Symptoms of asthma include coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath, which are usually triggered by things like food allergies, exposure to irritants and seasonal allergies, or sometimes intense bouts of exercise. What sorts of things make someone more susceptible to developing asthma? There are many contributing factors, including eating a poor diet, being overweight or obese, having low immune function, spending very little time outside, and having a family history of asthma.
Although the theory hasn’t yet been proven, some experts believe that asthma might be affecting more people today than ever before due to the widespread use of medications that alter normal immune functions. Adding to this problem is the fact that more people are spending lots of time indoors where irritants can be found. In addition, rising rates of obesity over the past 30 years have contributed to rising asthma diagnoses.
In 1973, Dr. Donald Tashkin, a lung expert and professor of medicine and his team discovered that smoked cannabis acts as a bronchodilator. During an asthma attack, the bronchioles (the branching network of tubes that carry oxygen to the alveoli) become constricted, causing the rate of oxygen flow to drastically reduce. The administration of cannabis in various forms can significantly improve bronchoconstriction both during an asthma attack and in normal circumstances. His work, which first found that lung airways widen in both healthy and asthmatic individuals after smoking cannabis, was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Tashkin’s research led to subsequent studies that attempted to deliver THC to asthmatic patients through an inhaler. Unfortunately, these efforts were unsuccessful based on the fact that the THC molecule was too large and also caused patients to cough. Based on the time period of his research, vaporization wasn’t an available approach to delivering cannabinoids and terpenes to patients for medical treatment.
The problem with the smoke is that it contains a lot of noxious components that are irritating to respiratory tissue and could lead to an inflammatory response in the central airways, which would not be a good thing to develop in an asthmatic.” Although vaporizers appropriate for cannabis weren’t available in the early 1970s, Tashkin did consider the role of vaporization in treating asthmatics with THC.
While smoking has, ironically, been shown to benefit asthma sufferers, it’s obviously not optimal. Technology, the general understanding of cannabinoids, affordable electronics, have transpired to create a market for cost-effective pocket vaporizers that help asthma patients avoid further damage to their lungs while they regain their breathing capacity or stave off an attack.
The number of patients using medical cannabis to treat asthma is on the rise, and vaporization is quickly becoming the number one method of delivery for fast acting relief. Smoking cannabis is shown to be effective too, but many steer clear of inhaling smoke, to reduce lung irritation. With all the benefits, cannabis is rapidly gaining respect as a natural remedy within the asthma sufferer community.
Written by Zara Martin, August 2017
Disclaimer: Medicinal Cannabis Dispensary (MCDSA) aims to be a hub of information about medicinal cannabis, healthy living and the latest scientific research. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of MCDSA. Always consult your doctor before starting a new treatment.