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Can Cannabis Treat Asthma?
Apart from the stressful time of Covid-19 going around, these are also the times of changing seasons. Most often when seasons are changing, those having problems with allergies, are suffering even more. Covid-19 is a virus that attacks the respiratory system. So, if you are a person who already has weak lungs, you really don’t want to worry about asthma attacks too. But does the idea of using marijuana to treat your lungs make sense? Smoking cannabis is normally the way people go, and when you suffer from a respiratory condition, it feels unlikely to add smoking marijuana to your treatment. Doctors are convinced though, that even smoking marijuana could benefit your lungs.
Asthma is a condition where your airways narrow and swells and produce extra mucus. This makes breathing difficult and triggers coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. All conditions you don´t want in this time of the coronavirus. Some might have it lightly and it doesn´t really interfere with daily tasks. Others are not so lucky and if not controlled, it could be life-threatening. Asthma cannot be cured, but the symptoms can be controlled. Asthma also changes over time, so it is important to work with your doctor to have the best outcome.
Asthma is a very common chronic inflammatory disease and often is present since childhood. Traditionally asthma is treated with steroids to reduce inflammation. It dilates the bronchial passages and normalizes breathing. For more severe cases, a nebulizer is needed to change liquid into mist as the lungs absorb it better. There are two types of medications asthma patients use. One is for quick-relief, and the other one is for long-term control.
Symptoms of Asthma
Asthma symptoms vary from person to person. Symptoms can be present all the time, or only after something like exercise. Some months in the year it could be worse. The symptoms include:
Shortness of breath
Chest tightness or pain
Trouble sleeping due to shortness of breath, coughing or wheezing
A wheezing sound when exhaling, especially in children.
Coughing and wheezing augmented by respiratory flu or cold virus
Some situations might flare Asthma up, like:
Exercise-induced asthma – It gets worse when the air is dry and cold
Occupational asthma – triggered by workplace irritants like chemicals, dust, and gases
Allergy-induced asthma – airborne substances like pollen, mold spores, cockroach waste, pets, etc.
As there is no cure for asthma as of yet, scientists and doctors are looking for the best possible treatment for asthma. Cannabis is, therefore, a possible way to go.
Can Cannabis Reduce Airway Inflammation?
Cannabis is something that can be inhaled in many different ways. You can use a water pipe, joint, or vaporizer to name a few. It delivers cannabinoids directly to the lungs. This makes it a viable way to treat asthma. Studies show that cannabis does not harm lung tissue. But inhaling the combustive by-products might offer some risks. Smoking is thus not the best way to treat lung disease. It is better to vape, or to use an inhaler for optimal results.
Both THC and CBD have been proving successful to treat asthma. Studies show that medical marijuana has a similar effect on the airways as some traditional asthma medication.
How THC Works for Asthma
THC is mostly known for its euphoric response due to its psychoactive properties. But THC acts quite similar to the endocannabinoids we have in our own body too. THC is known to effectively dilate airways in the lungs and inhibit coughing. Even when a person smokes marijuana, it dilates the airways. In comparison, cigarettes do exactly the opposite. Cigarettes constrict the airways.
When a person has an asthma attack, a chemical molecule, acetylcholine, normally responsible for maintaining muscle tone of the airways, also contributes to the contractions in asthma attacks. Traditional asthma medication blocks the molecule by preventing it to bind to the receptors. THC likewise does the same. It does not stop the molecule from binding, it prevents acetylcholine from being released. When THC is released through a vaporizer, it has almost immediate bronchial dilation effects without the risk of harmful smoke.
What about CBD?
CBD is also known for its anti-inflammatory properties. In fact, it has very strong anti-inflammatory benefits. Furthermore, CBD helps to let you sleep better and lowers stress-levels tremendously. Using CBD daily in oils or tinctures, help the body to reduce inflammatory responses in the body. CBD is very good at reducing bronchial spasms. CBD is very safe to use with little to no side-effects.
As cannabis technology is improving at a rapid pace, patients with lung problems have more options to choose from. There is easy access to cannabinoid inhalers and nebulizers that eliminates the need to smoke weed as a treatment for asthma. Vaporizers and vape pens are also out there. Obviously more studies will follow, but as for now, cannabis is viable in treating asthma.Apart from the stressful time of Covid-19 going around, these are also the times of changing seasons. Most often when seasons are changing, those having problems with allergies, are suffering even more. Covid-19 is a virus that attacks the respiratory system. So, if you are a person who already has weak lungs, you really don’t want to worry about asthma attacks too. But does
Can marijuana help treat asthma?
Changes in marijuana laws and the increased use of medicinal marijuana have led to questions about what conditions it can treat. Many people wonder whether marijuana can affect or treat asthma.
Asthma is a chronic lung disease that occurs when the airways in the chest get narrower or become inflamed. Symptoms of asthma include coughing, difficulty breathing, and wheezing.
There is no cure for asthma, so treatment involves managing the symptoms and preventing complications.
There is a growing interest in the use of medical marijuana to treat a range of health conditions, including asthma.
But people who use marijuana, or cannabis usually do so through smoking. What does this mean for a person with asthma? Is there any other way to use marijuana, and can it help reduce the symptoms of asthma?
Read on to find out more.
Share on Pinterest Marijuana contains anti-inflammatory properties.
Studies have suggested that some of the components in marijuana may benefit people with asthma.
Medical marijuana can refer to the whole plant, or it can be an active ingredient of marijuana taken from the plant and turned into a medication.
It is important to note the difference between recreational and medicinal uses of marijuana.
For recreational purposes, many people smoke marijuana. But smoking can have a negative impact on lung health, especially for people with asthma.
Smoking cannabis can cause the same symptoms as smoking tobacco, even when people smoke cannabis alone, possibly because smoke from cannabis and tobacco have similar properties.
These effects can be particularly hazardous for people with asthma.
In vaporizing, or “vaping,” the user inhales the vapor of the active ingredients but not the smoke. The vaporizer may contain a liquid cannabis extract.
There is little research on the use of vaporizers for marijuana use. However, a 2013 study found that using a vaporizer was likely to be less hazardous to the lungs than smoking.
Researchers in a 2015 review caution, however, “Preliminary findings do not support the idea that vaporization is an improvement over smoking.”
Using medical marijuana in other ways might provide benefits for people with asthma.
- consuming marijuana or its extracts in foods or drinking a tea
- consuming the active ingredients in capsules
- applying topical preparations onto the skin
Marijuana contains a range of active substances, known as cannabinoids. These include CBD and various types of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
THC is a psychoactive ingredient, but CBD is not. CBD does not have mind-altering properties.
CBD, THC, and some other substances in marijuana appear to have various health benefits, including anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic properties.
Some people use marijuana to treat chronic conditions that cause pain and inflammation, such as multiple sclerosis (MS). Some countries have approved the use of medical marijuana for this purpose, but the United States has not.
Researchers have looked into whether people with other inflammatory conditions, such as asthma, can use marijuana safely.
Findings of an animal study published in 2015 suggested that CBD might benefit people with asthma, due to its anti-inflammatory action.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have not yet approved the use of medical marijuana for asthma.
At this point, there is not enough evidence to ensure it can be safe and effective for asthma. However, it is possible that the anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic effects might reduce symptoms.
However, in June 2018, the FDA did approve the use of a purified form of cannabidiol (CBD) for the first time.
The FDA approved a drug called Epidiolex to treat two rare and severe forms of epilepsy that do not respond to other medications.
Research has found that THC can help suppress the immune system. This might help reduce symptoms that stem from autoimmune diseases, such as asthma. Since asthma is an allergy reaction, the immune system is over-reacting to something in the environment that is triggering the attack.
Studies have also suggested that one type of THC may have bronchodilatory properties, which means it could help make breathing easier for people with asthma.
However, it is often difficult to study the effect of marijuana and its components. This is because most people who use marijuana use the whole plant, and they smoke it regularly. This can make it hard to assess any positive effects on the lungs.
Using marijuana to treat asthma can involve some risks.
Studies have found that smoking marijuana can trigger an asthma attack. It may also increase the risk of both asthma and allergies.
Smoking marijuana during an asthma attack could further irritate the lungs, worsen coughing, and increase health risks.
As with any drug or medication, marijuana can have some side effects.
- changes in perception and mood
- reduced coordination
- difficulty thinking, reasoning, and remembering
Using marijuana without a doctor’s supervision increases the risk of these problems.
For people who begin smoking marijuana early, there appears to be a higher risk of asthma later in life. Another review discourages the use of marijuana for allergic asthma because of its potential to cause respiratory symptoms.
Complications of smoking
Smoking any substance, including marijuana, can irritate the lung tissue. Lung irritants can trigger or worsen asthma attacks in some people.
The immediate effects of smoking marijuana, tobacco, or a combination can include:
- increased sputum
- a chronic cough
- difficulty breathing
- a hoarse voice
- tightness in the chest
Anyone with asthma should avoid smoking any substance, including marijuana.
The long-term effects of smoking marijuana regularly include a higher risk of developing bronchitis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
A review of studies published in Nature linked bullous lung disease with marijuana use.
Bullae are large air sacs in the lungs that can put pressure on the lungs and chest, making it more difficult to breathe. They can also rupture or pop, which can trigger a lung to collapse. A collapsed lung can be life-threatening if it does not receive immediate treatment.
It is unclear whether smoking marijuana increases the risk of lung cancer. However, since marijuana smoke contains many cancer-causing chemicals similar to those in tobacco smoke, it is likely to contribute to the risk.
The American Lung Association warn the public that smoking marijuana can be a health risk. This may include second-hand marijuana smoking, too.
As one study concludes, “There is unequivocal evidence that habitual or regular marijuana smoking is not harmless … recreational use is not the same as medicinal use.”
Medicinal marijuana may help relieve asthma, but smoking is likely to make it worse.
Legal issues and regulation
The laws regarding marijuana and medical marijuana are continually developing. Check whether any form of marijuana is legal locally before obtaining or using it.
Some forms of medical marijuana, such as CBD oil may be legal, but there may be restrictions, or a person may need a prescription.
CBD oil and other marijuana-based products that do not have FDA approval are not regulated. This makes it difficult to know exactly what is in the product. The FDA do not approve marijuana for asthma.Asthma is a condition that causes chronic inflammation in the airways. Research about the anti-inflammatory effects of marijuana is ongoing and often positive. In this article, we look at whether marijuana can be used to help reduce asthma symptoms. We also look at the possible risks, as smoking can worsen symptoms. ]]>