What Is Asthma?
Asthma is a series of bronchospasms and increased mucous production in the lung airways. Asthma can be triggered by many different stimuli, ranging from organic materials to physical activity to respiratory infections. When asthma is triggered, it leads to difficulty breathing—asthma sufferers often carry an inhaler to ease their symptoms. Asthma often causes anxiety as sufferers struggle to breathe and the increased anxiety worsens the asthma symptoms. This creates a problematic cycle, which can be made worse by some inhalers because of the stimulants they contain.
How Can Cannabis Help Ease Symptoms of Asthma?
Cannabidiol, or CBD, may be helpful in achieving what an inhaler can while also decreasing anxiety. A 2015 study by Labratório de Fisiopathologia Experimental in Brazil found that CBD could be helpful in reducing mucous production associated with asthma. The study was conducted on rats that were injected with chicken ovalbumin, which produces a response similar to the asthma seen in humans. Half of the rats injected with the ovalbumin were then injected with CBD while one group of rats was injected with neither.
Blood samples were obtained from the rats to measure cytokines, which are small proteins released by cells that are involved in cell communication and behaviour. The rats that had been injected with CBD experienced a reduction in the amount of two kinds of cytokines. This decrease in cytokines suggests that CBD may reduce the production of mucous that’s associated with asthma.
The study also noted the immunosuppressive and anti-inflammatory properties of CBD, which could also benefit patients with asthma. This is a good first look at how CBD may help patients with asthma. That said, clinical trials are needed to ascertain if what the researchers found in rats is something that applies to humans as well.
Anecdotal Study Findings Point to CBD’s Anti-Inflammatory Properties
Dr. Allan Frankel at Green Bridge Medical Center conducted an anecdotal study using CBD-rich tincture to monitor how it affected patients ability to breathe. Dr. Frankel measured the forced expiatory volume at one second (when the patient was breathing as hard as they can), forced vital capacity (the amount of air a patient could blow out after taking a deep breath), and peak expiratory flow rate at any point during exhalation both before and after cannabis administration.
Dr. Frankel administered a three-drop dose of tincture to asthma patients sublingually, which led to a doubling of forced expiratory capacity and peak expiratory flow rate. These increases were considered to be a great response to an inhaler for asthma, especially without an anxiety increase. CBD is known to reduce inflammation, which could explain why it may be especially helpful in relaxing the bronchiolar muscles during an asthmatic attack.
Could CBD Even Decrease Anxiety?
CBD may have the ability to go beyond just helping with asthma symptoms and could even decrease anxiety in patients who are suffering from an asthmatic spasm. A study published in Neuropsychopharmacology from 2011 showed that CBD helped decrease anxiety in patients with social anxiety disorder. Twenty-four patients with social anxiety disorder, who had never been treated, received 600 mg of CBD or a placebo. There was also an added control group of 12 people without social anxiety disorder who took part in the test.
Personal evaluations and physiological measures, such as blood pressure, heart rate and skin conductance, were monitored in each individual during a public speaking test. Patients who had taken CBD had greatly reduced anxiety and cognitive impairment compared to the group who had taken the placebo. This study could provide insight into how CBD could reduce the anxiety in patients with asthma.
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