For those of you who have never heard of Cystic Fibrosis, it’s a life-threatening genetic disease, and while there is no cure, cannabis has been known to help some patients treat the symptoms and increase the overall quality of life on a generalized scale. There is much talk about medical marijuana and the variety of chronic illnesses that it can treat, and at present, medical cannabis is legal in 23 States throughout America. However, its use remains a contentious issue, with many people standing firmly against it.
According to the Lung Institute, medical cannabis has been found to be effective in reducing inflammation, easing pain, improving sleep, reducing phlegm, and supporting the immune system. While research into the use of cannabis to treat Cystic Fibrosis is limited, this natural treatment option shows much promise in treating some of the effects of the disease. In this article, we will discuss what Cystic Fibrosis is, what some of the conventional treatment options are, and what studies have been published with regard to cannabis and Cystic Fibrosis. And of course, we’ll dish out five key strains that just might work to help treat or reduce some of the onset symptoms of this disease.
[However, before we continue it is important to point out that NO form of cannabis has been approved as a viable form of medicine by the FDA. Thus, it cannot legally be labeled as a medical treatment option for any condition. Moreover, due to each individual’s unique chemical makeup, everyone has a different experience with cannabis – what works for one person, may prove entirely ineffective for another].
What is Cystic Fibrosis (CF)?
Cystic Fibrosis is a genetic condition that is affecting more than 30,000 people in the United States today. However, people who suffer from the disease are born with it – it is not something that you can develop or contract later on in life. It’s estimated that one in 25 people carries the faulty gene that causes CF, and most people who carry it usually do so without ever even knowing. On a molecular level, the gene that is affected by CF is one that controls the movement of water and salt in and out of cells.
As such, people who suffer from Cystic Fibrosis experience a build-up of thick, sticky mucus on the lungs, digestive system, and other organs. This causes a wide range of difficult symptoms that affect the entire body. Let’s take a look at the two of the most common ones:
- Lungs: A buildup of mucus in the lungs causes chronic infections which means that people with CF struggle with reduced lung function. This leaves them having to take hours out of each day to do physiotherapy and take nebulizer treatments. The sudden worsening of health can lead to frequent hospitalization, often for weeks at a time.
- Digestive and endocrine systems: CF can cause the pancreas to get blocked with mucus, and when this happens, the enzymes required for digesting food can’t reach the stomach. as such, people with this disease often need to take more than 50 tablets a day to help digest food and keep respiratory problems in check.
Some of the effects of the respiratory system as a result of CF can include sinus infection, congestion, breathlessness, stuffy nose, pneumonia, sinus pain, wheezing, mucus-filled cough, frequent lung infections, and the inability to tolerate exercise.
When it comes to the digestive symptoms, those with this disease often suffer from symptoms including nausea, constipation, poor growth, lack of appetite, intestinal blockage, and abdominal pain.
There are also additional problems caused by CF. For instance, men with the disease are usually infertile, and pregnancy can put a lot of stress on the body of a woman who suffers from the condition. Other complications include bone disease, bowel obstructions, and CF-related diabetes, amongst other things.
To be diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis, you must have inherited two faulty copies of a particular gene – one from each parent. Since there are many different gene mutations that cause CF, people who suffer from the disease can have very different symptoms, depending on the two genes that they carry. Also, keep in mind that while people with CF may look healthy on the outside, they’re each fighting a daily battle on the inside with a range of very serious symptoms.
Conventional Treatment for Cystic Fibrosis
As we mentioned previously, there is currently no cure for Cystic Fibrosis. Medical professionals tend to treat the symptoms of CF on a case-by-case basis, as the effects often differ from one person to the next. Treatment aims to relieve the symptoms and reduce any complications that may occur as a result of this disease. Moreover, doctors look to prevent and treat intestinal blockages and infections, as well as loosen and remove mucus from the lungs. Good nutrition is a vital part of the treatment plan.
Also, since there are various symptoms associated with Cystic Fibrosis, there are a number of different treatment methods, some of which we will take a closer look at below.
Chest physical therapy
The loosening up of mucus in the lungs makes it easier to cough up and expel from the body. Chest physical therapy helps to loosen mucus, and usually, this will be done one to four times a day. One of the common techniques is to clap with cupped hands on the front and back of the chest. There are also breathing techniques that can be used to loosen mucus.
Medical professionals might recommend a long-term program that could improve lung function and overall well-being. Pulmonary rehabilitation is typically done on an outpatient basis and might include physical exercise, counseling and support, breathing techniques to loosen mucus, nutritional counseling, and education about your condition.
Surgical and other procedures
There are also a few invasive and non-invasive procedures that might be done to treat this condition:
- Feeding tubes: Because CF interferes with digestion, you can’t absorb nutrients from food very well. This is why doctors might suggest using a feeding tube while you sleep, to deliver extra nutrition.
- Nasal polyp removal: This refers to surgery to remove nasal polyps that obstruct breathing
- Bowel surgery: If your bowel becomes blocked, you may need surgery to remove the obstruction(s). When a section of the bowel folds in on itself (known as intussusception), you may also require surgical repair.
- Lung transplant: In severe cases, if you have problems breathing, increased resistance to antibiotics, or life-threatening lung complications, a lung transplant may be necessary.
- Oxygen therapy: If you experience a decline in blood oxygen levels, you may need to breathe pure oxygen to prevent high blood pressure in the lungs.
Studies on Cannabis and Cystic Fibrosis
It seems that very few medical scientists have delved into research concerning cannabis and Cystic Fibrosis. Hopefully, this will change with the methods of medical cannabis delivery and synthetic derivatives of marijuana being developed more frequently than in previous years.
Although there is a lack of research done in this area, there are some studies that have been conducted. For example there was a study done by Esther Fride in 2002 which was the first and only report ever that researched the link between marijuana as a potential medicine for Cystic Fibrosis. Her study concluded that cannabis could potentially alleviate many of the onset symptoms that are associated with CF.
One of the symptoms that was noted to perhaps be treatable was decreased appetite. Cannabis has been known for years to stimulate appetite and promote food intake, and has thus been exploited to treat cancer and AIDS patients who suffer from wasting disease. THC is the cannabinoid thought to be effective in treating these conditions.
Moreover, endocannabinoids are found in maternal milk, and studies show that these are critical for ingestion as well as the survival of newborns, because blocking CB1 receptors can potentially result in death from malnutrition. Lack of appetite which results in malnutrition is a contributing factor to the mortality of CF patients, and this is why it has been proposed to administer THC to those suffering from the disease. It is also believed that the THC will alleviate malnutrition, and therefore help to prevent chronic wasting in CF patients.
Furthermore, recent findings have shown that a lipid imbalance may be one of the primary factors in the etiology of Cystic Fibrosis, and that defective CFTR (CF transmembrane conductor regulator), which characterizes the CF condition, is responsible for the disregulation. The fatty acid derivatives are endocannabinoids, and as such, it is thought that the CFTR gene product may also modulate endocannabinoid production through regulation of fatty acid biosynthesis. According to this theory, CF patients display decreased levels of endocannabinoids – by elevating these levels, it is projected that symptoms may improve.
Lastly, several of the physiological mechanisms of cannabinoids and endocannabinoids coincide with the pathology of CF. Therefore it is thought that the potential benefits from THC treatment will include anti-inflammatory, antiemetic, anti-diarrheal, and hypoalgesic effects, along with appetite stimulation.
5 Best Cannabis Strains for Cystic Fibrosis
[As mentioned earlier, it is important to understand that cannabis is not an FDA-recognized medicine or treatment option for cystic fibrosis, or for any related symptoms. If you live in a state where medical marijuana is illegal, be advised that consuming marijuana may result in criminal penalties].
1. Silver Haze
Silver Haze was the first seed strain to deliver the full-strength haze experience in a fast and compact form. A combination of Haze and the non-dominant indica variety Northern Lights, SH has a strong but clear-headed sativa effect. Its name derives from the large number of shiny THC glands (trichomes) that cover the buds.
With its high THC content, Silver Haze packs a punch that will give you a long-lasting body high. Medical cannabis users often appreciate the high THC content of this strain, as it contains between 20 – 24% THC on average – all but ensuring that any tension or stress will float away.
Silver Haze is also one of the best strains for anyone who suffers from a loss of appetite, as it kickstarts the hunger hormones without leaving you stuck on the couch. As we have discussed above, lack of appetite is one of the major symptoms associated with Cystic Fibrosis.
This is another strain that is praised for its high THC content. It’s a three-way cross between an Indica Afghani, Sativa Thai, and Purple Thai variant. Blueberry is renowned for its unmistakable fresh blueberry aroma and flavor that has made it a favorite among weed enthusiasts.
The THC content of Blueberry ranges between 15% and 24%, which is likely the reason some people have had success treating symptoms consistent with CF. It leaves users feeling nice and relaxed, with a lasting feeling of peace and euphoria.
While appealing flavors and a great look are important, though, this strain has achieved much hype for its potent medical benefits. Along with some incredible results for treating anxiety, the strong bodily-relaxation of Blueberry also can provide relief from pain, rigidity, and muscle spasms.
3. Blue Blood
A cross between Blueberry and OG Kush, Blue blood can have a THC content of up to 20%. It carries the potent legacy of Blueberry and adds a sweet berry flavor to its diesel and pine undertones. Blue Blood users have described the high as one that is a slow building, relaxing body high that begins in the neck and head and trickles down the body from there. This is accompanied by euphoric tendencies and a high level of pain relief. For these reasons, Blue Blood has been known in the past to help patients with chronic pain, muscle spasms, insomnia, and MS.
It’s also rated as one of the top strains used to treat digestive problems, which is why it’s recommended to treat Cystic Fibrosis. Although this is quite a potent strain, it has a fairly high CBD content. Therefore, while it does offer a rewarding head and body high, it doesn’t leave the user feeling too sedated.
4. Black Widow
The name of this strain says it all – with THC levels that can go above 24%, Black Widow is on a very short list of the strongest cannabis strains of all time. It’s only recommended for patients who have experience using cannabis because it is so intense that it could trigger panic attacks and THC-induced paranoia. However, for those who can tolerate it, this is an incredible strain to treat physical pain, muscle spasms, depression, headaches, and everyday stress.
It has also shown promise in inducing hunger in patients with wasting syndrome, which is one of the big problems when it comes to CF. It’s a hybrid strain that has a great balance of both Indica and Sativa genetics, and it delivers a forceful cerebral high with a fast onset that is highly intense and blissful, followed by laziness and couch lock. It’s best for evening and night time use because of its sedative effects.
Tangerine is a sativa-dominant hybrid with a fruity aroma and mango-like tropical flavors. It offers a euphoric and positive buzz while providing relief from stomach pain, headaches, and anxiety. Stomach pain is often a symptom of Cystic Fibrosis, which is why this strain may have potential when it comes to treating the condition.
Users state that the tangerine high is just as pleasant as the taste, and is perfect for daytime use when you are in need of some energy. You will be hit by a strong euphoric onset that initially leaves you feeling incredibly energized, followed by a deep, happy relaxation through the body and mind that isn’t sedative, but rather pain and tension-reducing.
Because of its powerful effects, its high average CBD level of 2% and its THC level of up to 18%, this is a great strain for treating chronic pain, inflammation, depression, and muscle spasms.
Final Thoughts on the Best Cannabis Strains for Cystic Fibrosis
Cystic Fibrosis is a terrible disease, but thankfully there are some cannabis strains that could potentially help to treat some of the symptoms. Since it is the THC that is thought to be the most effective cannabinoid in treating CF, it’s the high THC cannabis strains that have been known to be the most effective in treating this condition.
Of course, very little research has been done when it comes to Cystic Fibrosis and medical marijuana, but we can only hope that with the ongoing support behind the legalization of cannabis across the United States, further research will be done.