The legalization of the cannabis industry and the increased popularity of medical cannabis has raised some questions. Consumers are curious about the healing power of medicinal cannabis, and whether or not, it can treat asthma. Asthma is a lung disease that affects individuals and causes the narrowing or inflammation of the airways. Common symptoms may include difficulty breathing, coughing, and wheezing.
Asthma, sadly, has no cure. However, many treatment options are available to manage the symptoms and prevent further complications. Moreover, researchers are intrigued by the connection between medicinal cannabis and asthma. The question though is the consumption method. Most people smoke cannabis, which isn’t a very healthy option for asthma patients.
Studies show that specific components of cannabis can be potentially beneficial for asthma patients. Medicinal cannabis can be a reference to the entire plant or a specific beneficial component which later forms the medication. However, to understand the difference between medicinal cannabis and recreational cannabis is essential.
Medical cannabis uses specific cannabinoids to interact with the endocannabinoid system of the body, to target specific responses. Medical cannabis is widely used to treat and/or alleviate the symptoms of a lot of different issues, which can include, depression, anxiety, menopause, endometriosis, PTSD, cancer, inflammation, arthritis, etc.
A lot of people smoke cannabis for recreational purposes. However, this can negatively affect the lungs, which can be a further complication for asthma patients. Smoking of any kind can cause irritation to the lungs, of a healthy individual as well, which can lead to further complications.
The use of medicinal cannabis in other forms can add more benefits and safety for asthma patients. Multiple options can also include consumption of cannabis or extracts in tea or food (commonly known as edibles), consumption of the active and primary ingredients in the form of capsules, and the application of topical preparations right onto the skin.
Cannabis generally contains various active compounds commonly known as cannabinoids. These compounds also include the most popular cannabinoids, CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). THC is primarily a psychoactive compound. Unlike CBD, it gives the feeling of high or a sense of euphoria. CBD does not produce any mind-altering effects.
CBD and THC are one of the many compounds in cannabis that can provide several health benefits. The anti-spasmodic and anti-inflammatory properties are examples. Some individuals use cannabis in an attempt to treat chronic illnesses that cause inflammation and pain, like multiple sclerosis (MS). While many countries have legally approved the use of medicinal cannabis for these purposes, the United States did not participate.
Researchers have studied the safety of cannabis for patients suffering from asthma and other inflammatory conditions. An animal study from 2015, showed that CBD could be potentially beneficial for asthmatic patients due to its anti-inflammatory properties. The FDA (U.S Food and Drug Administration), however, has not legally declared the use of medicinal cannabis for asthma.
Currently, there is a lack of substantial evidence to construct a conclusive outcome that would ensure the safety and effectiveness of medical cannabis for asthma. Although, there is a possibility that the anti-spasmodic and anti-inflammatory properties of medical cannabis could alleviate the symptoms of asthma. In June 2018, the use of a pure form of CBD was approved by the FDA.
The FDA also approved Epidolex, which was a drug used for the treatment of 2 severe but rare forms of epilepsy. these forms of epilepsy usually do not interact with any other medication. Research shows the ability of THC to suppress the body’s immune system. This further helps in t reduction of the symptoms projected from autoimmune diseases, one of which is asthma. As asthma is typically an allergic reaction the over-reaction of the immune system is caused due to a triggering environment.
Studies show that a form of THC may potentially have bronchodilator properties, hence, help to make breathing easier for asthmatic patients. However, commonly it can prove to be difficult to study the impact of cannabis and its compounds. This is due to the reason that most people using cannabis, tend to use the entire plant by regularly smoking. This makes the assessment of the compounds and their positive effects, harder.
Although beneficial, there might be some risks involved. Studies have shown that smoking cannabis can potentially trigger an asthma attack, as any other form of smoking. It may also develop further risks of allergies. Smoking cannabis while suffering from an asthma attack could cause irritation in the lungs, heighten health risks, and worsen coughing.
However, for medical cannabis in non-smoking alternatives, there may be side effects including
fluctuations in mood and perception
difficulty in remembering, reasoning, and thinking
A doctor’s supervision and advice are essential when using medical cannabis, to minimize the risks.
The laws surrounding cannabis, for both medical and recreational purposes, are constantly evolving with new changes. While some states and countries have legalized cannabis for both purposes, many have only legalized medical cannabis, while others haven’t legalized either. Hence it is important to check your state and federal laws before trying to obtain and/or use cannabis.
Many forms of medical cannabis, like CBD oil, are legal. However, there are restrictions involved and a need for prescriptions. CBD oil and many cannabis products that do not require FDA approval, are not regulated either. This can cause further ambiguity regarding the contents of the cannabis product. Furthermore, cannabis is not approved by the FDA, for treating asthma.
Like any other medication, a consultation with a licensed doctor is necessary. Any additional treatments for any chronic illnesses, like asthma, should be consulted with a doctor, to understand drug-to-drug interactions, along with the risks and side effects involved.
Since medical cannabis can have potential risks associated as well, a licensed doctor is the best individual to refer to, for a better understanding regarding the effectiveness of the treatment.