Asthma and Marijuana: Are they Compatible?

asthma and marijuana

The possible benefits of marijuana are gaining more and more traction nowadays, with several studies and anecdotal information supporting these claims. Some of these health benefits include treatment of depression, alleviation of stress, promotion of cognitive performance, control for seizures, and many more. However, the idea of asthma and marijuana may leave a lot of people raising their eyebrows and scratching their heads. 

What is Asthma?

In this article, we will look at the potential relationship between asthma and marijuana. But before doing so, let us take time to understand asthma.

Asthma is a chronic lung condition that causes inflammation in the airways that carry air from the nose and mouth to the lungs. The airways can also be filled with mucus, and as a result, people struggle with tightness in the chest, coughing, feelings of weakness, and sporadic breathing difficulties. While the main cause of this disease is not known, several factors, including genetics, are thought to play a role in its development. This condition can also be triggered in a number of ways, including changes in temperature, inhalation of smoke and allergens, exercise, and even intense emotions such as stress and laughing. Globally, more than 300 million people are living with this disease, and around 25 million of these people are in the United States alone.

To date, there is no known cure for asthma. It is all about managing the symptoms of the disease in order to keep it under control. It is a very serious condition that has proven to be fatal if left unattended or untreated. Every year, around 250,000 deaths related to the disease are reported worldwide. 

With marijuana being legalized across many states, for both medical and recreational use, people have started looking at cannabis as an alternative treatment method for asthma. But, unsurprisingly, many people are apprehensive about the idea because it sounds simply counterintuitive. It is common knowledge that smoking can worsen any inherent breathing problems. Considering that people who have asthma have inflamed airways, this makes them very sensitive to anything that will go through the same passages. However, several pieces of evidence have come up, suggesting that marijuana may help alleviate asthma symptoms. These pieces of research show that certain compounds found in the plant make it ideal for treating the disease.

How Can Marijuana Be an Effective Treatment for Asthma?

THC can produce bronchodilatory effects. Marijuana has long been known to have anti-anxiety and anti-inflammatory properties, but these benefits were never tested on asthma patients. In 1976, however, a study on patients with asthma and marijuana showed the possible benefits of the herb on the disease. The patients were administered 1/5 of a milligram dose of THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol), the herb’s principal psychoactive compound, and it revealed that the compound not only acted as an effective bronchodilator, but the effects were also immediate. The compound mimicked how salbutamol, a common anti-asthma medication, works but without the complications of corticosteroids, which includes high blood pressure and anxiety. It opened up or dilated the respiratory passages instead of narrowing them, which is usually the case when smoking tobacco. 

However, a trip down history will show that asthma and marijuana goes a long way since the time of the legendary French writer, Marcel Proust, in the late 1800s to early 1900s. The writer is known to refer to his marijuana rolls as “anti-asthma joints.” Several pieces of evidence also found that before cannabis use was prohibited in the 1930s, many physicians often prescribed marijuana concoctions as a medicine for cough. 

Mild Cannabis Use Reveals Improved Lung Functioning

In the modern era, a long-term study conducted over a span of 29 years looked at approximately 5,000 subjects within the ages of 18 to 30 years old. The research was called the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA), and it was supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). This study started in 1985, and when it ended, it was well-praised and recognized for its methods as well as its discoveries or results. The study showed that while there seems to be a universal agreement that it is unwise to light up a joint if you have asthma, it seems that there is some merit in using the herb to help treat symptoms of asthma, especially when being consumed in other ways. Mild cannabis users were shown to display improved lung functioning without suffering the damage that is observed in tobacco smokers.

Alternative Methods to Consume Marijuana, Aside from Smoking

Edibles, for instance, is a potentially safer and more suitable option for patients with asthma. Cannabis edibles are food induced with cannabinoids, especially THC and CBD. This method of consuming marijuana is quickly becoming a popular way to consume drugs nowadays, with many dispensaries offering lozenges, lollipops, chocolates, and drinks containing marijuana. It is important to understand though that consuming cannabis edibles, as compared to smoking, will take time to kick in as the body needs to breakdown the edibles and get to the marijuana content. Knowing the onset time of these edibles will help you avoid overdosing on the drug.

Another way to cut out the smoke, which can further irritate the respiratory passages, is through the use of inhalers that vaporize the medication. Cannabis vaporizers are growing in popularity nowadays, and they are improving in quality. Many users of these pocketable devices have reported an almost immediate bronchial dilation effect, which makes it no different from the currently acceptable medications. The only difference between cannabis vaporizers and the typical ones is that the latter is more effective and, again, removes the risks associated with corticosteroids. It remains to be seen if long-term use of these cannabis vaporizers can help improve or even cure asthma over time. 

What Are the Strains Compatible with Asthma?

While there is generally no strain considered to be the best ones for the possible treatment of asthma, here are some of the classic strains that can have the needed inflammatory properties.

1. Charlotte’s Web

This strain is known for its high CBD concentration, reaching up to 17%. It is known to combat inflammation, relieve pain, and offer feelings of relaxation. This Sativa-dominant strain is commonly used to treat stress, anxiety, and depression.

2. Cannatonic

This strain contains high levels of CBD and TCH content and is considered one of the most popular balanced hybrids available on the market. Top reported effects from the strain include feelings of happiness, creativity, as well as boosted energy. The strain is also known for its anti-inflammatory properties.

3. Harlequin

Another Sativa-leaning hybrid known for its anti-inflammatory properties and high levels of CBD. It not only boasts of a fascinating name (after the mime), but it also provides a sweet, fruity flavor and creamy exhale that will delight the senses. 

Afterthoughts

Asthma and marijuana – this combination may be new and strange to many people who know how asthma works. However, there is more and more recognition of the drug’s benefits on asthma patients nowadays. Not only is marijuana known to treat pain, stress, and anxiety, it is also known for its anti-inflammatory properties. This does not automatically mean, though, that all methods of consumption are efficient.