Take a deep breath, and let it out. Was it easy to breathe deeply? People with asthma often have difficulty taking a single breath because their airways can become inflamed and swell, filled with excess mucus, or the muscles can seize and squeeze the lungs. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, nearly 1 in 13 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with this chronic condition. Here is what you need to know about medical marijuana and asthma.
Several things can trigger asthma symptoms (pollen, cold air, infection, or exercise) and, eventually, an attack depending on the severity of the person’s reaction. While there’s no cure for asthma, therapy options include homeopathic remedies, conventional medicine, and a non-traditional approach. Cannabis may be beneficial in the treatment of asthma in adults, and in some states, you may even qualify for a medical marijuana card. But there are a few things to consider before you combine cannabis and asthma.
Conventional Treatment of Asthma in Adults
Asthma is a common ailment with a variety of ways to help control your symptoms. Whether you have severe asthma or have difficulty avoiding things that trigger an asthma attack, you can live a normal life with various prescription-based treatments. These can include quick-relief medicine, controller medicines, a combination of the two, or biologics.
Asthma medication falls into two groups. Bronchodilators, or beta agonists, or anti-inflammatories (both steroid and non-steroid). Both work by relaxing the muscles around the airways, removing and reducing mucus buildup during an asthma attack.
Inhalers are extremely common and very recognizable. People living with asthma will “puff” on this typically small device, which delivers prescription medicine through several methods metered dose, dry powder, aerosol, or a soft mist. Keep in mind that you may want to try using an inhaler for the first time with a doctor or nurse present, as 70 to 90% of people make a mistake the first time.
You can do this excellent and safe asthma treatment at home. You may have heard nebulizers referred to as “breathing machines.” The liquid medicine is misted and breathed in during these breathing treatments through a mask. A doctor must prescribe the asthma medication, and sometimes your insurance may cover the cost of the nebulizer machine. Though nebulizer machines can be bought online, they are not always properly regulated, so it’s best to get the medicine and device from your doctor.
Injectables or biologics are shots given every few weeks to help control asthma symptoms. This treatment is usually reserved for people with severe asthma. The medications reduce inflammation by targeting eosinophils and IgE in your blood.
Besides steroids, there are two main medications used to treat asthma. Leukotriene receptor antagonists (LTRAs) work by blocking leukotriene chemicals that cause inflammation in your airways due to an allergic reaction. Theophylline is another medication that acts as a bronchodilator, helping to keep your lungs and throat relaxed. It’s often recommended for people that have other health conditions.
Homeopathic And Complementary Options
If you’re someone who prefers to avoid medication, consider a holistic approach to reducing asthma symptoms. Homeopathy has shown promising results when used to treat allergies, which also trigger inflammation in the body. Like most integrative medicines, these therapies can enhance conventional treatments. Some possible complementary options include:
- Breathing exercises
- Herbal medicine
- Manual or chiropractic therapy
- IV Therapy
Marijuana and Asthma
Cannabis products, specifically cannabidiol (CBD), are another complementary therapy used to treat several diseases, health conditions, and chronic illnesses. Marijuana has two key active ingredients, CBD and TCH (tetrahydrocannabinol). THC is a psychoactive compound that makes people feel “high.” CBD is non-psychoactive and anti-inflammatory and immune-modulating, contributing to the idea of CBD oil as a beneficial therapy for asthma patients.
Benefits and Risks Of Using Cannabis To Treat Asthma
Marijuana is constantly studied for its health benefits. There have also been some promising results when used to treat asthma. According to Dr. Joanne Zieger, CEO, and researcher with Canna Research Group, “For some people with asthma, cannabis acts as an immediate bronchodilator. A bronchodilator relaxes the airways, which can help with breathing.”
Smoking and vaping can damage the lungs, leading to respiratory symptoms and possibly making asthma symptoms worse or triggering an asthma attack. For this reason, cannabis experts recommend edibles, tinctures, or topicals. There are risks to using cannabis regularly. Severe abdominal pain, mood changes, cognitive difficulty, and even psychosis are side effects of marijuana use and should be monitored.
Does Asthma Qualify for a Medical Marijuana Card?
In Kansas, non-psychoactive CBD oil is legal to use for any reason. While no state lists asthma as a qualifying illness for medical cannabis, here’s a breakdown of the states and their rules for medical marijuana and asthma.
- Physician’s Decision: Louisiana, Delaware, District of Columbia (D.C.), California, Maine, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Washington, West Virginia, Virginia, and Missouri
- State’s Decision: Oregon, Rhode Island, Oklahoma, and Nevada
- Case Where No Other Medical Treatment Has Worked: Maryland, Arkansas, and Connecticut.
So what happens next? You’ll need to speak with an asthma specialist for states that leave it up to the doctor to decide if your condition will benefit from marijuana. Otherwise, you or your doctor will contact the form to see if they will approve a medical marijuana card for asthma.
Talk with Your Doctor
Trying to treat asthma on your own, like borrowing a friend’s inhaler, can be dangerous, maybe even deadly. The first thing you want to do is consult your doctor first about an action plan to control your asthma. You’ll decide if a conventional, homeopathic, or cannabis approach is best. When it comes to cannabis, your doctor can help you determine the dosage and method that’s best for your asthma condition.
If your illness qualifies for medical marijuana, you’ll still need to talk to a physician to apply for a medical marijuana card. Heally has a network of doctors worldwide, many of which are authorized to issue medical cannabis cards. Check out this video for more information on Heally’s process. You can also get in touch with one of our specially trained and knowledgeable doctors today to develop a treatment and find relief from asthma symptoms.