The Impact of Medical Cannabis on Asthma: Exploring Effects and Benefits

In this article, we will delve into the relationship between medical marijuana and asthma, exploring whether it can potentially provide relief or exacerbate the condition.


Individuals with asthma are all too familiar with the challenges of dealing with constricted lungs. Symptoms such as dizziness, shortness of breath, wheezing, and other discomforts are frequent occurrences, and asthma attacks can pose significant risks if not managed carefully.

For those who have asthma and also enjoy using marijuana, life can become more complex. The desire to indulge in their beloved herb clashes with the concern of potentially aggravating their lungs. While it may be appealing to avoid introducing smoke or vapor into the lungs, the potential relief that comes with consuming marijuana makes it a tempting proposition.

This leads to the pressing question: Can medical marijuana be used by individuals with asthma? Will it provide therapeutic benefits or potentially worsen the condition? This article aims to address these inquiries and provide relevant insights.

What is Asthma and What Causes It?

You’re well aware of the challenges asthma presents, including the struggle to breathe and the distinctive wheezing sound that accompanies each inhalation. But have you ever wondered about the specifics of what occurs during an asthma attack?

Prepare yourself for a comprehensive overview, as the reality of these events is far from pleasant.

At the onset of an asthma attack, the airways within your lungs undergo a distressing transformation as they constrict and become inflamed. Additionally, the possibility of mucus accumulation in the respiratory system further complicates matters. While some individuals may perceive these symptoms as a minor inconvenience, for others, the most severe cases can prove life-threatening.

Given this understanding, it is natural to question your own susceptibility to asthma. Heredity plays a significant role, so if you have close relatives who experience asthma, there is a higher likelihood that you may develop it as well. Another relevant factor to consider is the presence of allergies, as they frequently coexist with asthma, providing an additional indication of potential risk.

In addition to genetic and hereditary factors, it’s important to consider certain lifestyle elements that can contribute to the development of asthma. Factors such as being overweight, engaging in chain-smoking, and exposure to environmental pollutants like second-hand cigarette smoke and other hazardous chemicals can also play a role.

Now, let’s explore the various causes of asthma. Numerous external triggers have the potential to initiate an asthma attack, including airborne allergens, specific food additives, and even cold air. Additionally, medical conditions ranging from common ailments like the common cold to more complex issues like Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), where stomach acids travel up into the throat, can contribute to the development or exacerbation of asthma symptoms.

Certain medications, such as beta-blockers, ibuprofen, and aspirin, have been identified as potential triggers for asthma. It is important to be cautious when using these medications if you have a history of asthma.

Furthermore, it is worth noting that emotional factors can also play a role in asthma. Stress and intense negative emotions have been recognized as precursors to asthma attacks in some individuals. Therefore, managing stress levels and finding healthy coping mechanisms are essential for individuals with asthma.

Asthma Symptoms

The frequency and triggers of asthma attacks can vary from person to person. While some individuals may experience frequent attacks upon exposure to triggers, others may only have them during activities such as strenuous exercise or intense emotional episodes.

Nevertheless, the symptoms of an asthma attack are generally consistent across individuals with asthma. If you notice the following symptoms, it is likely that you are experiencing a full-blown asthma attack:

  • Wheezing during every exhale. You’ll particularly see this in children, and it is quite a painful sound to hear.
  • Shortness of breath, as if you just ran a full marathon.
  • Hard, dry coughing worsened by wheezing. These are the ones commonly caused by a virus like the flu.
  • Interrupted sleep cycles because of breathing troubles.

As highlighted earlier, it is crucial to recognize that asthma attacks can become life-threatening if not properly managed. If you find yourself still struggling to breathe even after using a quick-relief inhaler, or if your peak flow meter readings indicate insufficient airflow in your lungs, it is essential to seek immediate medical assistance.

Therefore, if you experience persistent primary symptoms and your peak flow meter readings are not improving, it is a clear indication that professional medical help should be sought without delay.

The Effects of Cannabis on Individuals with Asthma

Despite the availability of different methods of cannabis consumption due to legalization, smoking remains a popular choice for many cannabis enthusiasts. However, even individuals with pre-existing conditions such as asthma often struggle to give up this habit.

In an effort to shed light on this topic and address ongoing questions and debates, scientific research has finally stepped in. In April, a team of experts conducted a study involving three patients with asthma who were treated with medical cannabis[1].

After observing positive improvements in the participants’ condition, the researchers delved into the data obtained from the study. They discovered that cannabis exhibited a bronchodilator effect, meaning it relaxed the lung muscles and expanded the airways, thereby facilitating easier breathing. Additionally, the cannabinoids present in cannabis appeared to have a soothing effect on the lungs.

Nevertheless, it is important to consider the potential irritation that can arise from inhaling smoke into the lungs. Excessive smoking may also contribute to the development of chronic bronchitis, although this is not commonly observed.

Is Smoking Medical Marijuana Recommended for Asthma Treatment?

Having explored the potential advantages, it is essential to consider the potential long-term risks associated with smoking in relation to asthma:

  • The risk of developing large fluid-filled sacs, known as bullae, in the lungs may increase when smoking cannabis. This can be particularly concerning for individuals already managing asthma, as it presents an additional complication that they would prefer to avoid.
  • Over time, the formation of bullae can progress to pneumothorax, a serious condition also known as a collapsed lung. Pneumothorax poses a life-threatening risk and should be taken seriously.

The short-term risks are concerning as well, as they have the potential to worsen your asthmatic symptoms and significantly impact your daily life. If you are not cautious with your smoking habit, you may encounter the following discomforting effects:

  • Wheezing while exhaling
  • Shortness of breath
  • Development of phlegm
  • Worsened coughing
  • Lung infections

Alternative Cannabis Forms for Asthma Treatment

With smoking clearly eliminated from the available options, are there alternative ways to consume cannabis that may help alleviate asthma symptoms? Fortunately, there are several viable alternatives worth considering.

Below are a few methods you can explore:

  • Vaping

You’ve likely come across discussions comparing vaping and smoking, and you probably have your own preference. However, when it comes to determining the “healthier” option for individuals with asthma, it ultimately boils down to the physical and chemical transformations that occur with the cannabis bud during vaping or smoking.

When you vape, the device heats the cannabis to a temperature that is sufficient to release the compounds contained within. This heat activates both the cannabinoids and terpenes found in the plant, causing them to be released in the form of vapor, which you then inhale.

In contrast, smoking involves the combustion of the plant material, which renders it carcinogenic, implying that consuming large quantities can potentially lead to cancer. Moreover, according to the American Lung Association[4], cannabis smoke may produce more tar than tobacco smoke.

If you truly require your cannabis dose, vaping stands as one of the top alternatives alongside cannabis oil, tinctures, and edibles. While it may not be entirely risk-free, it certainly represents a superior choice compared to smoking, particularly if you are managing asthma.

  • Inhaler

With the legalization of cannabis, medical professionals have made significant advancements in their respective fields to emphasize and incorporate the benefits offered by cannabis. As a result, the inhaler, a longtime companion for asthma patients, can now serve as a reliable device for cannabis consumption.

Cannabis inhalers function similarly to vaporizers by utilizing vapor instead of smoke. However, the key distinction lies in their ability to provide more accurate and precise doses.

The cannabinoids are delivered to the lungs through a propellant, similar to the mechanism of a regular inhaler. As previously mentioned, these inhalers provide precise doses, ensuring that you consume the same amount with each puff. This eliminates the risk of consuming excessive quantities and compromising your well-being in any way.

These inhalers typically have a higher THC content, so it’s important to carefully examine the labels if you require one with significant levels of CBD or other cannabinoids.

In addition to their precise dosing, cannabis inhalers possess the advantage of being discreet. They can easily fit into your pocket, allowing you to take a few puffs wherever you desire. Even if someone observes you, it will simply appear as if you’re using an inhaler for your asthma. Imagine having such freedom wherever you go!

Traditional Asthma Treatments vs. Cannabis

The treatment option prescribed by your doctor will be determined by the severity of your condition. Conventional treatment methods typically involve prescribed medications and breathing exercises, with the quick-relief inhaler being the commonly preferred choice.

However, with the promising potential of incorporating THC into inhalers, individuals with asthma can potentially experience the benefits of both immediate and long-term relief from this debilitating disease, for which there is currently no known cure. This offers the possibility of enjoying the advantages of instant relief alongside sustained alleviation.

Further research is undoubtedly needed to fully understand the connection between cannabis and asthma. However, it is worth acknowledging that cannabis has been recognized for its calming and relaxing effects on numerous individuals, which could potentially benefit those with asthma. While smoking cannabis is not a viable option, exploring alternative consumption methods is certainly worthwhile.

Medical Disclaimer: The information provided on this website is intended for general educational purposes only and does not constitute professional medical or legal advice. It is important to consult with qualified healthcare professionals for personalized guidance.

Royal Queen Seeds does not endorse, support, or encourage the use of legal or illegal drugs. Royal Queen Seeds cannot be held accountable for any content from references on our pages or linked pages that endorse, support, or encourage the use of legal or illegal drugs or engage in illicit activities. It is advisable to consult your doctor or healthcare practitioner before using any products or methods mentioned, referenced, or linked to on this website.

External Resources:
  1. Medical Cannabis in Asthmatic Patients – PubMed
  2. Bullae: Pictures, Treatment, Symptoms, and More
  3. Pneumothorax (Collapsed Lung): Types, Symptoms, and Risks
  4. Marijuana and Lung Health | American Lung Association
  5. Encyclopédie Larousse en ligne – bulle pulmonaire
  6. Pathologies – Réagir en cas d’urgence : Pneumothorax | | Assuré
  7. Catalogue en ligne OFDT Documentation
  8. Bulla. Diccionario médico. Clínica Universidad de Navarra.
  9. Neumotórax: Síntomas, diagnóstico y tratamiento. Clínica Universidad de Navarra
  10. Lungenzysten: einfaches Bild – viele Ursachen
  11. Pneumothorax – Wikipedia