Back to Conditions

Cannabis and CBD for Emphysema 

Emphysema is a type of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease that damages and stretches the air sacs in the lungs, leading to persistent cough and difficulty breathing. Smoking is the disease’s most common cause, but it may inherit emphysema. There is no cure, but smoking will stop emphysema from getting worse. Emphysema was diagnosed in the U.S. in 2016 by 3.5 million individuals, or 1.5% of the population. This disease has caused the deaths of 7,455 or 2.3 individuals per 100,000.

What is Emphysema

Emphysema is a respiratory disease that causes breathlessness. Air bags in the lungs (alveoli) are damaged in people with emphysema. Over time, air bags ‘ inner walls are weakened and broken — creating larger air spaces instead of many smaller ones. This reduces the surface of the lungs and, in effect the amount of oxygen reaching the bloodstream. The weakened alveoli will not work properly as you exhale and old air will be trapped, leaving no room for new, oxygen-rich air to join. Chronic bronchitis is an infection of the vessels that bring air into the lungs (bronchial pipes) that can lead to permanent cough. Chronic bronchitis is also the most common patient who has emphysema. Emphysema and chronic bronchitis are two conditions that cause chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Smoking is the main cause of COPD. Treatment can slow down this disease but it cannot reverse any damage.

Here are some key points about emphysema.

  • Cigarette smoking is the most common cause of emphysema.
  • Shortness of breath and cough are the main signs of emphysema.
  • Doctors diagnose lung function tests for COPD and emphysema that measure lung capacity.
  • Medications, inhalation therapy, respiratory aid and potential surgery are included in the diagnosis.
  • Treatment does not stop or reverse damage to the lungs, but may ease symptoms and prevent attacks.
  • In addition to emphysema, vaccines may help prevent new diseases that may become harmful.

The main cause of emphysema is long-term exposure to airborne irritants, including:

  • Tobacco smoke
  • Marijuana smoke
  • Air pollution
  • Chemical fumes and dust

Symptoms of Emphysema

You can have emphysema without evidence of signs or symptoms for many years. Emphysema is primarily due to shortness of breath, generally starting slowly. You may start avoiding activities that cause you to be short of breath, so the symptoms will not become a problem until it starts to interfere with daily tasks. Eventually, emphysema causes shortness of breath even while you’re at rest. Below are the some of the symptoms of Emphysema:

  • frequent lung infections
  • a lot of mucus
  • wheezing
  • reduced appetite and weight loss
  • fatigue
  • blue-tinged lips or fingernail beds, or cyanosis, due to a lack of oxygen
  • anxiety and depression
  • sleep problems
  • morning headaches due to a lack of oxygen, when breathing at night is difficult

How Cannabis Can Help Relieve the Symptoms of Emphysema

Cigarette smoking is the leading risk factor in developing this type of COPD. Since cannabis contains some of the same chemicals and toxins as cigarettes, some may be harmful to your lungs as well. However, there is no conclusive link between weed smoke and damaged lungs. Additionally, a link between lung cancer and marijuana has only been documented by several smaller studies. However, either the researchers used sample sizes that were too small for the studies, or smoking tobacco was not limited as a control factor, so they could not draw a definitive causal link.

Medical marijuana is currently legal in 23 states in the U.S. and Washington, D.C., but its use is a contentious issue with as many people as opposed to it. It has been found to be useful to reduce inflammation, improve sleep, relieve pain, support the immune system, and reduce phlegm, according to the Lung Institute. However, if you have a lung disease, smoking is one of the main problems. Cannabis smoking is harmful to those who have pulmonary diseases, as there are generally no “joint” filter and people tend to breathe deeper, allowing smoke to remain in their lungs for a long time (as cigarettes). Many people who do not smoke but want the benefits of medical marijuana choose to take the product with their food (e.g. cookies or brownies) or steam (where cannabis is burned at a lower temperature than flame, which then releases the active ingredient into a vapor or steam that can be inhaled).

Many people prefer alternatives to smoking marijuana-and-emphysema strains like:

  • Eating edibles: These produce longer effects and are more potent.
  • Vaporizing: This release steam not smoke.
  • Drinking tea: Add hot water, cream and small amounts of weed to black or green tea.
  • Applying tinctures: Effects take around 30 minutes to feel. Place drops under your tongue and let the treatment enter your bloodstream.

Do a little experimenting on your own to find the best method for your symptoms.

Medical cannabis treatment for Emphysema

Research shows that strong anti-inflammatory properties of medical marijuana could actually help in the treatment of emphysema as well as weight loss and insomnia. The advantage of cannabis is the flexibility of the form compared to other typical treatment options.

Nowadays, marijuana can be ingested via baked food, boiled and spread to teas, sprayed or consumed by means of non-THC reactive oils such as cannabidiol (CBD) orally, like a drop. Although cannabis may be a temporary way of treating symptoms for relief, it does not involve CBD oil in all cases of cannabis use. Another factor is that while some form of legalization has occurred in 26 states, the law on marijuana remains a federal issue.

Studies show that the treatment of cannabis and emphysema has possible therapeutic benefits for the control of inflammation-induced, acute attacks on the airway. It is therefore seen as a preventive measure for patients with emphysema. Numerous studies indicate that cannabis reduces inflammation and thus shows that it is an effective treatment in patients with chronic bronchitis to relieve inflamed airways. Thanks to its potent anti-inflammatory effect, CBD enhances lung function, indicating that it is also a preventive treatment for inflammatory lung diseases.

Anyone with Emphysema who wishes to use cannabis in forms like edibles or oils should consult a physician first. Cannabis products contain a lot of chemicals that can be harmful to people with emphysema.


Personalized Cannabis Consultations

Whether you are new to cannabis and need to learn the basics, or are simply trying to achieve more positive cannabis experiences, Veriheal’s coaches are here to help. You have the opportunity to become informed about this wonderful plant. Book an appointment today with one of our compassionate coaches to have a private discussion about your cannabis journey.

Book Consultation
Back to Conditions

Data Last Updated 03/16/2020