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You are here: Home > FAQ > Asthma: How should cannabis or THC be taken to treat asthma?

Asthma: How should cannabis or THC be taken to treat asthma?

British Medical Association

Acute doses of cannabis and THC exert a definitive bronchodilator effect on the small airways of the lungs. The mechanism of this effect is not known, but it appears to be different from that of other drugs used at present as bronchodilators for asthma. (…) However, there have been very few studies on the bronchodilator effects of cannabinoids in asthmatic patients. All of these were studies carried out in the 1970s. Tashkin et al. studied 14 asthmatic volunteers and compared smoked cannabis (2%THC), oral THC (15mg) and the drug isoprenaline (0.5%). They found that smoked cannabis and oral THC produced significant bronchodilatation of at least two hours duration. The effect of smoked cannabis was nearly equivalent to the clinical dose of isoprenaline. Smoked cannabis was also capable of reversing experimentally induced bronchospasm in three asthmatic subjects. (…) Williams et al. compared a THC aerosol containing 0.2 mg THC with a salbutamol aerosol (0.1 mg) in 10 asthmatic subjects. Both drugs significantly improved respiratory function. The onset of effect was more rapid with salbutamol, but the effects of both drugs were equivalent at one hour. Tashkin et al. compared several doses of THC aerosol (5-20mg) with a standard dose of isoprenaline in 11 normal volunteers and five asthmatic subjects. In the normal subjects and three of the asthmatics, the bronchodilator effect of THC was less than that of isoprenaline after five minutes, but significantly greater after one to three hours.
(Please note: This text has been taken from a scientific article. Some sentences have been changed to improve understandability.)
British Medical Association: Therapeutic Uses of Cannabis. Amsterdam: Harwood Academic Publishers, 1997.

Franjo Grotenhermen

The treatment of asthma includes the use of anti-inflammatory drugs (corticosteroids) and bronchodilators. THC and cannabis are bronchodilators and may also exert some anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic action. Cannabis smoke contains combustion products qualitatively similar to those found in tobacco smoke, among them several carcinogens that may damage the mucosa. The inhalation of these combustion products should be avoided or strongly decreased. To avoid the intake of combustion products cannabis can be taken orally. To decrease the amount of inhaled carcinogens cannabis or THC can be inhaled by a vaporizer, and/or cannabis with a high THC content can be used/smoked. In several situations, a combination of a basic oral medication and a demand inhaled medication in acute asthma attacks may be useful to reduce the risks from smoking and the risk of overdosage with oral administration. The availability of a THC aerosol is desirable.

Calignano and colleagues

An international research group has discovered why marijuana causes coughing in some situations but may inhibit bronchospasm and cough in others. This finding could lead to better treatments of respiratory diseases. In a report in the journal Nature scientists from the Institute of Experimental Medicine in Budapest (Hungary), the University of Naples (Italy) and the University of Washington (USA) showed how the endocannabinoid anandamide influences the airways in the lungs. In animal studies with guinea pigs and rats, anandamide exerted a dual effect on bronchial responsiveness. If the muscles in the lungs were constricted by an irritant (capsaicin) the endocannabinoid relaxed the smooth muscles and strongly inhibited coughing. But if the airways were relaxed (by removing the constricting effect of the vagus nerve) anandamide caused a coughing spasm. Anandamide is synthesized in lung tissues and its effects are mediated by cannabinoid receptors. (…)
IACM-Bulletin of 12 November 2000; Calignano A, et al: Bidirectional control by airway responsiveness by endogenous cannabinoids. Nature 2000;408:96-101.

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Journals You are here: Home > FAQ > Asthma: How should cannabis or THC be taken to treat asthma? Asthma: How should cannabis or THC be taken to treat asthma? British Medical Association

Cannabis-Associated Asthma and Allergies

Affiliations

  • 1 Division of Respiratory Diseases, School of Medicine Pontificia Universidade Catolica do Rio Grande do Sul, Av Ipiranga 6680 Room 501, Porto Alegre, 90610-000, Brazil. [email protected]
  • 2 Division of Respiratory Diseases, School of Medicine Pontificia Universidade Catolica do Rio Grande do Sul, Av Ipiranga 6680 Room 501, Porto Alegre, 90610-000, Brazil.
  • 3 Respirology Division, McMaster University, 399 Bathurst St, Toronto, ON, M5T2S8, Canada.
  • 4 Department of Medicine, Division of Respiratory Diseases, University of Toronto, 399 Bathurst St, Toronto, ON, M5T2S8, Canada.
  • PMID: 28921405
  • DOI: 10.1007/s12016-017-8644-1

Cannabis-Associated Asthma and Allergies

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Authors

Affiliations

  • 1 Division of Respiratory Diseases, School of Medicine Pontificia Universidade Catolica do Rio Grande do Sul, Av Ipiranga 6680 Room 501, Porto Alegre, 90610-000, Brazil. [email protected]
  • 2 Division of Respiratory Diseases, School of Medicine Pontificia Universidade Catolica do Rio Grande do Sul, Av Ipiranga 6680 Room 501, Porto Alegre, 90610-000, Brazil.
  • 3 Respirology Division, McMaster University, 399 Bathurst St, Toronto, ON, M5T2S8, Canada.
  • 4 Department of Medicine, Division of Respiratory Diseases, University of Toronto, 399 Bathurst St, Toronto, ON, M5T2S8, Canada.
  • PMID: 28921405
  • DOI: 10.1007/s12016-017-8644-1

Abstract

Inhalation of cannabis smoke is its most common use and the pulmonary complications of its use may be the single most common form of drug-induced pulmonary disease worldwide. However, the role of cannabis consumption in asthma patients and allergic clinical situations still remains controversial. To review the evidence of asthma and allergic diseases associated with the use of marijuana, we conducted a search of English, Spanish, and Portuguese medical using the search terms asthma, allergy, marijuana, marihuana, and cannabis. Entries made between January 1970 and March 2017 were retrieved. Several papers have shown the relationship between marijuana use and increase in asthma and other allergic diseases symptoms, as well as the increased frequency of medical visits. This narrative review emphasizes the importance to consider cannabis as a precipitating factor for acute asthma and allergic attacks in clinical practice. Although smoking of marijuana may cause respiratory symptoms, there is a need for more studies to elucidate many aspects in allergic asthma patients, especially considering the long-term use of the drug. These patients should avoid using marijuana and be oriented about individual health risks, possible dangers of second-hand smoke exposure, underage use, safe storage, and the over smoking of marijuana.

Keywords: Allergic diseases; Asthma; Cannabis; Marijuana.

Inhalation of cannabis smoke is its most common use and the pulmonary complications of its use may be the single most common form of drug-induced pulmonary disease worldwide. However, the role of cannabis consumption in asthma patients and allergic clinical situations still remains controversial. To …