Lately, we have been receiving a lot of emails from asthma patients – may be because asthma flares up during fall.
Those sending the emails are asking whether CBD is effective against asthma.
To give them some peace of mind, yes, CBD does cure asthma. Not just asthma but common cold, allergy, bronchitis – all medical conditions that lead to asthma – get better with CBD consumption. It’s not coincidental that asthma drug manufacturing companies are investing in medical cannabis research.
Asthma is a respiratory disorder
Asthma is medically defined as chronic inflammation of the lungs. As the disease progresses, the airways of the lungs become inflamed, swell up, get narrower than before. Asthma ranges from mild to severe. Mild asthma is manageable with prescription drugs but severe asthma requires intensive medical care. Common symptoms of asthma include respiratory problems such as difficulty breathing, mouth breathing, chest pain, and pressure, wheezing, etc.
How CBD treats asthma
Clinical studies revealed CBD is effective against allergy-induced respiratory disorders. The two cannabinoid receptors in the brain are CB1 and CB2. Researchers found when CB2 receptors are activated on mast cells, anti-inflammatory effects are observed. Mast cells normally produce pro-inflammatory mediators. But with CB2 receptor activation, the release of the mediators comes to a halt. As a result, inflammation in the airways stops.
CB1 receptors also have a role in treating asthma. When these receptors are activated, the bronchodilator effect is observed on bronchial nerve endings. This effect causes airway muscles to relax and episodes of breathlessness – a very common occurrence among asthma patients – tend to decrease. Also, CB1 receptors have anti-ischemic effects on cerebral blood vessels, which is beneficial for people suffering from asthma.
CBD discriminates between inducers
CBD can discriminate between allergen and antigen-induced asthma. When clinical studies were performed, scientists used separate antagonists for CB1 and CB2 receptors. Experiments were done on guinea pigs. Approximately an hour before the antigen was applied, CB1 and CB2 receptor agonist was given.
Afterward, lung tissues were taken as sample and examined. Histopathological and morphometric analysis revealed cannabinoid receptor agonist has a protective effect on the lungs and bronchial area. TNF-Alpha levels were found to be quite low implying reduced inflammation. The conclusion of the study was that asthma treatment needs to target cannabinoid receptors in order to minimize inflammation and the onset of the disease.
Neurogenic inflammation in airways
Asthma has many triggers. No two asthma patients are same as they might have two completely different triggers. While some patients are susceptible to common cold and are prone to develop asthma during the winter, others might develop neurogenic inflammation eventually leading to asthma.
Experiments were conducted to measure the damage in lung airways caused by nerve inflammation. Researchers observed that C-fiber activation is responsible for neurogenic inflammation. What was unknown them was how C-fibers causes airway inflammation.
The method they used was deemed best for pharmacological profiling of endogenous cannabinoid receptor agonists. The influence of the agonist on bronchoconstriction, bronchial smooth muscle contraction and substance P release was measured. Smooth muscle contraction was induced by electrical field stimulation and bronchoconstriction was capsaicin-induced.
The results were pretty fascinating. The cannabinoid receptor agonists used in the study were anandamide and palmitoylethanolamide. Both agonists were effective in lessening EFS-induced bronchial smooth muscle contraction. Scientists identified a group of antagonists that inhibited the alleviating effects of the agonists. Such antagonists were charybdotoxin and iberiotoxin – both are K-channel blockers.
CBD as antibiotic
Several cannabinoids show antibiotic promise. Not too long ago, a post was published articulating how CBD is effective in suppressing MRSA – an antibiotic-resistant bacterial strain. The most interesting takeaway was that the regulatory mechanism of CBD was different from how normal antibiotics work.
Currently, scientists are developing a new body of research so that in the future asthma treatment could be done with the use of antibiotics. There may be antibiotics, effective against asthma but they are under clinical trial and asthma patients are hesitant to use them for the side-effects that might come along.
As cannabinoids work against bacterial and infectious pathogens, researchers might in the future suggest adding cannabinoids like CBD, CBG, and THC to manufacture antibiotics for the treatment of asthma.
CBD for cough treatment
A persistent cough is a symptom of asthma. People with cough-variant asthma lacks other symptoms. A dry and mucusless cough is their only symptom. They lack typical asthma symptoms like breathlessness and wheezing.
Cannabis, many believe, has an expectorant effect on consumers. A 2014 study reported cannabis smokers to experience increased mucus secretion. The same study, however, linked cannabis smoking with damage to airway tissues.
Most CBD products are marketed for non-smokers. As consumption of these products won’t damage tissues in the airway, asthma patients can safely use them to get relief from their symptoms. That being said, more research is needed to discover CBD’s long-term effectiveness against asthma and to isolate other cannabinoids and terpenes that help treat asthma symptoms.