Project Description



Asthma is a common chronic inflammatory disease of the airways characterized by variable and recurring symptoms, reversible airflow obstruction and bronchospasm. Common symptoms include wheezing, coughing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath.

Asthma is thought to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Its diagnosis is usually based on the pattern of symptoms, response to therapy over time and spirometry. It is clinically classified according to the frequency of symptoms, forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1), and peak expiratory flow rate. Asthma may also be classified as atopic (extrinsic) or non-atopic (intrinsic) where atopy refers to a predisposition toward developing type 1 hypersensitivity reactions.

Treatment of acute symptoms is usually with an inhaled short-acting beta-2 agonist (such as salbutamol) and oral corticosteroids. In very severe cases, intravenous corticosteroids, magnesium sulfate, and hospitalization may be required. Symptoms can be prevented by avoiding triggers, such as allergens and irritants, and by the use of inhaled corticosteroids. Long-acting beta agonists (LABA) or antileukotriene agents (arachidonate 5-lipoxygenase inhibitors or CysLT1 antagonists) may be used in addition to inhaled corticosteroids if asthma symptoms remain uncontrolled. The occurrence of asthma has increased significantly since the 1970s. In 2011, 235–300 million people globally were diagnosed with asthma, and it caused 250,000 deaths.

Medical Marijuana Efficacy

Studies cite THC’s ability to dilate respiratory passages and inhibit coughing as factors that make it beneficial for some patients. Cannabis actually does the opposite of tobacco smoke in that it expands, rather than constricts bronchial passageways.

However, while there seems to be almost universal agreement that THC opens up airways, this information has always come with the warning that smoking may have adverse health effects, including tissue inflammation and throat irritation. Over the long term, this can lead to impaired overall lung function—the last thing an asthma sufferer wants to worry about.

The most common pharmaceutical method of treating asthma attacks is through the use of corticosteroids delivered through inhalers that vaporize the medication. Asthma patients may also be familiar with a nebulizer, which is a tabletop machine that does the same thing. Therefore, Asthma patients would be advised to use a vaporizer to ingest their medical marijuana.

Official Research Reports

Acute and Subacute Bronchial Effects of Oral Cannabinoids (Gong H Jr, Tashkin DP, Simmons MS, Calvarese B, Shapiro BJ, 1984)

Comparison of Bronchial Effects of Nabilone and Terbutaline in Healthy and Asthmatic Subjects (Gong H Jr, Tashkin DP, Calvarese B, 1983)

Bronchodilator Effect of delta1-tetrahydrocannabinol Administered by Aerosol of Asthmatic Patients (S J Williams, J P Hartley, and J D Graham, 1976)

Effects of smoked marijuana in experimentally induced asthma (Tashkin DP, Shapiro BJ, Lee YE, Harper CE, 1975)

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