Potential Prevention & Treatment of Asthma with CBD
Research by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute shows that at least 25 million Americans are living with asthma. Asthma is a chronic respiratory condition triggered by an inflammation of the airway. Inflammation causes the airway to constrict, resulting in breathing difficulties and wheezing.
Many people who suffer from asthma are in search of alternative and natural treatment methods. Research in the last two decades has shown that cannabinoids can potentially prevent and treat asthma.
This research is supported by the mechanism of our endocannabinoid system (ECS) and how cannabinoids work with it. All animals have naturally occurring endocannabinoids, and phytocannabinoids (cannabinoids derived from plants) can take the place of our endocannabinoids when they are depleted or our ECS is out of whack.
Plant cannabinoids like cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are currently being safely and legally derived from industrial hemp, which is different than the marijuana plant, mostly because it contains less than .3% THC and is non-psychoactive. More and more studies are being conducted and numerous anecdotal experiences exist to support that cannabinoids can serve as a therapeutic treatment for many diseases and conditions, including asthma.
When considering cannabinoid products (gel caps, tinctures, etc.), health professionals and consumers should always check that the products are tested and contaminant free. High-quality products will be transparent and provide this information.
The Potential Effects and the Research
Research focusing on the effects of cannabinoids on asthma is ongoing. In some cases, cannabinoids may be used for the treatment of chronic pain and neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis and arthritis. This is due in part to their anti-inflammatory effects. Because asthma arises due to chronic lung inflammation, studies are ongoing to find out whether the same effects can be replicated by cannabinoids. The outcome of the research looks promising, especially for those with allergic asthma.
Cannabinoids cause dilation of the airways: Cannabinoids act as a bronchodilator rather than a bronchoconstrictor. So far studies have concentrated on two cannabinoids, CBD and THC or THC-V. The bronchioles usually become constricted during an asthma attack. Because of this, the oxygen flow rate reduces drastically.
Anti-inflammatory effects: Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease, affecting the airways. Cannabinoids are powerful anti-inflammatory agents. Inflammation of the air-passageway causes a reduction in the amount of oxygen transported throughout the body. For people suffering from asthma, this makes it difficult to breathe. Inflammation occurs both during rest and at work.
Low-level inflammation can be found in the bronchioles and the bronchi of asthma patients. Also, when an asthma attack occurs, inflammation increases. In extreme cases, it may result in a loss of breath.
Cannabinoids have some anti-inflammatory properties that set it apart from other treatments. A study published in the Journal Mediators of Inflammation showed that CBD has some potent immunosuppressive and anti-inflammatory characteristics. Also, results from the research showed that mucus hypersecretion may be reduced by CBD.
Other effects included reduction of muscle spasticity and alleviation of pain related to asthma.
Two studies from 2011 and 2012 showed how natural endocannabinoids respond to modulate allergen-provoked respiratory inflammation. One published in Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics concluded, “These observations suggest that allergen exposure specifically activates the pulmonary endocannabinoid system (ECS) in patients with allergic asthma.”
It, therefore, makes sense that researchers are looking for how plant cannabinoids can be used to help prevent and treat asthma.
“… evaluated the effects of the CB1/CB2 cannabinoid receptor agonist CP55, 940 (CP) on the antigen‐induced asthma‐like reaction in sensitized guinea pigs and we tested the ability of the specific CB2 receptor antagonist SR144528 (SR) and CB1 receptor antagonist AM251 (AM) to interfere with the effects of CP.”
The results suggest that targeting cannabinoid receptors could be a new way to prevent asthma attacks.
A study in 2015 showed how CBD treatment modulated inflammatory asthma response in rats. It did so by blunting the serum cytokine response to ovalbumin in sensitized animals.
Understanding Our ECS and the Role of Cannabinoids
We have the blueprint, the mechanism for healing and regulating, within our bodies. It is the ECS. If we are deficient in the necessary endocannabinoids, if we have an imbalance, industrial hemp-derived cannabinoids can potentially reregulate our inner well-being and bring us back to homeostasis. This could mean preventing, healing, and treating conditions like asthma that affect millions.
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