Understanding the Relationship Between Asthma and Medical Marijuana
Asthma is a chronic disease of the airways that makes breathing difficult. With asthma, there is inflammation of the air passages that results in a temporary narrowing of the airways that carry oxygen to the lungs.
This results in asthma symptoms, including:
- Shortness of Breath
- Chest Tightness
If it is severe, asthma can result in decreased activity and an inability to talk.
There are three major features of asthma:
1. Airway Obstruction — During normal breathing, the bands of muscle that surround the airways are relaxed, and air moves freely. But in people with asthma, allergy-causing substances, colds, and respiratory viruses, and environmental triggers make the bands of muscle surrounding the airways tighten, and air cannot move freely.
2. Inflammation — People with asthma have red and swollen bronchial tubes. This inflammation is thought to contribute greatly to the long-term damage that asthma can cause to the lungs. And, therefore, treating this inflammation is key to managing asthma in the long run.
3. Airway irritability — The airways of people with asthma are extremely sensitive. The airways tend to overreact and narrow due to even the slightest triggers such as pollen, animal dander, dust, or fumes.
Marijuana for Asthma
Marijuana is being legalized in many states. Some states have legalized it for medical purposes only. Others have legalized both medical and recreational use of this drug. You may be wondering whether marijuana could be a potential treatment for asthma.
A growing body of research is focusing on marijuana’s effects on asthma and whether cannabis plants can offer some relief for the condition. The focus isn’t so much on smoking marijuana joints, but rather on the cannabinoids instead. These are naturally-occurring substances in marijuana plants.
Cannabinoids are sometimes used to treat chronic pain and neurological conditions, such as arthritis and multiple sclerosis. This is due to their anti-inflammatory properties. Since asthma is caused by chronic inflammation of the lungs, researchers are trying to find out whether cannabinoids can have similar effects.
The THC in medical cannabis has been proven to be an effective bronchodilator, which means that it relaxes and widens these airways, allowing more oxygen to flow freely through them. The reason for this is not entirely known, although it is thought that airways in the lungs contain cannabinoid receptors that react strongly and favorably to THC. The use of medical marijuana not only act as bronchodilators, but they can also help eliminate the fear and anxiety that go hand-in-hand with asthma symptoms by relaxing and calming your mind. Indica-dominant strains, in particular, are a highly-effective soothing agent when anxiety over asthma symptoms sets in. In short, medical marijuana can be a completely life-changing tool for asthmatics.