The official blog of the Lung Institute.
Has a new form of treatment been discovered?
For those who suffer from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and other respiratory illnesses, the desire to find a form of treatment that can address their symptoms without negatively affecting their health can be all-consuming. Today, medical marijuana is legal in 23 states and Washington D.C., leading many Americans to ask, “What are the real benefits of medical marijuana?” Although studies on the subject have been sparse given the mixed legality of the substance, there are those that state that marijuana is beneficial and others that claim it is only harmful. Though the topic is a controversial one, as time moves forward, the use of medical marijuana has generally become more widely accepted.
With your health in mind, the Lung Institute is here to provide the facts on this ongoing issue, and find an answer to the question: Can Marijuana Help COPD?
COPD and Marijuana
The symptoms of COPD are brought about by acute inflammation of the airways, obstructing and inhibiting normal breathing. In treating COPD, medications such as inhalers and corticosteroids work as anti-inflammatory agents reducing inflammation and dilating the respiratory airways. However, these forms of medication can be expensive over time and often come with negative side-effects from weight gain, blood sugar imbalance, and infection.
Recently it has been found that medical marijuana and its reported efficacy in treating respiratory illness has been linked to anti-inflammatory properties. These chemicals or cannabinoids are known to have several additional functions as well:
- Promote better sleep
- Serve to support the immune system
- Possess anti-microbial properties
- Work as an expectorant (reduce phlegm)
- Can relieve pain
Despite the positive benefits of marijuana, the issue still remains that the act of smoking is unequivocally harmful to respiratory health.
Marijuana: The Act of Smoking
Though many proponents of medical marijuana may cite the benefits of the drug on respiratory health, what they often overlook are the incredibly negative effects of long term smoking on the lungs. According to the CDC, cigarette smoke contains over 700 chemicals and deposits nearly four times as much tar in the lungs as cigarette smoke.
Advocates of medical marijuana often believe that marijuana is inherently better for respiratory health than tobacco. However, marijuana can just as often be worse. Marijuana cigarettes or joints do not contain a filter, and due to the method in which it is inhaled (deeply), and held within the lungs (longer), the lungs are exposed to the harmful effects of marijuana smoke longer than traditional cigarette smoking. But does marijuana have to be smoked?
Alternatives to Smoking
As medical and recreational marijuana use has spread into the mainstream, the methods in which it is consumed have rapidly advanced. Where smoking was once the traditional form of consumption, now methods such as vaporizing and eating ‘edibles’ have become the norm, effectively eliminating the adverse effects of smoke inhalation.
- Vaporizing- a method in which marijuana is heated at a cooler temperature (329 F) than required for burning (combustion) releasing the active ingredients of marijuana into a safer gas or vapor.
- Edible consumption- a method in which active ingredients are essentially cooked out of the marijuana and added to food. Typically these chemicals are reduced down to a simple oil, this oil can be used in the creation of baked goods such as cookies, muffins, brownies, candy and even lemonade.
Medical marijuana can serve as a temporary method of treatment, but the inability to avoid the side effects (being ‘high’) and the mixed legality of it leaves its use as a future form of medication uncertain. Although COPD currently has no cure, new discoveries are being made every day in the field of stem cell research. As the scientific community continues to put their best minds to the task of solving the problems and complications of the human body, the Lung Institute will continue to bring these advancements to the public with the hope of bettering quality of life for those who need it most.
If you’re looking to make a profound change in your life or the life of someone you love, the time is now. If you or a loved one suffers from COPD, or another lung disease, the Lung Institute may be able to help with a variety of stem cell treatment options. Contact us at (800) 729-3065 today to find out if you qualify for stem cell therapy.
Suffering from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and considering medical marijuana? We want to hear from you. Share your thoughts and comments on the question of Can Marijuana Help COPD below.