Smoking marijuana could help keep sinus problems at bay, according to a new study, reports UPI. ”The results of this study suggest that a higher frequency of cannabis use is associated with a lower likelihood of sinonasal symptoms,” according to the authors.
The study found people who use Cannabis may experience fewer bouts of congestion, sneezing and sinus pain than their nonsmoking peers do. But the reasons why, for now, remain cloudy.
The study of nearly 2,300 U.S. adults found, as expected, tobacco smokers are often plagued by such symptoms. But the same just did not hold true for regular pot users.
The findings, experts warned, don’t mean that people can simply chase away a runny nose by firing up a doob. It may not be the simple, and it’s not clear that the herb is actually protective.
Reverse Causation, or Cannabinoids?
It could even be a case of reverse causation, said researcher Dr. Kevin Hur, an otolaryngologist at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine.
That is, people who already experience nasal or sinus symptoms could steer clear of weed, Hur explained.
But at the same time, Hur and his team speculated, it’s possibly due to benefits from cannabinoids, therapeutic compounds in the marijuana plant.
Cannabinoids Have Anti-Inflammatory Effects
Other research has found that cannabinoids have anti-inflammatory effects, and they might reduce swelling in the mucus membranes. That, in theory, could help quell chronic nasal and sinus symptoms.
The only way to find out, Hur said, is with more research. Longer studies could help figure out the question, he noted.
The findings, published in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery, are based on 2,269 U.S. adults who took part in a government health study.
Cannabis Users 78% Less Likely To Report Problems
Most in the study — 75% — said they’d never used marijuana. Meanwhile, 9% regularly used it, and 16% occasionally did. The survey, conducted in 2013-2014, didn’t ask people whether they smoked the herb or took it other ways, Hur said.
Of regular marijuana users, 45% said they had symptoms like frequent nasal congestion, sneezing or sinus pain, or a dulled sense of smell in the past year. But that was substantially higher — nearly 65% — with people who’d never used Cannabis.
Hur’s team then looked at other factors. These included whether people were tobacco smokers. And it turned out that cigarette smokers were twice as likely as nonsmokers to report nasal or sinus symptoms.
In contrast, people who regularly used Cannabis were 78% less likely to report those problems, versus those who never used pot. And this is after factors such as age, race, education and income level were taken into account.
Could Lead To New Cannabinoid-Based Medications
“This study does raise the question of whether there’s some anti-inflammatory effect of cannabinoids,” said Dr. Alfred Iloreta, of Mount Sinai’s Icahn School of Medicine in New York City.
If that’s proven to be the case, it could lead to new cannabinoid-based medications for chronic nasal and sinus symptoms.