Over 25 million people in the United States live with asthma, an incurable lung disease that makes breathing difficult. Asthma is treatable, and if the condition is managed properly, people with this condition can live full, healthy lives. The disease can be serious if left untreated, though: on average, more than 3,500 people in the U.S. die from asthma every year.
For people who have this disease, it’s important to be aware of all the treatment options available. A number of pharmaceutical medications for asthma are on the market. For those who prefer a natural treatment, cannabidiol – a non-psychoactive extract of the cannabis plant – may be a safe and effective alternative.
Asthma: Its Symptoms and Causes
Asthma is a lifelong and incurable disease that obstructs the airways in the lungs. It can develop at any age. It tends to run in families, indicating a genetic component, but it can also be caused by illnesses or infections. During an asthma attack, a person with this condition may feel short of breath or hear a wheezing noise in their chest. The condition can range from mild to severe, and if left untreated, it can even cause death.
Asthma causes the passageways in the lungs to become inflamed, making them sensitive to allergens or other irritants. During a flare-up, the passageways swell, constrict further, and produce mucus that blocks air flow. This causes the person experiencing the flare-up to have difficulty breathing and a tight sensation in their chest. Flare-ups can be triggered by allergic reactions or by other stimuli such as illness or exercise.
Since there is no cure for this disease, asthma treatments aim to control symptoms and prevent flare-ups. People with this condition should avoid irritants and allergens that could trigger an attack. A variety of asthma medications are available, including long-term treatments that keep inflammation to a minimum and short-term treatments that provide immediate relief from a flare-up. For people who would rather use a natural remedy than a pharmaceutical medication, cannabidiol is another treatment option.
What Is Cannabidiol?
Cannabidiol is a natural chemical compound found in the cannabis plant. Cannabis contains more than 80 such compounds, called cannabinoids. Cannabidiol, often just called CBD, has become one of the most-studied cannabinoids in recent years because of its potential health benefits.
Researchers have found that cannabidiol is a versatile natural treatment with a wide variety of medical applications. Cannabidiol reduces nausea, suppresses seizures, neutralizes free radicals, and eases anxiety and depression. It also has potent anti-inflammatory effects, making it useful for treating many inflammation-related illnesses like asthma. Cannabidiol is not psychoactive and carries no dangerous side effects, so it is safe for daily use.
How Cannabidiol Affects Asthma
The FDA has not approved CBD as an asthma treatment yet, and more research needs to be done on CBD’s potential for treating this disease. However, the studies that have been conducted so far indicate that CBD has the potential to treat asthma in a variety of ways. CBD acts as a bronchodilator and reduces inflammation in the lungs. It may reduce mucus in the lungs as well.
Researchers have known that cannabis acts as a bronchodilator since the 1970s. During an asthma flare-up, the bronchioles – the airways in the lungs – constrict, making breathing difficult. A study conducted in 1976 found that cannabis smoke opens up the lungs as effectively as salbutamol, a pharmaceutical asthma drug. However, research has also found that THC, the psychoactive component of cannabis, can actually cause bronchioles to constrict. In addition, many people with asthma would prefer not to treat their condition by smoking. Because of this, hemp oil or another smoke-free CBD extract might be the best treatment option for patients who want to try medical cannabis.
CBD may reduce asthma symptoms in other ways as well. The anti-inflammatory properties of CBD could help to minimize inflammation in the lungs and prevent flare-ups from occurring in the first place. CBD also has expectorant properties that could help clear up any mucus in the lungs. Finally, since cannabis is a painkiller, CBD may be able to treat the chest pain that often accompanies an asthma attack.
CBD is an effective bronchodilator, and it may also help reduce lung inflammation, clear up mucus, and ease the pain of an asthma attack. More research needs to be done to determine the best way of using this promising compound to treat asthma. For now, many people opt to use CBD oil or other natural treatments to avoid asthma attacks and live healthy, symptom-free lives.