Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): Cannabinoids and CBD Research Overview
The third leading cause of death in the United States, COPD is a group of lung diseases that block airflow and make it difficult to breath. Research indicates that cannabis can help patients manage the pulmonary diseases by reducing airway inflammation and causing bronchodilation.
Overview of COPD
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a progressive inflammatory lung disease that obstructs airflow to the lungs and makes it difficult to breathe. In the United States, COPD is most commonly associated with the development of emphysema and chronic bronchitis.
When a person has COPD, less air flows in and out of the airways because either they lose their elastic quality or make more mucus than usual, causing clogging. In chronic bronchitis, the walls of the bronchial tubes become thick and inflamed. In emphysema, the walls between the air sacs can be destroyed, reducing airflow.
COPD is caused by long-term exposure to irritating particulate matter or gases. The number one cause of COPD is cigarette smoking, but other irritants like secondhand smoke, air pollution and workplace exposure to dust and smoke can also pose problems. The disease develops slowly and symptoms get worse over time until even the most basic physical activities, like walking or cooking, became too difficult.
The symptoms associated with COPD typically include the coughing up of large amounts of mucus, shortness of breath, wheezing, and chest tightness. Symptoms often don’t appear until significant damage to the lungs has already occurred. A major cause of disability, COPD is most commonly diagnosed in middle-aged or older adults.
COPD has been shown to increase the risk of respiratory infections, heart problems, lung cancer, high blood pressure and depression.
There is no cure for COPD and as of now, damage to the airways and lungs are irreversible. However, treatments can help control symptoms and reduce the risk of complications and exacerbations. Bronchodilators are medications that can be used to relax the muscles around the airways. Inhaled steroids help reduce airway inflammation.
Findings: Effects of Cannabinoids and CBD on COPD
Studies indicate that cannabis could potentially be therapeutically beneficial for managing acute attacks of airway constriction due to inflammation, thereby acting as a preventative measure for patients with COPD. Cannabis has been shown through numerous studies to have efficacy for reducing inflammation, suggesting it could be effective for helping manage inflamed airways in those with chronic bronchitis4,8,11,17.
Two of the major cannabinoids found in cannabis, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) have shown in several studies to have anti-inflammatory benefits through a variety of mechanisms14. THC and CBD interact with the endocannabinoid system’s cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2) to help the body maintain homeostasis. The activation of CB1 and CB2 receptors has shown to reduce airway inflammation3,6. An animal study concluded that CBD has a potent anti-inflammatory effect and also improves lung function, suggesting it could be a useful therapeutic tool for the treatment of inflammatory lung diseases10. In another study, CBD was shown to have anti-inflammatory effects following acute lung injury9. Studies have also found that terpenes, the aromatic compounds found in cannabis, show anti-inflammatory benefits7.
Some research has also shown that the cannabinoids found in cannabis can have bronchodilatory effects, thereby decreasing resistance in the respiratory airway and increasing airflow to the lungs12. One study found that cannabinoids’ activation of the CB1 receptor inhibits contraction of the smooth muscle surrounding the lungs to dilate the bronchial tubes and further open up the airways7.
It’s important to note that findings in several studies suggest that the smoking of Cannabis may increase the prevalence of acute and chronic bronchitis due to irritants entering the lungs13. Heavy smoking of Cannabis on its own can cause airway obstruction1,16. These findings suggest that patients with COPD should stick with cannabis products that are delivered through methods other than smoking, such as cannabis oils and edibles.
States That Have Approved Medical Cannabis for COPD
While no states have approved medical cannabis specifically for the treatment of COPD, several states will consider approving medical Cannabis for the treatment of other conditions, but require an approval or a recommendation by a physician. These states include: California (any debilitating illness where the medical use of cannabis has been recommended by a physician), Connecticut (other medical conditions may be approved by the Department of Consumer Protection), Massachusetts (other conditions as determined in writing by a qualifying patient’s physician), Nevada (other conditions subject to approval), Oregon (other conditions subject to approval), Rhode Island (other conditions subject to approval), and Washington (any “terminal or debilitating condition”).
In Washington D.C., any condition can be approved for medical cannabis as long as a DC-licensed physician recommends the treatment.
By – echoconnection.org
CBD and COPD/Asthma
North Dakota Grandpa Says CBD Hemp Oil Helps Alleviate Symptoms of COPD
Walter Rodlund, 81, has lived an outdoorsman’s lifestyle in his hometown of Fargo, ND. Neighborhood kids know they can usually find ‘Grandpa’ working in his yard, gardening and weeding. After lung disease put a stop to that, Real Scientific Hemp Oil has helped Walter breathe fresh air again.
In February 2015, Walter spent four days in the emergency room at Mayo Clinic. He was diagnosed with end-stage Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.
“They said there was nothing they could do for me anymore,” Walter said. After that, it was hard for him to get out and about. “It stopped all of my outdoor activities – fishing, hunting, and everything,” he said.
Walter would experience intense pain as his lungs locked up so he couldn’t breathe in or out. He had blood clots in the bottom half of his lungs. “It pretty well tied me down,” he said.
Self-described as a man who usually does what he wants, the worst part of having health restrictions was having to abide by others’ rules instead of his own, Walter said. “They’d holler at me for doing things I like to do and overstepping my bounds,” he said.
After his hospitalization in 2015, Walter’s daughter Vickie introduced him to CBD hemp oil. “In three weeks I could get around easier and had more breathing capacity,” he said.
“My doctor of 26 years said my lungs sound better than they ever did.” Walter’s lung capacity was at 92 percent oxygen before, and now, it is back up to 98 to 100 percent.
Walter said CBD oil has allowed him to regain his active lifestyle– “The last couple days I was in my yard weeding and cleaning,”. Due to lung disease, Walter would have bronchitis two to three times a year. He hasn’t had bronchitis since 2015 when he started taking RSHO. He’s also gone down from 19 prescription medications daily to only three medications.
Walter lives in a close-knit community where neighbors will mow each others’ lawns. Some of them brought him dinners when he was sick. His neighbors’ kids and grandkids know they can stop by anytime for a game of catch.
The first time the neighborhood kids saw him back out in his yard, “They all came running and gave me hugs,” he said.
“These kids are part of the family,” Walter said. “I hope they understand that in this life you do what you have to do and some of what you want to do. Be as good as possible so there’s no trouble in the neighborhood.”
“It’s been two years now, and I’ve gone from more or less invalid, to going where I want to go and doing what I want to do. I credit CBD oil for that,” Walter said. “I can finally get out in the yard in the sunshine and see the country.”
Asthma and Medical Marijuana
Robert Bergman, MD
Could Cannabis Help People With Lung Diseases?
There is much talk in medical circles about the use of medical marijuana (or cannabis) for a variety of chronic illnesses, but could it also benefit those living with chronic lung disease?
MORE: Nine questions to ask your doctor about bronchiectasis
Medical marijuana is currently legal in 23 states in the U.S., as well as Washington, D.C., but its use is a contentious issue with as many people for it as are against it.
How could medical marijuana help those living with chronic lung diseases? According to the Lung Institute, medical marijuana has been found useful in reducing inflammation, improving sleep, easing pain, supporting the immune system, and reducing phlegm. However, one of the big issues when it comes to using cannabis if you have a pulmonary disease, is smoking.
Smoking cannabis is harmful to those with lung diseases as there is generally no filter on the “joint” and people tend to inhale deeper, leaving the smoke in the lungs for much longer than cigarettes or other tobacco products. The American Thoracic Society strongly argues against the smoking of marijuana, citing that it can cause large air sacs (bullae) to form in the lungs which could pop and cause lung collapse, ironically this is more likely to happen to marijuana smokers who are younger rather than older (under 45).
However, there are alternatives to smoking. Many people who don’t already smoke but want to get the benefits of medical marijuana choose to either ingest the product through edible items (such as cookies or brownies) or vapor (where the cannabis is heated at a lower temperature than burning which releases the active ingredients into a steam or vapor which can then be inhaled).
Some people may find that medical marijuana offers temporary relief from some of the symptoms of lung disease, but as it also comes with the side effect of getting high, there is a legal, moral and safety dilemma for many.
MORE: Eight of the most common lung diseases in women
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