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Can cannabis ease asthma symptoms?



The role of anandamide in asthma and other lung diseases - study
Cannabis' anti-inflammatory properties could help ease symptoms of asthma

Research suggests cannabis could help ease the common symptoms of asthma – but how you consume it is key. 

According to the British Lung Foundation, about 8 million people in the UK have asthma – that’s around 12 per cent of the population.

Traditional methods to ease symptoms (the condition has no cure) mainly include inhalers and tablets – but is there another way?

We already know that the compounds found in cannabis – namely CBD – can have positive effects on conditions such as fibromyalgia and endometriosis, but the latest research suggests it can have a positive use for asthmatics too – as long as it is taken the right way.

Since asthma is caused by inflammation of the lungs, researchers are looking to discover if cannabinoids can work their anti-inflammatory magic on the condition. The science is especially promising for people who have allergic asthma.

It is also thought that CBD impacts the cytochrome p450 enzyme family, changing the way bodies metabolise pharmaceutical compounds, and possibly making medications more potent than they would otherwise be – meaning one puff of an inhaler would be far more effective.

In 2015, a study on animals found that CBD oil could ease asthma symptoms, largely due to its famed anti-inflammatory properties. Further research also suggests that THC, the main psychoactive compound in cannabis, can have a bronchodilator effect, which can also aid breathing by widening the airways.

According to some studies, THC can help suppress the immune system, which may help reduce symptoms; as asthma is essentially an allergic reaction, the immune system is over-reacting to something in the environment that is triggering the attack.

The relaxing effect of CBD may also be playing a part; stress and anxiety are two of the most common triggers for asthma, and anything that can ease those symptoms will no doubt play a part.

However, it can be difficult to get clear answers on exactly how beneficial whole-plant cannabis could be for asthmatics, largely due to the method people most commonly use to ingest it – smoking.

People with asthma should avoid smoking any substance to avoid further irritation in the lungs, and that includes cannabis.

The long-term effects of smoking cannabis regularly also include an increased risk of developing bronchitis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

And while it is unclear whether smoking cannabis increases the risk of lung cancer, since cannabis smoke contains many of the same cancer-causing chemicals as those in tobacco smoke, it is more than likely to contribute to the risk.

While there are other ways to ingest cannabis, such as in oils and in foods, so far there is limited evidence to conclusively prove the benefits for humans, with the study highlighted earlier was conducted on rats

It’s also worth remembering that anyone with a chronic health condition such as asthma should speak to a doctor before trying any new treatment – including CBD oil, to ensure that the product they use and the way they use it will be safe for them.



Cannabis Health is a journalist-led news site. Any views expressed by interviewees or commentators do not reflect our own. All content on this site is intended for educational purposes, please seek professional medical advice if you are concerned about any of the issues raised.

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