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Marijuana and Asthma – Friend or Foe?

marijuana asthma

Asthma is a common affliction with no known cure. You likely know someone who has it, although it’s not a very visible disease, so you might be unaware that you do. Either way, you probably know enough about it to know that smoking and asthma are not a good combination. But what about smoking a joint? And if asthma is a disorder caused by inflammation, couldn’t the anti-inflammatory properties of cannabis be helpful in treating it? We’ll explore some of the latest research surrounding asthma and cannabis use.

Asthma And Inflammation

Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease of the lungs that produces symptoms ranging from unpleasant to life-threatening: tightness in the chest, shortness of breath, coughing, and wheezing can be brought on by irritants, stress, or occasionally unknown triggers. These triggers cause the muscles in the lower airways to constrict, bringing on symptoms that may need to be treated by an inhaler or even warrant a trip to the emergency room in some cases.

Like many diseases affecting humans in modern times, inflammation is at the heart of the problem. It can be treated with corticosteroids, which can help to calm inflamed airways. Corticosteroids are also used to treat some allergies and forms of eczema. Most inhalers contain a combination of drugs including corticosteroids, but that kind of medication is not intended for prolonged use as it does carry some risk of side effects.

Asthma Inflammation

Is Smoking Cannabis Good For Asthmatics?

The unfortunate truth is that any kind of smoke inhalation can be harmful to your lungs, but obviously, asthma makes your lungs more susceptible to irritation caused by smoke. However, a 2012 study indicates that asthmatics who smoke cannabis tend to have better lung function than their peers who don’t. How can this be? According to Dr. Jordan Tischler, a cannabis specialist from Harvard Medical School, “certain cannabinoids found within cannabis — namely tetrahydrocannabinol, more commonly known as THC, may actually act as a bronchodilator, reducing respiratory obstruction and increasing airflow to the lungs.”

Cannabis clearly has the edge over tobacco smoke as it is less harmful to asthmatics, and there even appears to be evidence that cannabinoids could be helpful in treating the symptoms of asthma. However, it is generally recommended that smoking should be avoided for asthmatics, so for those looking to treat some of their asthma symptoms with cannabis, it would be best to consume it another way.

Smoking Cannabis vs Vaping Or Ingesting Edibles

Most people will think of edibles as a straightforward alternative to smoking cannabis, so for asthmatics who want to use cannabis for reasons not related to their asthma – medical or otherwise – this would be a natural choice.

Vaping is another alternative, as you’re inhaling a vapor as opposed to smoke, but here you’ll want to be careful. It’s important to vaporize the whole flower and not an oil to avoid any potential irritation.

The question is, does cannabis help treat specific asthma symptoms when inhaled directly? It’s unlikely that you’ll hear anyone suggest replacing an inhaler with a vape pen or a joint, but again, there are promising clues in the early stages of research that could lead to alternative treatments.

The Anti-Inflammatory Properties Of Marijuana Can Help With Asthma, Just Don’t Smoke It

It might seem counterintuitive since we often think of smoking as the primary method for consuming cannabis, but avoiding smoke is the best way for asthmatics to reap any benefits from cannabis.

Being able to avoid the long-term effects of corticosteroids while still benefiting from an anti-inflammatory medicine is an ideal situation for asthmatics looking for relief, and luckily there seems to be a lot of promise for research in this regard.

Smoking Cannabis Good Asthmatics?


For the time being, research on cannabis use for asthmatics is still in its infancy, but all the signs point to cannabis being beneficial if used in the right way by asthmatics. Many asthmatics may still want to use cannabis to treat other problems, and they still have options for consuming cannabis while avoiding smoking it. Let’s hope that researchers continue to delve into this potentially useful alternative treatment for the millions of people dealing with asthma.

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