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Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is a progressive inflammatory lung disease that obstructs airflow to the lungs and makes it difficult to breathe. C.O.P.D. is most commonly associated with the development of emphysema, chronic bronchitis, I.P.F. (Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis), Bronchitase and in some instances, asthma.
When a person has C.O.P.D., less air flows in and out of the airways, because either they lose their elastic quality or make more mucus than usual, causing clogging. In chronic bronchitis, the walls of the bronchial tubes become thick and inflamed. In emphysema, the walls between the air sacs can be destroyed, reducing airflow.
C.O.P.D. is caused by long-term exposure to irritating particulate matter or gases. The number one cause of C.O.P.D. is cigarette smoking, but other irritants, like second-hand smoke, air pollution and workplace exposure to dust and smoke can also pose problems. The disease develops slowly and symptoms get worse over time, until even the most basic physical activities, like walking or cooking, becomes too difficult.
The symptoms associated with C.O.P.D. typically include the coughing up of large amounts of mucus, shortness of breath, wheezing, and chest tightness. Symptoms often don’t appear until significant damage to the lungs has already occurred. C.O.P.D. is most commonly diagnosed in middle-aged and older adults.
C.O.P.D. has been shown to increase the risk of respiratory infections, heart problems, lung cancer, high blood pressure and depression. There is no cure for C.O.P.D. and damage to the lungs and airways is irreversible. However, treatments can help control symptoms and reduce the risk of complications and exacerbations.
For those who suffer from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and other respiratory illnesses, the desire to find a form of treatment that can address their symptoms without negatively affecting their health can be all-consuming. Since the acceptance of medical cannabis for a variety of conditions, many people suffering with respiratory ailments have been led to ask the question: “What are the real benefits of medical marijuana?”
Recent studies have shown that medical marijuana and its efficacy in treating respiratory illness, has been linked to its anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic properties. The good news is that in addition to this, the cannabinoids in medical cannabis have additional health benefits, which include:
Though marijuana has positive effects on respiratory health, experts have warned against smoking cannabis as a form of treatment. Instead, there are alternatives which are as effective, and less harmful on the lungs:
As far back as 1973, researchers discovered that marijuana acts as a bronchodilator. In subsequent research, these scientists discovered that cannabis containing at least 2% THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), relieved the symptoms of bronchospasms. Further studies conducted in 1976 and 1978, respectively, support these findings. In the study conducted in 1976, results showed that THC, in small doses, had similar effects as salbutamol, a common anti-asthma medication.
The cannabinoid CBD (cannabidiol) has strong anti-inflammatory effects. Specifically, it has been found to reduce inflammation in lung tissue. CBD has also been found to reduce the production on inflammatory compounds in the lings, known as cytokines. In a 2015 study conducted in Brazil, CBD was found to reduce the mucosal production, which is common in asthma.
Scientists have thus concluded that THC and CBD can reduce contractions in the lungs. THC acts on CB1 receptors to reduce these contractions, while CBD acts as an anti-inflammatory agent.
When using medical cannabis for C.O.P.D. and related respiratory conditions, the name of the game is really to relax or enlarge the bronchial passages, which contain smooth muscle. To achieve this, marijuana has shown to be an effective method of treatment for respiratory diseases.