Can Cannabis Help Asthma Patients?
Does the idea of using medical marijuana to treat asthma symptoms leave you scratching your head? Due to the fact that the most popular method of recreationally consuming cannabis is smoking, it may seem like an unlikely medical treatment for a respiratory condition. Any doctor will tell you that smoking cigarettes is not a good idea for asthma sufferers (or for anyone, really), but evidence is showing that cannabis may have beneficial effects for those with asthma or other respiratory conditions—even when smoked.
Asthma is a lung disease that causes a person’s airways to narrow and swell during an attack, which leads to wheezing, shortness of breath, and coughing. If not managed, attacks can be fatal. Asthma often becomes evident in children and there is no cure for the disease, though treatment can keep complications to a minimum. For many people symptoms are limited, but in the U.S. over 3000 people still die from asthma-related causes every year. Management of the disease is complicated by the sudden onset of the attacks— they can be triggered by everyday activities like exercise—and the fact that they are being increasingly linked with allergies.
Even in the medical community, there has long been debate over whether or not cannabis is helpful for asthma patients when smoked. Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease and cannabis is a known anti-inflammatory, so could the benefits outweigh the smoking risk? Studies on the pro side cite THC’s ability to dilate respiratory passages and inhibit coughing as factors that make it beneficial for some patients. Turns out, cannabis actually does the opposite of tobacco smoke in that it expands, rather than constricts bronchial passageways.
However, while there seems to be almost universal agreement that THC opens up airways, this information has always come with the warning that smoking may have adverse health effects, including tissue inflammation and throat irritation. Over the long term, this can lead to impaired overall lung function—the last thing an asthma sufferer wants to worry about. But the results are mixed; one large 20-year study found that moderate cannabis smokers with asthma actually improved their lung function without suffering the lung damage that is seen in cigarette smokers.
Even doctors have been surprised to see their patients get almost immediate relief from asthma attacks after smoking cannabis. The response can be as effective as the most commonly prescribed inhalers, but without the complications of corticosteroids, which can include high blood pressure, anxiety, and depression among other severe side effects. So what’s the asthma patient who wants a steroid-free treatment option to do?
For one, you can cut out the smoke. The most common pharmaceutical method of treating asthma attacks is through the use of corticosteroids delivered through inhalers that vaporize the medication. Asthma patients may also be familiar with a nebulizer, which is a tabletop machine that does the same thing. Sound familiar? Cannabis vaporizers have been improving in quality and growing in popularity. Some are sleek and pocketable for treatment on the go and are generally considered to be a safer alternative to smoking. When THC is delivered through a vaporizer, it still has the almost immediate bronchial dilation effects without the harmful smoke. Vaporizing cannabis isn’t really all that different from the current accepted treatments, just with what may be a more effective drug.
With THC and CBD increasingly showing their clout as anti-inflammatories, it remains to be been seen if long-term use of cannabinoids can help improve asthma over time, not just treat the attacks. Hopefully, growth in the acceptance and use of medical cannabis will lead to some more in-depth studies on how it can help asthma patients breathe easier.
CBD Oil for Asthma
Despite affecting nearly 1/10 of the US population, Asthma is often referred to as a “hidden” or “invisible” disability. This is because it has no symptoms that are obvious to a third party, and there’s no way to know just from looking at someone that they have asthma. Despite this, people with asthma have to deal with the illness every day of their lives, and for many, it’s a struggle. Thanks to modern treatment options, asthma does not have to get in the way of someone living a perfectly normal life, but it’s still important to manage the illness carefully.
Is CBD Good for Asthma?
Asthma is caused by inflammation of the airways, which can lead to coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. CBD is known for its anti-inflammatory properties, so it’s only natural that people would wonder if CBD is good for asthma.
Because CBD is such a relatively new treatment, we still aren’t completely sure how it works, but we do understand some things about it, and we are learning more all the time. So far, we know that the beneficial effects of CBD are a result of its interactions with the endocannabinoid system within the body. By binding to endocannabinoid receptors, CBD influences many processes, including pain, inflammation, and immune response. These processes are involved in many common illnesses, including asthma, and it stands to reason that CBD could be used to treat at least the symptoms of these illnesses.
So far, CBD has not been officially approved as a treatment for asthma, but the research that does exist shows that it could be very effective. By reducing inflammation in the airways and preventing muscle spasms in the lungs, CBD may be able to reduce the severity and frequency of attacks in individuals with asthma.
Best CBD for Asthma
There are many different types of CBD available on the market, including:
Unlike some other illnesses, asthma is not necessarily best treated with any one type of CBD; the best type of CBD for asthma depends on you, your personal experience, and how you plan to use CBD treatment.
CBD oil, which is typically used by placing it in the mouth or under the tongue with a dropper, is one of the faster-acting types of CBD. This makes it useful for treating asthma symptoms as you feel them coming on; if you are in an environment that is starting to cause symptoms, you can use CBD oil to stop them pretty quickly.
On the other hand, forms of CBD like capsules and edibles take longer to start working, but they also provide effects that last much longer. This makes them better for prevention, since they don’t work quickly enough to stop symptoms after they arise. If you plan to take CBD every day as a preventative, then capsules or edibles can be a more convenient and longer-lasting solution. Using CBD vapes for asthma is a tricky thing. It might seem that this would be the most effective thing to do, since conventional asthma treatments are typically inhaled. However, some CBD vapes contain ingredients that are added to change the flavor or texture of the oil, and these ingredients may irritate the lungs. For many people, vaping CBD is harmless and can alleviate their asthma symptoms, but it can be dangerous for others. We recommend being very careful if you are considering using CBD vapes as your primary form of CBD treatment.
CBD Dosage for Asthma
Since CBD is not an officially recognized treatment for asthma, there is also no official dosage that is both safe and effective. This means that you’ll have to figure out the best CBD dosage for asthma on your own. Some factors that can affect the right CBD dosage for you include:
- Type of asthma
- Asthma symptoms
- CBD tolerance
- Other asthma treatments
In general, as with other medications, you require a larger dose of CBD the more you weigh; males also tend to need a higher dose than females. Additionally, your body’s metabolism and tolerance for CBD can determine your appropriate dosage, since a higher tolerance or faster metabolism of CBD may mean that you require a larger dose to achieve the same effects.
However, it is always best to start with a small dose, even if you think you will end up needing a fairly large one. This allows you to work up incrementally until you find the right dosage for you, without consuming an unhealthy amount of CBD right away or wasting your CBD product by using too much. CBD isn’t dangerous, and you can’t “overdose” by using too much of it, but using a large dose after never having used it before may cause unpleasant symptoms like an upset stomach, so it’s best to go slow.
CBD oil can be a very effective treatment for asthma, thanks in large part to its anti-inflammatory properties. The best type of CBD to use and the appropriate dosage will be different for everybody, so you may need to experiment a bit to find your perfect treatment. We hope that this article has answered all of your questions about using CBD oil for asthma; now you can check out our product reviews to find the best products on the market and choose one that is right for you.