – Found in decongestants (e.g. Neo-Synephrine; Sudafed PE Congestion; Vazculep) Increased risk of high resting heart rate when used with CBD oil
Pseudoephedrine – Found in decongestants (e.g. Sudafed Congestion; SudoGest; Sudafed 12-Hour; Entex) Increases risk of serotonin syndrome when used with CBD oil
Naproxen – Found in anti-inflammatory medications (e.g. Aleve and Naprosyn) May make CBD oil less effective
Acetaminophen – Found in pain relievers (e.g. Tylenol) No known interactions
Chlorpheniramine – Found in a variety of antihistamines (allergy reducers) May increase the risk of side effects and potential for drowsiness when used with CBD oil
Doxylamine – Found in some anti-anxiety and sedation medications (e.g. SleepAid; Unisom Sleep Tabs; Equate Sleep Aid) May increase the drowsy or calming effects of CBD oil
Guaifenesin – Found in expectorants (e.g. Mucinex; Robitussin Chest Congestion; Robafen; Tussin) No known interactions

If you begin to notice unwanted effects after using CBD oil with any cold medication, do not continue with the combination and speak to your doctor.

CBD Oil for Treating Cold Symptoms

The next time you’re sick, before reaching for your cold medication, consider using CBD oil. Not only is CBD oil well-tolerated with a good safety profile, it can have positive effects on many of the most common cold symptoms. In addition, because of cannabidiol's antibacterial properties, CBD oil can keep a cold at bay by helping your immune system fight the intruder at the source.

CBD for Congestion

One of the most annoying cold symptoms is nasal congestion. While research is not yet conclusive, there is evidence to suggest that CBD oil may be useful in clearing blocked sinuses. By targeting inflammation, CBD can calm the membranes that line your nasal passages, decreasing congestion and opening up the airways.

CBD for Fevers

There are many reasons you might develop a fever when you’re sick. It may be caused by your body fighting a viral infection, like the common cold, or a sign of inflammation somewhere in the body. If the fever is brought on by a virus, early research has suggested that cannabinoids could play a role in stopping its progression.

Alternatively, if the fever is part of a larger inflammatory reaction, the use of CBD oil can trigger an anti-inflammatory response through its action on your body’s endocannabinoid system.

CBD for coughs and sneezes

Research has shown that CBD oil not only has anti-inflammatory properties, but also has muscle-relaxant qualities. This is particularly of interest if you’re suffering from a persistent cough, as CBD oil may reduce the inflamed airway and relax the muscles to reduce coughing.

CBD oil may also block histamines, the compounds responsible for inducing bouts of coughing and sneezing. While CBD oil hasn’t been proven to be as effective as the antihistamine ingredients in cold medication, it does offer the potential for a more natural treatment.

How to Safely Use CBD Oil and Cold Medicine Together

For starters, talk to your doctor. Although CBD oil is largely side effect-free and well-tolerated, there could be factors in your personal health history that warrant extra caution before using CBD.

Furthermore, if you wish to safely combine CBD oil and cold medication, avoid ingredients that may negatively interact (see the table in ‘Interactions Between CBD and Cold Medicine’ above). Also, keep in mind that any cold or flu medicines advertised as helping with sleep may have amplified effects when used with CBD oil.

It is suggested that you either take the combination before bed or spread their use over the day; for example take CBD oil in the morning and cold medicine at night. Alternatively, you can opt to combine non-drowsy cold medicine with your CBD oil. Just be aware of whether the medications contain any ingredients metabolized by the body’s cytochrome P-450 pathway to best avoid unpleasant side effects.

Safest CBD Oils to Take with Cold Medication

There is an incredible variety of CBD products available online and in-store, so how do you find the safest CBD oil?

Narrow down the options by first deciding the method you’d like to use to take your CBD oil. If you are suffering from a cold, it’s likely that your respiratory system isn’t operating at full capacity. For that reason, it’s best to ingest the CBD instead of inhaling it (i.e. via CBD vape or flower). Using CBD oil drops, tinctures, edibles, or capsules will cause the least disruption to your body as it is trying to heal.

When you’ve made the decision on how you’ll be taking your CBD oil, ensure you choose the safest product by doing your research into quality CBD brands.

The best companies use sustainably sourced hemp which has been organically grown without the use of herbicides, pesticides, or chemical additives. For peace of mind, check the product’s Certificate of Analysis (COA), which will show whether the CBD product contains any heavy metals or toxins. The COA will also indicate how much CBD and THC is in the product, amongst other cannabinoids and terpenes, so you’ll know if the dosage is accurate. Ideally, the COA should be published by a third-party laboratory, ensuring it is not subject to bias.

Remember, when it comes to your health, it’s worth taking the time to find the best quality CBD products.

Health Conditions

CBD in Illinois: What You Need to Know

CBD in Illinois: What You Need to Know

CBD oil has many helpful-- not to mention, natural-- benefits physically and mentally. CBD has been heavily studied to relieve ...
Learn More
CBD for Runners

CBD for Runners

If you are an avid runner, you are always looking for safe and healthy ways to improve your performance and ...
Learn More
Crohn’s Disease and CBD Oil: Current Research and Benefits

Crohn’s Disease and CBD Oil: Current Research and Benefits

For an estimated 780,000 people in the U.S., Crohn’s disease is a daily reality, impacting sufferers’ ability to live a ...
Learn More
Woman creating a shape of a heart with her hands in front of her bare tummy

Gut Health and CBD Oil: A Complete Guide

At some point during your education, you were taught that your heart pumps blood, your lungs circulate oxygen, and your ...
Learn More
Shirtless man painfully clutching on the right side of his abdomen

Liver Disease & CBD Oil: Risks, Benefits, & Research

The seriousness and prevalence of liver disease, particularly in the western world, is real, and underrepresented. It is difficult to ...
Learn More
Illustration shows the human central nervous system, & nerve cells' interaction w/ muscles

ALS & CBD Oil: Promising Research on Cannabinoids & Buying Tips

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease, is a neurodegenerative disease with no known cause and ...
Learn More
Graphic illustration of a seemingly unhealthy brain slowly disintegrating

Neurodegeneration & CBD Oil: Can It Rebuild & Reverse the Damage?

Neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease are terrifying and relatively common conditions. While more research is ...
Learn More
Graphical illustration of a pair of kidneys; the left being pockmarked with cysts

Kidney Disease & CBD Oil: Research on Symptoms & Possible Benefits

Kidney disease is a common but complicated illness. According to the National Kidney Foundation, nearly 37 million Americans have kidney ...
Learn More
Pictured here is a metabolic syndrome medical infographic

Metabolic Syndrome & CBD Oil: Addressing Multiple Conditions

Metabolic syndrome covers a range of health conditions that all pose cardiovascular complications, that are all interlinked, and that together ...
Learn More

6 Smart Questions to Ask BEFORE You Buy CBD

Get the Ultimate CBD Buyer’s Guide and you won’t look at CBD the same way again!