Last Updated on January 27, 2021 by Maxwell Harris
As researchers continue to study medical cannabis’ potential, one of their areas of focus is the relationship between CBD and asthma and whether or not CBD can be used to treat shortness of breath. Asthma is a respiratory disease that is more prevalent in children, although it also affects adults.
Most people who oppose the use of cannabis in treating asthma think that it will escalate the problem more as they think cannabis is only vaped or smoked. They also raise concerns about the psychoactive effects of cannabis, especially since most of them are minors. In this article, we will look at the possibilities asthma patients can explore should they decide to give CBD a try, as well as the potential treating effects of CBD on people with asthma.
What is Asthma?
Asthma is a pulmonary disease, similar to COPD, that is characterized by restricted breathing. Some of the symptoms of asthma may include wheezing, coughing, tightness of the chest, difficulty in breathing and shortness of breath. As with any condition, the symptoms will vary from one person to another. Most commonly, asthma symptoms become apparent during cold weather, during exercise or high body activity or in the presence of allergens.
An asthma attack can be triggered by allergens like pet dander, dust, molds, pollen and strong odors. Some non-allergen triggers of asthma attacks are stress, smoke, weather elements, illness and strong displays of emotions, such as screaming, crying, and laughing.
Allergic asthma is the most common type of asthma. In this case, the immune system overreacts to the presence of allergens thus tightening of the airways and making it difficult for the patient to breathe. The more common allergens include pollen, pet dander, cockroach feces, dust mite excrements, mold spores, cold, and germ-ridden dirt.
The cause of asthma (any type of asthma incl. allergic asthma) is still unknown, though it is considered to be a genetic abnormality. It affects more boys than girls, but more women die of asthma than men.
How is Asthma Diagnosed?
If you are already showing symptoms of asthma, your physicians will most probably order a few easy tests.
- Distinguish between Asthma, COPD and other respiratory conditions
Many luing conditions have similar symptoms. Your doctor will first make sure you are actually suffering from asthma and not a related lung condition. This is usually achieved with a physical exam to rule out the other conditions.
- Lung Capacity Test
Also called a pulmonary test, lung function tests will measure your breathing capacity. This will also help the doctor determine the further course of treatment.
How are Asthma Attacks Treated?
There is no cure for asthma yet. Patients have to learn how to make asthma attacks manageable. Some of the current treatments include bronchodilators and steroids. The medication is for relieving attacks, and for long-term management of the symptoms.
A common way to reduce asthma attacks and other asthma symptoms are rescue inhalers, nebulizers, anti-inflammatory medication and corticosteroids
Rescue inhalers are fast-acting bronchodilators. They work by relaxing constricted lung muscles and thus unblock the airways. The biggest benefit of these inhalers is that they provide relief in minutes.
A nebulizer contains bronchodilators and humid air, which are conveyed through a mask covering nose and mouth. By using a nebulizer, asthma patients inhale the bronchodilators deep into their respiratory system to quickly open airways and restore normal breathing.
What is CBD?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is among the hundreds of cannabinoids found in cannabis. These cannabinoids have powerful therapeutic benefits, and they are relentlessly being studied to establish how they can help treat diseases like asthma, screrosis, and diabetes.
CBD is extracted from cannabis sativa and made into different products. Although some people smoke it, medical CBD is made into capsules, powders, beverages, pills, creams, and gummies. THC, the chemical that gives cannabis its psychoactive effect is excluded when extracting CBD from the cannabis plant. This makes CBD safe for medical use without making patients feel high.
The terms CBD and CBD oil are most of the time used interchangeably. You should know that some are extracted from the cannabis seeds while the rest are from the stalk, flowers, leaves, and stem, but they all have medical benefits.
Benefits of CBD oil for Treating Asthma
CBD is a bronchodilator
This is the most significant property of CBD in treating asthma. Asthma is associated with constricted bronchioles, the tubes that carry oxygen to the alveoli. When a patient has an asthmatic attack, it is common for them to experience shortness of breath as these tubes narrow down.
This reduces the amount of oxygen they are carrying, making the patient gasp for breath.CBD helps to dilate these tubes. When they dilate, they carry enough oxygen, and the patient can breathe normally.
CBD helps dilate bronchioles during an attack or under normal circumstances. Some studies suggest that it acts faster than isoproterenol and keeps the tubes dilated for longer. However, this is still under investigation as some experts think that it can cause bronchial constriction when the patient recovers from an attack after a CBD treatment.
CBD is an anti-mucosal and expectorant
Overproduction of mucus and the inability to excrete this mucus can irritate asthma patients and cause congestion on their chests. This congestion reduces the air that can pass through the patient’s airways, causing discomfort.
CBD has shown the potential to reduce the secretion of excess mucus and decongest the airwave and lungs. This is helpful to patients who need clear airwaves to inhale and exhale without inhibition.
CBD is an anti-spasmodic
The bronchioles and the bronchial muscles in an asthma patient constrict and become inflamed. Studies have shown that CBD has an anti inflammatory effect that can be of help to asthmatic patients, and it reduces the inflammation on the bronchiole and the bronchial muscles.
CBD is an analgesia
Acute chest pains are one of the symptoms that asthma patients present with during an attack. The spasms of the bronchioles as they constrict and dilate can cause significant pain in a patient.
CBD may help by reducing the constriction and allowing more air to pass through the airwaves, thus reducing the pain the patient is experiencing. CBD may also reduce pain in asthma patients by working on the pain receptors on the chest.
How CBD Products are Used to Treat Asthma
If you have asthma, you know that smoking can be life-threatening to you. You should use CBD treatments that do not involve smoking cannabis. Here are the best alternatives for you:
Inhaler: You are probably familiar with the regular inhaler that most patients use. It is now possible to get an inhaler that has CBD oil added to it. This is an excellent way of depositing the CBD where it is needed most so that it can start acting immediately.
Gummies: These are good as you can take them any time, with or without an attack. They will keep your bronchial muscles and tubes relaxed, which will reduce the frequency of your attacks.
Vaporizer: While a CBD vaporizer can dilate and decongest your chest, you have to use it cautiously. You should not let the vapor cause you to cough as it can trigger fatal bouts of coughs. Also, you should know that vaping can cause more harm to your lungs if you do not do it in the right way.
CBD Oil: There are CBD oils in the market that can help you to treat asthma. You can also buy CBD in the form of capsules or syrup forms. The capsules are good as you know how many you should take for each dose which makes dosing very easy. Or you can ingest the syrups or put some drops under your tongue to diffuse into your body.
CBD Powder/Crystals: You can mix this powder with your preferred drink or with water. Read the label of your powder, or enquire from your vendor to know the best way to mix it and the right dosage.
Side effects of CBD
The benefits of your CBD override the mild side effects that you may experience. The side effects also differ in different users as our bodies do not react similarly. Here are some side effects that you may experience when using CBD in treating asthma.
- Low heart rate
- Dry mouth
- Loss of appetite
Precautions to Take CBD
To get the best out of your CBD oil in treating asthma, work closely with your medical care provider. Some medication should not be used together with CBD products. Your doctor can guide you in knowing which drugs to avoid when using CBD.
Avoid smoking and vaping if you have asthma. This can be fatal as it can worsen the condition of your lungs. You should put your health above having fun and feeling high. Also, even when you start using CBD, do not stop using your regular medication.
Be careful about when to begin your CBD treatment. You should not begin during a serious attack. Also, you should eat well to boost your immune system before using medical CBD.
Is CBD legal?
CBD is legal in some states and illegal in others. You should find out if CBD is legalized in your state.
Will my doctor prescribe CBD oil for my asthma?
Some doctors recommend it to their patients. If CBD is legal in your area, discuss with your caregiver to decide if you will use it as part of your asthma treatment, or not.
In some states, you need to be authorized for you to access the medical CBD. Governments and local authorities put this as a requirement to limit access and reduce its abuse by recreational users.
Also, you will not find CBD in your regular pharmaceutical shop. However, if you want to buy CBD, you can get it in licensed online shops.
How to Choose Your CBD Vendor
You want to be sure you are getting high-quality CBD to treat your asthma. You should look at the label to see if your CBD products contain substances that can be harmful to you as an asthma patient. Reviews from other users can reveal their experience with the vendor and the quality of the product. If you are considering using CBD for asthma, but you don’t know what to look for, when buying for the first time – see our dedicated buyer’s guide.
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- Pini, A., Mannaioni, G., Pellegrini-Giampietro, D., Beatrice Passani, M., Mastroianni, R., Bani, D. and Masini, E. (2012). The Role of Cannabinoids in Inflammatory Modulation of Allergic Respiratory Disorders, Inflammatory Pain and Ischemic Stroke. Current Drug Targets, 13(7), pp.984-993.