Cannabinoids May Help Manage Asthma Symptoms..

It is estimated ( that currently over 3 million Canadians have asthma. Asthma is one of the most prevalent chronic conditions affecting Canadians. Asthma can be diagnosed at any age, but often starts in childhood. Doctors define asthma as a “chronic inflammatory disease of the airways” that can cause any orall of the following symptoms:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing

Some treatments for asthma are anti-inflammatory drugs (steroids) which are inhaled through devices called inhalers. This treatment works to open the airways of the patient (bronchodilation) which helps relieve wheezing,coughing,chest tightness and shortness of breath Inhaled steroids have few side effects if given at low doses. For more serious asthma cases a nebulizer may be used. A nebulizer is  a machine that changes medication from liquid to a fine mist. It is then inhaled and the medication is readily absorbed by the lungs. Possible side effects of this treatment are restlessness,headache, nausea and possible seizures.

As a possible alternative treatment for asthma, one study demonstrated that THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), a cannabinoid found in Cannabis that causes the psychoactive effects, may act as a temporary bronchodilator. As quoted by the author of the study..”We can conclude that in clinically stable asthmatic subjects with minimal to moderate brochospasm, both smoked and oral THC resulted in bronchodilation that last as long as 2-4 hours respectively”  And The New England Journal of Medicine
study stated that when inhaled, Cannabis smoke unlike tobacco smoke, causes bronchodilation, rather than broncho-constriction (narrowing of the air passages)”

A more thorough study  followed 5,000 subjects from three US cities for twenty years. The scientists interviewed each of the participants about their use of tobacco and cannabis use. As well, the subjects lung capacity and rate of air flow out of their lungs was tested. To the amazement of the researchers, it was found that those who smoked from low to moderate amounts of cannabis, had an increase in lung volume and airflow rate each year, up to seven years!

Asthma Facts & Stats
New England Journal of Medicine




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