COPD makes it hard to breathe. Can CBD help people with this condition? [email protected] Studies report that the use of cannabidiol (CBD) can reduce the symptoms of COPD and improve breathing, such as shortness of breath.
COPD: Can CBD Help?
If you have COPD, you may have been asked a surprising suggestion recently: Have you considered CBD? CBD (short for cannabidiol) is a chemical found in marijuana and other forms of the cannabis plant that’s now available in a wide variety of products, including tincture drops, capsules, candy, cookies, and even coffee. CBD is also sold in liquids that are warmed and inhaled with a special device (known as “vaping”).
Research shows that CBD appears to have various medicinal properties. Now some proponents are touting CBD’s potential to ease symptoms of COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, a condition that affects your airways, making it hard to breathe normally. Can CBD help you catch your breath? As products laced with this cannabis extract pop up in convenience stores and pharmacies in many states (though a few prohibit or place tight restrictions on sales of CBD), you might be tempted to give one a try. Here’s what you should know before you buy.
What Is CBD?
There are about 540 chemicals in cannabis, but the two you may have heard of are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and CBD, which are known as cannabinoids. THC is the stuff in pot that makes you feel “high.” CBD doesn’t have that effect and is generally considered safe.
You can also find CBD in hemp, a related cannabis plant that has very little THC. While you can buy marijuana legally in many states, the federal government still considers it an illicit drug. But CBD derived from hemp can be sold legally in most of the United States, with some exceptions. (Hemp seed oil is also available. It contains some CBD but little THC.)
The FDA has approved a prescription drug made with CBD, Epidiolex, to treat some forms of epilepsy and a condition called tuberous sclerosis complex, which causes growth of benign (noncancerous) tumors. But many people use CBD to self-treat a variety of conditions, including pain, insomnia, anxiety, and others. There isn’t much research on whether CBD helps with these health problems, though some evidence is beginning to build. For example, a handful of early studies in both animals and humans suggests that CBD could help ease anxiety, though more research is needed.
Does CBD Work for COPD?
Doctors don’t know if CBD can relieve symptoms of COPD or any other form of lung disease. “There’s not any research that says CBD is effective for COPD,” says April Hatch, a nurse at Cannabis Care Team in Kansas City, MO. She works with patients interested in cannabis-based therapies.
The belief that CBD might ease COPD symptoms may have sprung from research done decades ago, which showed that smoking pot actually relaxed the airways and improved breathing in healthy people and people with asthma. But that benefit was short-lived, and routine pot smoking is known to promote breathing problems, like coughing and wheezing.
Some lab studies have offered early signs that CBD could alter certain biological changes that cause COPD. With COPD. Your lungs become highly inflamed. The inflammation doesn’t go away and leads to irreversible blockages in your airways. CBD does seem to fight inflammation, at least in studies on animals. And a 2020 study in the Journal of Cannabis Research found that cannabis oil (which contained CBD and THC) appeared to act as an anti-inflammatory when exposed to human lung cells in a laboratory.
“The problem with these kinds of studies is that they only offer hints that CBD might help relieve breathing problems,” says pulmonologist Andrew Martin, MD, chair of pulmonary medicine at Deborah Heart and Lung Center in Browns Mills, NJ. Unfortunately, he says, some experimental medicines that look promising in the lab end up having no effect when given to real people.
And that’s just what seems to have happened when scientists have tested whether CBD improves breathing in people with and without COPD. In a 1984 study, large doses of CBD given to healthy men failed to relax and widen their airways. In a very small 2011 study that included just four people with COPD, treatment with a drug called Sativex, which has THC and CBD, didn’t improve scores on a test that measures breathing. Interestingly, though, after treatment with the medication, they reported being less out of breath.
In another small study from 2018, researchers had people with advanced COPD inhale vaporized cannabis to see if it gave them more lung power when pedaling exercise cycles. It didn’t help, though in fairness the strain of pot used in the study contained only a very small amount of CBD. Once again, the people who inhaled cannabis said they felt less anxious, though that came at a cost, since they also felt high.
If You Decide to Try CBD
If you’re still thinking of giving CBD a try for your COPD symptoms or any other reason, talk to your doctor first. You might be surprised by their response.
“I have no objections to the use of cannabinoids,” says Martin, who doesn’t think they’ll help, but probably won’t hurt — if you use the right products. “As a lung physician, I cannot recommend that you smoke cannabis to get your CBD,” he says. That includes inhaling cannabis or CBD oil with a vaping device, which he worries could be harmful to the lungs.
“If taking CBD makes you feel better and decreases your anxiety,” he says, “use the edible version.”
Hatch suggests you only buy CBD products from a retailer that can provide a document known as a certificate of analysis. This shows the product has been tested in a lab, is free of contaminants, and contains the amount of CBD listed on the label.
Chances are, your local convenience store can’t or won’t provide those documents, so if possible purchase CBD at a medical marijuana dispensary, Hatch says. Research shows that taking 10 milligrams three times a day is an appropriate starting dose, she says, adding that it may take weeks or even months to notice a benefit. If you feel CBD isn’t helping, ask your doctor what you can do to improve your symptoms.
Lung Health Institute: “Can CBD Cure My Lung Disease?”
Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research: “A Cross-Sectional Study of Cannabidiol Users,” “An Update on Safety and Side Effects of Cannabidiol: A Review of Clinical Data and Relevant Animal Studies.”
CDC: “What is COPD?”
National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health: “Cannabis (Marijuana) and Cannabinoids: What You Need To Know.”
ProCon.org: “States with Legal Cannabidiol (CBD).”
Iranian Journal of Psychiatry: “Chemistry, Metabolism, and Toxicology of Cannabis: Clinical Implications.”
Biomolecules: “Cannabidiol: A Potential New Alternative for the Treatment of Anxiety, Depression, and Psychotic Disorders.”
National Conference of State Legislatures: “State Medical Marijuana Laws.”
FDA: “FDA Regulation of Cannabis and Cannabis-Derived Products, Including Cannabidiol (CBD).”
Congressional Research Service: “Defining Hemp: A Fact Sheet.”
April Hatch, RN, Cannabis Care Team, Kansas City, MO.
Annals of American Thoracic Society: “Effect of Vaporized Cannabis on Exertional Breathlessness and
Exercise Endurance in Advanced Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.”
Archives of Internal Medicine: “Effects of Marijuana Smoking on Pulmonary Function and Respiratory Complications: A Systematic Review.”
Clinical And Translational Medicine: “Inflammation in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and its role in cardiovascular disease and lung cancer.”
Cell Death & Disease: “Cannabidiol (CBD): a killer for inflammatory rheumatoid arthritis synovial fibroblasts.”
Journal of Cannabis Research: “ Effects of cannabis oil extract on immune response gene expression in human small airway epithelial cells (HSAEpC): implications for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).”
Andrew Martin, MD, chair of pulmonary medicine, Deborah Heart and Lung Center, Browns Mills, NJ.
Chronic Respiratory Disease: “Cannabinoid effects on ventilation and breathlessness: A pilot study of efficacy and safety.”
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Does CBD Help Shortness of Breath?
Studies report that the use of cannabidiol (CBD) can reduce the symptoms of COPD and improve breathing, such as shortness of breath.
A study based on the neurophysiology of dyspnea (difficulty breathing) and the location of cannabinoid receptors in the central nervous system (CNS) states that cannabinoids will alleviate the unpleasantness of breathlessness in people without causing respiratory depression.
Patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) may need a long and gradual therapy depending on specific characteristics. During the early stages of COPD, many individuals utilize oxygen treatment to delay the disease’s progression. In more severe situations, surgical procedures, such as lung transplants, may be required.
Studies have reported that the use of cannabidiol (CBD) has reduced the symptoms of COPD and improved breathing. CBD has been examined for its anti-inflammatory properties and effectiveness as a bronchodilator (causes widening of airways for better breathing). Both outcomes suggest that CBD may help relieve some of the symptoms of COPD. More studies, however, are needed to support the effect of CBD on the shortness of breath.
2 health benefits of CBD
- Cannabidiol (CBD) has been found in several recent studies to have considerable bronchodilatory activities. According to scientists, CBD can widen the airways, decreasing resistance and increasing airflow into the lungs.
- When researchers were looking for novel asthma medicines, they looked at these qualities. CBD’s bronchodilatory actions, however, may provide similar alleviation to those suffering from acute chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) symptoms.
- CBD may help COPD patients avoid low levels of oxygen in the blood and shortness of breath by increasing airways. This, in turn, may decrease the progression of the disease and lessen the severity of its negative effects.
- Anti-inflammatory properties
- Since 2009, medical experts have been investigating CBD’s powerful anti-inflammatory capabilities. In a 2014 study, CBD was shown to enhance lung function and decrease inflammation in animal studies.
- According to the researchers in the 2014 study, the results reported that cannabidiol can become a viable therapeutic tool for the attenuation and treatment of inflammatory lung illnesses in the future, implying that CBD might be an effective therapy for COPD.
What is the impact of CBD in cannabis on asthma?
As previously stated, people with asthma should avoid inhaling cannabis by smoking or vaping.
Safety is vital and comes first for anybody who uses cannabis, especially those with chronic illnesses. Determine the safest technique of consuming cannabis, as well as the lowest feasible amount that gives the best relief, with the doctor.
Cannabis should be used carefully. If one feels too high, they should try sleeping it off or waiting it out. Do not overdo it. Although cannabis has medical use, it can have negative side effects.
Cannabis contains more tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and fewer cannabidiols (CBD), whereas hemp contains more CBD and less THC. However, CBD in both works the same and has the same effects on the body.
What is CBD?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the hundreds of molecules called cannabinoids present in the cannabis plant. It is now accessible in a broad range of products, including tincture drops, capsules, chocolates, pastries, and even coffee. CBD is available in liquid forms, which are warmed and inhaled using a specific apparatus (a process called “vaping”).
Marijuana and hemp are the same species of cannabis plants, but the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 has made hemp lawful on the federal level because it contains less than 0.3 percent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), whereas marijuana contains more than 0.3 percent of THC. CBD can be extracted from hemp, which means its potential health advantages may now be researched more thoroughly.
CBD appears to offer a variety of therapeutic benefits according to research. Some supporters are now praising CBD’s ability to alleviate symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a disorder that damages the airways and makes it difficult to breathe regularly.
Because of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, many CBD-containing products have emerged, and consumers may now take CBD in a variety of ways, such as: