CBD oil and asthma
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- Research overview
- The studies
- Patient perspectives
- What the experts say
- Bottom line
If you or someone you love has asthma then you know how debilitating the symptoms can be. Wheezing, coughing, and labored breathing are just a few of the disruptive effects of this chronic lung disease that affects 25 million Americans. Smoking cannabis might not be the best idea for someone with lung disease, but what about using CBD oil to treat asthma?
Wheezing, coughing, and labored breathing are just a few of the disruptive effects of asthma. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
As there is no cure for asthma, researchers are seeking treatments that manage the symptoms with the fewest possible side effects. According to some recent research conducted on animal models, cannabidiol (CBD) oil could be one potential therapeutic option.
The results of a 2015 study published in “Mediators of Inflammation” showed that CBD was able to stop the oversensitive inflammatory response in rats induced with asthma. The study’s authors said CBD is a potential new asthma treatment.
A 2015 study showed that CBD could be a potential new asthma treatment. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
A subsequent 2019 study published in the “European Journal of Pharmacology” found that CBD reduces airway inflammation and fibrosis in mice with allergic asthma. Further, the anti-inflammatory properties of cannabis may be useful in treating asthma. Researchers who had previously shown that CBD administered to mice prior to a lung injury reduced inflammation also examined the effect of CBD given after the injury. They found that CBD had “a potent anti-inflammatory effect” and improved lung function.
Finally, there may be some therapeutic value in full-spectrum oil, which does contain the intoxicating cannabinoid THC as well as CBD. A 2016 literature review published in the “Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology” found that THC may help suppress the immune system. In some types of asthma, the immune system overreacts to an environmental trigger, resulting in bothersome symptoms. The findings of this study could be especially beneficial for those who suffer from allergic asthma. Researchers in this study also noted that the cannabinoid system plays an important role in balancing immunity.
Asthma is a condition that most sufferers learn to manage over time, through lifestyle and environmental changes as well as prescription maintenance medication and rescue inhalers for asthma attacks. Nick Foster is an author and blogger who writes about methods for controlling asthma. On his blog Treating Asthma at Home, Foster writes that his asthma was mostly controlled by diet and exercise, but he still felt symptoms and discomfort occasionally so he decided to try CBD. After taking 20 milligrams a day sublingually or orally, he blogged about the results. “I’ve been taking CBD for about a year now, and I still haven’t had to sit through any discomfort or other asthmatic symptoms, let alone use my rescue inhaler,” Foster said.
Since he was a child, Salvatore Miceli has kept an inhaler in his pocket, ready to treat his near daily asthma attacks. In 2018, Miceli tried CBD oil for the first time and has observed a greater clarity in his breathing. He shared with Weedmaps in a phone interview, “Not only does the CBD oil help me breathe better but it also makes me calmer. Asthma attacks can be stressful and scary, so it’s great to have a treatment that addresses that as well.”
Miceli’s experience with CBD oil has been so positive that he has considered canceling his upcoming surgery to repair a deviated septum. He said, “If the results continue like this, then I would love to skip the surgery.”
Is Miceli’s success with CBD oil to treat asthma surprising to medical professionals? That depends on who you ask.
What the experts say
The lowered levels of anxiety Miceli credits to CBD oil do not come as a surprise to anyone familiar with the benefits of medical marijuana. In fact, cannabis has been emerging as an alternative to anxiety medications and some top physicians are recognizing the potential.
Dr. Bonni Goldstein, medical director of Canna-Centers Wellness & Education in California and medical adviser to Weedmaps, has observed exceptional long-term results with hundreds of anxiety patients who have been treated with cannabis medicine.
“Cannabinoids such as THC, CBD, and CBG can be utilized to help anxiety sufferers reduce symptoms and improve the quality of their lives,” Goldstein said.
But what about the direct breathing issues related to asthma? Organizations such as the Lung Institute are quick to dismiss the idea of asthma patients smoking cannabis as dangerous, but some experts believe that using alternative measures such as CBD oil may yield a better outcome. In 2017, Bronchiectasis News reported that vaporized or edible forms of cannabis may offer temporary relief to some individuals with lung disease.
Vaporized or edible forms of cannabis may offer temporary relief to some individuals with lung disease. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
With a fundamental lack of research into how CBD oil affects people with asthma, many medical experts remain on the fence about the treatment’s benefits and drawbacks.
CBD oil may be able to offer anti-inflammatory relief to some asthma patients when administered under a physician’s care.CBD oil and asthma Copy article link to clipboard. Link copied to clipboard. Contents Research overview The studies Patient perspectives What the experts say
CBD And Asthma
It has been known for many years that smoked Cannabis is a bronchodilator and can be useful in treating asthma. Usually, asthma is a problem with bronchospasm (wheezes) and increased mucous production in the smaller airways of our lungs. There is a large component of anxiety associated with asthma, as who would not be scared when it is difficult to breathe. More anxiety causes worsening bronchospasm, which causes more anxiety.
Typical inhalers contain adrenergic (adrenaline-like) stimulants, which work well but tend to heighten anxiety. It would be nice to have more alternatives to treat bronchospasm.
Since richer levels of THC can cause increased anxiety, using CBD seems like a reasonable thing to try. Last week a patient came into our office who had obtained some CBD-rich tincture at a local collective and said he felt it was helping his asthma. He was off of his Advair inhaler for a week and wanted to be “checked.”
We administered a baseline spirometry test and then repeated the test 15 minutes after the patient had taken three drops of his CBD-rich tincture. The graphic shows the result:
FEV1 is forced expiratory volume at one second (when the patient breathes out as hard as s/he can).
FVC is forced vital capacity (the amount of air you can blow out after taking a deep breath).
PEF is the peak expiratory flow rate at any point during the exhalation.
You can see that after a three-drop dose of the tincture taken sublingually, the patient’s FEV1 and PEF nearly doubled. This would generally be considered a great response to a typical bronchodilator!
It is well documented that CBD is a very potent bronchodilator and useful in the treatment of Asthma.
Taking CBD by any method does result in decreased airway resistance. So, how about taking it by inhalation without smoke?
Yes, how about that. So, now there are vape pens available that have CBD oil inside them. In general, a couple of puffs will give the patient 6-8 mg of whole plant CBD + some THC directly into their lungs.
We are looking into this for lung cancer as well.
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