How Medical Marijuana Can Help Asthmatics
With the legalization of marijuana is spreading across the country, the door has opened up for researchers to study its medicinal uses in a wide variety of situations. One of those uses is as a treatment for those who suffer from asthma. The drug has long been believed to be very effective in helping asthmatics to breathe easier, but it has only been in recent studies that they have been able to determine exactly why.
According to a new study that was recently published in the British Journal of Pharmacology, marijuana seems to have the same effect on the airways as many of the medications often prescribed to treat asthma. According to Leaf Science, "Using samples of human lung tissue, French researchers found that THC could block muscle contractions caused by a signaling molecule called acetycholine. Acetycholine is responsible for maintaining muscle tone of the airways and also contributed to contractions in asthma attacks."
It seems that THC is able to block the same molecule but not in the same way. It actually prevents the acetycholine from releasing.
Methods of Delivery
The first studies done Dr. Donald Tashkin, a medical professor at UCLA, published a report on using THC to treat asthma back in 1973. They reported that not only was it successful in blocking the molecule but it was also able to reverse induced asthma in much the same was as a therapeutic bronchidilator would; this lead to more studies of various ways to deliver THC to the patients.
The result was not how effective THC had been in treating asthma but in what form should the drug be delivered to the patients. While logically, it was believed that using THC in an inhaler would dispense the drug directly to the lungs, they discovered this form of delivery was not as effective as other medications. It seems that the THC molecule was too large and caused excess coughing in many patients.
They next tried to dispense the medication orally in the form of a pill but found that it took too long for the drug to reach the airway, and by the time it reached its destination, much of its potency was gone.
Initially, researchers felt that smoking THC was not a wise choice for delivering a drug to a patient who was already suffering from lung problems. It was not the THC that presented problems as much as it was the other noxious components in marijuana that would irritate the respiratory system causing inflammation in the central airways.
Those studies were done back in the 70s before the vaporizer came on the scene. With the use of the vaporizer, asthmatics can inhale the drug directly into the lungs without the other components that are found in marijuana. As they explain in MedicalJane, "The inhalation of marijuana smoke is unnecessary for the experience of its potential benefits – even when an inhalation delivery method is best for an individual patient and their unique symptoms, vaporization is a safer and similarly effective option. If you currently smoke cannabis, switching to vaporization is a healthier option."
Simply by heating the drug to release the vapors, a patient can get the asthma relief they need and avoid the toxins at the same time.
It is clear that THC has been very effective in helping asthmatics to get relief from the chronic chest pains that result from the narrowing of the airways leading to the lungs. While all three methods of delivering the drug are available, it appears that when it comes to asthma, vaping is the most effective.
But it seems that medical marijuana can do much more than open up the airways for better breathing for those who suffer from asthma. It is also an anti-inflammatory drug that can help keep inflammation from blocking the airway as well as a pain killer and muscle relaxer. This will help them to avoid getting panic attacks when they have an asthma flare up. THC can keep them calm when an attack comes on and reduces the risk of fear consuming them while they're trying to get through an attack.
While there is still much controversy over the legalization of medical marijuana, the studies on its successes have been very encouraging. As they report at We Know Why, "Cannabis as a treatment for asthma is proving itself to not only be more effective but also a safer and more cost saving method than the normal sprays that are prescribed to people. … Tests all showed that there was solid reasons to consider cannabis as a treatment and today we are starting to implement these findings to help people who are looking for relief from this disease."
Chances are the debate will continue to rage on for many more years to come about the use of medical marijuana to treat asthma. However, with the legalization of the drug in so many states now, it may be a moot point. For those who suffer from this disease, relief is probably the only thing they're thinking about and now it's within the reach of anyone who wants it.