Can You Smoke Weed with Mono? 

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Written by Casandra Jones on 01/26/2024.
Data Last Updated: 07/22/2024.

Medically reviewed by Dr. Aaron Lee Wiegmann Author avatar Medically reviewed by Dr. Aaron Lee Wiegmann Dr. Wiegmann is a plastic and reconstructive surgeon in Chicago. Although he specializes in aesthetic surgery and reconstruction of the face, breast, and body, his medical knowledge is vast. He is passionate about medical research on the health benefits of any naturally occurring substance,...

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Mono, also known as mononucleosis, is a viral infection often called the “kissing disease.” It is typically caused by the Epstein-Barr virus and leads to symptoms like fever, fatigue, swollen lymph nodes and sore throat. If you have mono, you may be wondering whether activities like smoking weed are safe or could help relieve your symptoms. However, the short answer is no – smoking marijuana is not recommended if you have mono, due to increased risks such as weakened immunity, respiratory issues, and medication interactions. While anecdotal benefits are reported for some symptoms, alternatives like rest and hydration should take priority during recovery.

Understanding Mono and its Impact on the Body

Understanding Mono and its Impact on the Body

Before diving into the topic, it’s essential to understand how mono affects the body and its implications. Mono weakens the immune system, making your body more susceptible to other infections and illnesses. It puts added stress on your liver and increases the risk of complications like hepatitis. Therefore, it is crucial to support your immune system and avoid activities that could further strain your body.

Symptoms of Mononucleosis 

The common symptoms of mononucleosis infection include:

  • Fever and chills
  • Sore throat
  • Swollen lymph nodes in neck and armpits
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Muscle aches
  • Headaches
  • Loss of appetite.

The acute illness usually lasts 1-2 months but fatigue can persist for 2-3 months afterwards.

Weed and its Potential Effects on Mono

Weed and its Potential Effects on Mono

While there is limited scientific research specifically exploring the effects of smoking weed with mono, we can draw some conclusions based on existing knowledge about smoking and its impact on the immune system.

1. Suppression of the Immune System

It is well-documented that smoking weed, particularly in large amounts or over a long period, can suppress the immune system. The cannabinoids present in marijuana, such as delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), can modulate immune responses. A study published in the journal “J Neuroimmune Pharmacol” found that THC significantly suppressed the activity of T-cells, a type of immune cell crucial for the body’s defense against infections. [1] This immune-suppressive effect could potentially hinder your body’s ability to fight off infections, including the Epstein-Barr virus that causes mono.

2. Respiratory Irritation

Smoking weed involves inhaling the smoke produced from burning the plant material. This smoke contains various chemicals and irritants that can irritate the respiratory system, including the throat. Given that sore throat is a common symptom of mono, smoking weed may worsen this symptom and prolong your recovery time.

A study examined the effect of marijuana smoke on lung cells and found that it induced cellular oxidative stress and inflammation. [2] These effects can further irritate the respiratory system and potentially exacerbate the symptoms experienced during mono, such as a sore throat.

3. Potential Drug Interactions

Another consideration when smoking weed with mono is the potential for drug interactions. It’s important to consider any medications you may be taking to manage your mono symptoms. Cannabis can interact with certain medications, including antibiotics or antiviral drugs prescribed for mono. Inhibition or induction of drug-metabolizing enzymes by cannabinoids can affect the metabolism and efficacy of medications, potentially hindering your recovery from the infection.

A study published in The Permanente Journal investigated the drug interaction potential of cannabis and found that THC can modulate the activity of cytochrome P450 (CYP) enzymes, which are responsible for the metabolism of various medications. [3] These interactions can reduce the effectiveness of medications utilized to manage mono symptoms and potentially compromise your recovery.

Potential Benefits of Marijuana for Mono Symptoms

Potential Benefits of Marijuana for Mono Symptoms

Some people report using marijuana to help alleviate certain mono symptoms like headaches, fatigue, loss of appetite and body aches. The cannabinoids THC and CBD may have anti-inflammatory properties that could theoretically relieve swollen lymph nodes and throat discomfort. However, there is minimal clinical research specifically on marijuana as a mono treatment.

Any perceived benefits likely stem from the broad ability of weed to stimulate the endocannabinoid system and make people “feel good” temporarily. This does not necessarily equate to curative properties in regards to mono itself or address the underlying viral infection. Most doctors would not recommend marijuana as a proven or primary treatment approach given the lack of evidence and potential health risks involved.

Precautions if Smoking Marijuana with Mono

If you choose to smoke marijuana during a mono infection, take these precautions:

  • Smoke only a small amount to minimize respiratory irritation
  • Avoid sharing smoking devices to prevent spread of infection
  • Stay well hydrated and get extra rest
  • Monitor symptoms and stop use if they worsen
  • Consult your doctor about potential drug interactions 

Considering Alternative Options

Considering Alternative Options

Considering the potential risks and uncertainties surrounding smoking weed with mono, it is advisable to explore alternative ways to manage your symptoms and find relaxation. Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Rest and Hydration: Get plenty of rest, stay hydrated, and nourish your body with healthy foods to support your immune system and aid your recovery.
  2. Natural Remedies: Explore natural remedies like herbal teas, honey, and throat lozenges to soothe your sore throat and alleviate symptoms.
  3. Talk to Your Healthcare Provider: If you’re considering cannabis for symptom management, consult your healthcare provider to discuss potential interactions with your current medications and explore alternative options that may be safer and more suitable for your situation.

Final Thoughts

While the decision to smoke weed with mono ultimately lies with the individual, it’s important to consider the potential risks involved. Scientific studies have shown that smoking weed can suppress the immune system, irritate the respiratory system, and potentially interact with medications. These factors may hinder your recovery from mono and compromise your overall health.

It is always advisable to prioritize your health and recovery by exploring alternative ways to manage symptoms and seek guidance from healthcare professionals. Your healthcare provider can provide personalized advice based on your specific situation and help you make an informed decision regarding the use of cannabis or any other substance during mono.

FAQ:

Is it safe to smoke weed if I have mononucleosis?

Smoking weed while you have mononucleosis is not recommended. As mentioned in the article, smoking weed can suppress the immune system and potentially worsen symptoms like sore throat. It’s best to avoid smoking and focus on activities that support your immune system and overall health.

Is vaping a safer alternative to smoking weed with mono?

Vaping may reduce some risks associated with smoking, such as respiratory irritation from smoke. However, it still introduces foreign substances into your lungs, which can be harmful when your immune system is compromised, as with mononucleosis. The impact of vaping on the immune system is also not well understood, so caution is advised.

Can I consume edible marijuana products while I have mono?

Edible marijuana products bypass the respiratory system, so they don’t have the same risks as smoking or vaping. However, they still contain cannabinoids that can affect the immune system. Given that mono impacts the immune system, it’s advisable to consult with a healthcare professional before consuming edible marijuana products.

Sources:

  1. Robinson, R. H., Meissler, J. J., Breslow-Deckman, J. M., Gaughan, J., Adler, M. W., & Eisenstein, T. K. (2013). Cannabinoids inhibit T-cells via cannabinoid receptor 2 in an in vitro assay for graft rejection, the mixed lymphocyte reaction. Journal of neuroimmune pharmacology : the official journal of the Society on NeuroImmune Pharmacology, 8(5), 1239–1250. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11481-013-9485-1
  2. Sarafian, T. A., Magallanes, J. A., Shau, H., Tashkin, D., & Roth, M. D. (1999). Oxidative stress produced by marijuana smoke. An adverse effect enhanced by cannabinoids. American journal of respiratory cell and molecular biology, 20(6), 1286–1293. https://doi.org/10.1165/ajrcmb.20.6.3424
  3. Chayasirisobhon S. (2020). Mechanisms of Action and Pharmacokinetics of Cannabis. The Permanente journal, 25, 1–3. https://doi.org/10.7812/TPP/19.200

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