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Even Once-a-Week Pot Smokers Have More Cough, Phlegm

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MONDAY, July 2, 2018 (HealthDay News) — Smoking marijuana once a week can cause coughing, wheezing and phlegm, all signs of chronic bronchitis, a new evidence review reports.

Pot smoking doubles a person’s risk of developing a regular hacking cough. It also triples the risk of coughing up phlegm and suffering from wheezy constricted breathing, researchers found.

“We know that smoke from tobacco and other entities — including burning wood in your fireplace — causes chronic bronchitis, so it’s not at all surprising they found chronic bronchitis in prior marijuana research,” said Dr. Norman Edelman, senior scientific adviser to the American Lung Association.

Edelman said he’s concerned that heavy marijuana use could lead to larger health problems for those who develop chronic bronchitis.

“You would worry about people being more susceptible to pneumonia, and of course, the end result of chronic bronchitis, if it persists long enough and is severe enough, is what we call COPD — chronic obstructive pulmonary disease,” Edelman said.

About half of tobacco smokers get COPD, he said. “It will be interesting to see what percentage of regular marijuana smokers get COPD,” he added.

Paul Armentano, deputy director of NORML, a group supporting reform of marijuana laws, said the study findings are “consistent with prior data.”

“It is hardly surprising that the habitual inhalation of combustive smoke may be associated with specific, though generally mild respiratory symptoms, like cough,” he said.

“However, unlike the inhalation of tobacco smoke, cannabis smoke exposure — even long-term — is not associated with the kind of serious respiratory effects that are often identified with long-term tobacco use, such as COPD, emphysema or lung cancer,” Armentano said.

About 13 percent of adults and 21 percent of young adults are believed to be regular pot users.

Marijuana legalization has led to the development of many alternatives to smoking pot, such as cannabis-infused edibles, oils and concentrates, Armentano said.

For the evidence review, researchers led by Dr. Mehrnaz Ghasemiesfe, from the San Francisco VA Medical Center, analyzed data from 22 studies of the effects of pot smoking on lung health.

Analysis of two prospective studies (ones that watch for outcomes such as disease development) found pot smoking associated with a doubled risk of cough and a nearly quadrupled risk of phlegm, the results showed.

Combined analysis of other studies revealed an increased risk of cough (4.3 times); phlegm (3.4 times); wheezing (2.8 times); and shortness of breath (1.5 times).

Some are concerned that as more U.S. states legalize pot, more people will develop lung problems.

“Because some of the worst effects of smoking take years to show effect, it took time until we had established clear and undeniable risks of cancer, heart disease and other major medical problems that were caused by smoking tobacco,” said Dr. Adam Lackey, chief of thoracic surgery at Staten Island University Hospital in New York City.

“I worry that we are looking at a similar situation with marijuana,” he said. “People need to realize that we just don’t know yet what the long-term effect of marijuana smoking is. This study shows that marijuana smoking certainly isn’t totally benign.”

QUESTION

At the same time, Edelman, the lung association adviser, doubts marijuana will be as harmful as tobacco, simply because it’s not smoked as much.

“My guess is that not many marijuana users smoke 20 joints a day, which would be equivalent to a pack a day for a cigarette smoker,” he said.

“I don’t think the smoke of marijuana is necessarily less toxic than the smoke of tobacco. It’s just that in general, people who use marijuana smoke fewer marijuana cigarettes than people who smoke tobacco,” Edelman said.

The new study was published July 2 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Copyright © 2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Smoking marijuana once a week can cause coughing, wheezing and phlegm, all signs of chronic bronchitis, a new evidence review reports.

Does Coughing After a Cannabis Hit Get You Higher?

Thursday August 22, 2019

A common cannabis culture urban legend states that coughing after consuming a hit of cannabis will help you get more high. It stands to reason, right? After all, it feels like a cough induces great gulps of air, which must push all that THC more quickly and potently into the alveoli – those little lung sacs that absorb oxygen, and when inhaling cannabis, THC – into the bloodstream. Or, if you are in the “coughing isn’t cool” camp, and you choose to keep that cough in, maybe all that cannabis smoke full of THC and other cannabinoids hanging out in your lungs can up your high, right? Well, the answer to both questions is, not exactly. Let’s take a look at what happens when you combine coughing, or in some instances not coughing, and THC.

Cannabis and Coughing: An Overview

The act of coughing in and of itself is a rapid inhalation of oxygen followed by rapidly expelling the air from the lungs. In other words, when taking a hit, the air goes quickly in, then with a cough, quickly back out. This essentially reduces the concentration of smoke, which in turn reduces the concentration of THC. When coughing, less THC reaches the alveoli, responsible for sending THC via oxygen into your bloodstream.

Others assume that by taking a large enough hit to induce a cough that you’re consuming more herb, which would also increase the high. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve inhaled more THC. It most likely means that you just inhaled more smoke, which of course, makes you cough. Coughing after all, is the body’s way of clearing out particles like microbes, fluids, mucus, and other irritants like smoke. If anything, the short inhalation ahead of a cough may have more to do with the feeling of being more high, since that sharp intake of air may reach a little further into your lungs. But it’s doubtful that it would make any actual, meaningful difference.

So, if coughing doesn’t get you higher, maybe holding in your hit does? Not so fast on that stoner trope, either. A study from 1997 determined that human lungs are only capable of taking in so much oxygen, about five-to-six milliliters per minute. And a study from Australia showed that 95 percent of THC is absorbed in the first few seconds of taking a hit.

Oxygen Deprivation is a More Likely Explanation

As an experiment, take in a big gulp of air and hold it for at least as long as you would hold in your hit, around 15-30 seconds. Has your heart rate increased a bit, or are you feeling a little dizzy or lightheaded? That is a direct effect of depriving your brain of oxygen. Combined with cannabis, it could definitely give a sensation of being higher. But it doesn’t mean that you are.

Even when coughing the brain is briefly deprived of oxygen, leading to a feeling of lightheadedness, just as it does when holding your breath.

A cannabis consumption device that actually could deliver more THC to the lungs, potentially intensifying your high, is an inhaler. These work for asthmatics and others with pulmonary symptoms by expanding the airways and delivering medicine to the alveoli. However, there is no research on whether a cannabis inhaler could get you higher, so this is total speculation. There are a couple of cannabis inhalers on the market, intended for medicinal cannabis consumers. The Santana Smooth, named for the song collaboration between Santana and Matchbox Twenty’s Rob Thomas, is specifically designed for medical patients and delivers a precise hit. Another is the Aeroinhaler, a cannabis concentrate inhaler that adds resin and terpenes back after the extraction process. Both are available in many Colorado dispensaries.

Do you think coughing after taking a hit makes you higher? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below!

Erin Hiatt is a New York City-based writer who has been covering the cannabis industry for more than six years. Her work – which has appeared in Hemp Connoisseur Magazine, PotGuide, Civilized, Vice, Freedom Leaf, MERRY JANE, Alternet, and CannaInvestor – covers a broad range of topics, including cannabis policy and law, CBD, hemp law and applications, science and technology, beauty, and psychedelics.

A common cannabis culture urban legend states that coughing after consuming a hit of cannabis will help you get more high, however, this might not exactly be the case. Let’s take a look at what happens when you combine coughing, or in some instances not coughing, and THC.