Asthma is a common condition that causes swelling of the airways that carry air from the mouth and nose to the lungs. There is no known cure for the condition, and the number of Americans with it is increasing. Over 25 million of us now have asthma; a total that equates to 8.4% of children and 7.7% of adults. An estimated 11 million asthma sufferers report having an asthma attack each year.
It is also a condition that can prove deadly. In 2017, over 3,500 Americans died from asthma. Tragically, a significant proportion of these fatalities could have been avoided with the right treatment and care.
It may not be classed as a ‘debilitating condition,’ but asthma can have severe ramifications in a person’s day-to-day life.
In recent years, researchers have looked into possible relationships between marijuana and asthma. While data is limited, one thing is pretty clear; if you have asthma, it is probably not a good idea to smoke cannabis !
However, there are other methods of consumption that one can opt for in place of smoking. In this article, in addition to looking at whether cannabis can actually do anything positive for asthmatic conditions, we outline five classic marijuana strains that asthma sufferers may enjoy (as long as they’re not smoking or inhaling them).
What Is Asthma?
Asthma is a chronic condition that involves inflammation of the air passages that lead to the temporary narrowing of airways that carry oxygen to your lungs. It is a very serious condition that leads to approximately two million hospital visits per year in the United States alone.
Here are the three well-known features of asthma.
1 – Obstruction of Airways
When we breathe normally, the bands of muscle around the airways are relaxed which allows air to move easily. With asthma, things such as environmental triggers, colds, and other allergens can tighten the bands of muscle around the airways, which prevents air from moving freely.
As a consequence, there’s shortness of breath, and as the air moves through the tightened airways, it causes a wheezing sound.
2 – Inflammation
Asthma sufferers have swollen and red bronchial tubes.
3 – Airway Irritability
With asthma, airways are incredibly sensitive and can overreact and narrow when faced with triggers such as fumes, dust, and pollen.
What Are the Symptoms of Asthma?
There are various asthma symptoms including:
- Frequent coughing spells which may happen when laughing or exercising.
- Less energy during activities or having to pause to catch your breath.
- Tightening or pain in your chest.
- A feeling of weakness or tiredness.
There are numerous ways that asthma is triggered. Due to sensitive airways, contact with triggers cause symptoms to get worse. These triggers can include:
- Changes in temperature and/or humidity.
- Strong emotions such as laughing, crying or stress.
- Inhalation of smoke
- Certain medications such as aspirin
- Allergens such as pollen, dust mites, and mold spores
- Infections such as cold or flu
It is also common to have asthma attacks which consist of a sudden worsening of symptoms. During an asthma attack, airways swell up, tighten, and can fill with mucus. Symptoms of asthma attacks include:
- A coughing fit
- Trouble breathing
- Chest pressure, pain or tightness
What Are the Traditional Remedies for Asthma (Not Cannabis Related)?
Unfortunately, asthma is a long-term condition, and at present, there is no permanent cure. When it comes to treatment, the goal is to control the condition which involves:
- Preventing chronic issues such as coughing fits.
- Reducing reliance on quick-relief medication.
- Enabling you to sleep through the night and maintaining your existing activity level.
- Preventing serious asthma attacks that require immediate medical attention.
Asthma management involves discovering your triggers and avoiding them. In terms of medication, patients may be prescribed a variety of inhaled medications.
Medical Research on Marijuana for Asthma
Did you know that the ancient Egyptians used cannabis to treat various conditions, including possibly asthma? Legendary French writer, Marcel Proust (1871 -1922) used cannabis to manage his asthmatic symptoms – so much so that he referred to his joints as ‘anti-asthma’ cigarettes. In the 1920s, when it was still legal in many states, physicians often prescribed cannabis concoctions as a cough medication.
Then, prohibition kicked in and the tobacco industry swelled to an extraordinary level. Once the link between cigarettes and lung cancer was uncovered, all forms of smoking (including cannabis) were labeled as extremely dangerous.
In the modern era, studies on the benefits of marijuana for asthma sufferers are virtually non-existent. We do know, however, that some molecular variations of THC can produce a bronchodilatory effect. Furthermore, it is worth mentioning that asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease, and cannabis is known for its anti-inflammatory effects.
CARDIA Study Suggests Improved Lung Functioning Among Mild Cannabis Users
A long-term study supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) looked at roughly 5,000 black and white males and females aged 18-30 over the span of 29 years. It was called the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study, and involved testing the lung function of volunteers, beginning in 1985.
It was praised as a ‘well-conducted study’ and included marijuana and tobacco cigarette smokers. The cannabis users smoked up to three times a month on average, while the tobacco users smoked an average of eight cigarettes a day.
The tobacco smokers showed an expected drop in lung function, but marijuana smoke appeared to have unexpectedly positive effects.
However, it is crucial to note that the improvement in lung function was NOT seen among heavy marijuana users. Those who smoked cannabis 20+ times a month, for example, showed FEV1 levels (the amount of air you breathe out in the initial second after you take the deepest breath you can take) similar to those found in non-users.
Dr. Stefan Kertesz, one of the lead organizers of the study, suggested that “typical amounts of marijuana use among Americans are occasional or low levels. From the standpoint of being a scientist, these data suggest that low and moderate range use of marijuana do not do long-term harm [to lung functioning].”
A Better Way for Asthma Sufferers to Use Marijuana
Based on the information above, it may seem as if there is some merit in using marijuana to help treat asthma. Still, it would be very unwise to light up a joint or take a hit from a bong if you have asthma. In fact, whether you’re inhaling marijuana or tobacco, the resulting combustion is not good for your lungs – asthmatic or otherwise.
Even second-hand smoke can set off an asthma attack, so it shouldn’t be hard to understand why smoking for asthma is a bad idea. In some circles, vaporizers are marketed as being a safer and more convenient method of using cannabis. While it may be true that there is less irritation on the lungs (and possibly fewer carcinogens released than through combustion), there is zero evidence suggesting that vaping marijuana for asthma is safe.
Edibles, on the other hand, could potentially be a suitable option (but don’t take that as medical advice). Edibles are metabolized in the digestive system and usually take at least 30 minutes to take effect. While users often enjoy longer and stronger highs from an edible, it can be more difficult to gauge how strong the effects are going to be.
On kind of a side note, scientists in Israel are working on creating something called a cannabis inhaler. This exciting product is the result of an ongoing collaboration between Rafa Pharmaceuticals and Panaxia Pharmaceuticals. The inhaler has an attached vaporizer to which you can add a measured dose of cannabis extract. The extract will include a precisely measured dose of active ingredients, though it is unclear whether the inhaler will have any implication for use among asthma sufferers.
All in all, we reiterate the notion that smoking weed with asthma is a thoroughly bad idea. If you have asthma and want to consume cannabis, something like an oil extract or an edible may be a better idea. Still, it is important to remember that ALL cannabis use is done under your own discretion, and/or with the guidance of your medical marijuana doctor.
In any case, here are five classic marijuana strains that are sometimes able to be found in edible form. And if not edibles, they may be able to be found in the form of an oil extract that contains the specific terpene profile of the strain. Once again, we urge users not to use things like joints, blunts, bongs, or even vaporizers.
No Such Thing as the ‘Best Marijuana Strains for Asthma,’ But Here Are a Few General Classics You Might Enjoy
1 – Afghan Kush
Seeds from this pure indica strain were created in the Netherlands, and it is known for its relaxing effects. Occasionally known as Afghan OG, it contains an impressive 6% CBD to go along with its 21% THC. It originated in the Hindu Kush mountains, and it is best if you can get the original, pure Afghan Kush.
Despite its CBD content, it is a potent strain and should be used sensibly. It is an excellent option if you suffer from stress as it provides you with a ‘feel good’ vibe. Afghan Kush is a smooth smoke, and its effects can creep up on you slowly. Before you realize what is happening, you feel happy and relaxed.
The fruity taste is pleasant, and as it doesn’t provide a harsh aftertaste. If your condition causes you anxiety, you won’t feel it once the high kicks in. Afghan Kush provides users with a feeling of pure bliss that takes your mind off your troubles. It also contains common cannabis terpenes like humulene and caryophyllene.
2 – Charlotte’s Web
This marijuana strain made its name by helping a girl named Charlotte Figi, who had Dravet’s syndrome. Charlotte went from having hundreds of seizures to just a couple per month after using Charlotte’s Web. It was developed by the Stanley Brothers and is known for having less than 1% THC and up to 17% CBD.
It is a sativa-dominant hybrid which provides no psychedelic effects. Those who use the Charlotte’s Web strain say it provides them with an overall improvement in mood; they also report feeling focused and energized.
The very high CBD levels can also help to combat inflammation and perhaps relieve pain. For many parents, it is the cannabis strain of choice. Users may enjoy the analgesic effects, coupled with the feeling of relaxation. Charlotte’s Web is also commonly used to treat depression, anxiety, and stress.
3 – Amnesia Haze
Amnesia Haze is known for its earthy citrus scent and is a cross of multiple strains including those with Thai, Jamaican, and Cambodian genetics. It won first prize in the 2004 Cannabis Cup, and also won the top prize in the 2012 Sativa Cup.
Amnesia Haze is a strongly sativa-dominant hybrid with a CBD level of 1% and a high THC content of 21%. It has been described as providing a fantastic feeling of happiness. Users often feel euphoric and find it difficult to contain their delight. As well as getting a fit of giggles, this strain will may help you to feel uplifted and relaxed.
Users also claim this strain provides them with an energy boost and is a prime example of a sociable strain. If you are feeling depressed or have a mood disorder, Amnesia Haze can lift your spirits, and give you a blast of energy.
4 – Cheese
This is a classic indica-dominant strain that’s a cross of an Afghani indica and Skunk #1. Aside from a CBD content of up to 1%, Cheese also contains 14-20% THC. As well as providing users with a potent high, this strain is famous for its pungent cheesy odor which completely fills a room.
When you smoke this marijuana strain, which by most accounts was created in the 1980s, you will usually feel relaxed and calm after just a couple of tokes. Soon enough, you’ll find it hard to suppress your smile as you feel happy and uplifted. It is a powerful mood booster, and could even help you become inspired.
The indica effects begin to take hold after a while and provide you with a body high that could result in couch lock. If you have body pains, Cheese could help soothe you. Incidentally, make sure you have snacks available because this cannabis often causes a severe case of the munchies.
5 – Cannatonic
This strain is a supreme example of high CBD and THC levels working well together. It is a cross of G13 Haze and MK Ultra, and contains up to 12% CBD to go along with a THC level that occasionally hits 15%. It is one of the most popular balanced hybrids on the market, and with good reason.
The high you’ll feel is mellow and relaxed. If you are feeling stressed out, Cannatonic lightens your mental load. Users report feeling optimistic and relaxed when this strain kicks in. You may feel uplifted, but there is no sudden burst of energy. Instead, the high is a calm and soothing one that brings a smile to the face.
Cannatonic is a superstar in the medical marijuana world, and it is used to treat a range of conditions.
Final Thoughts on the Discussion of Marijuana Treatment for Asthma
Some have argued in the past that marijuana is an effective treatment for asthma because it has anti-inflammatory properties and could help open the bronchial tubes. While there is evidence out there to support both of these notions, much more research is required in order to make the claim that marijuana can treat asthma or improve an asthmatic condition.
Much more research is required in order to make the claim that marijuana can treat asthma or improve an asthmatic condition.
And of course, we certainly don’t recommend smoking in any form if you have asthma. And while vaporizing cannabis may result in less coughing, there is still virtually no data on its long-term respiratory health effects.
All things considered, edibles and oils are arguably the best way to consume cannabis if you have asthma. They make take a little longer to work, but they’re almost certainly not as harmful to the lungs as smoke (or vapor) inhalation.