Asthma is a lung condition marked by coughing, wheezing, and difficulty breathing. It can be a chronic condition or an acute attack can be triggered by allergens like environmental pollutants or by the presence of a respiratory infection. Rates of asthma in the US have dramatically increased over the past 40 years, due at least in part to low breastfeeding rates and increased exposure to numerous toxins. Conventional asthma treatments include steroid inhalers, available in both daily preventative doses and doses for acute attacks, although occasionally an asthma sufferer will require further emergency interventions like the use of a nebulizer.
Weed and Asthma
Cannabis has been shown to be beneficial for the treatment of asthma, most likely because it helps to relax the lungs and both THC and CBD have shown anti-inflammatory action on the lungs. So what the best way to take cannabis for asthma? Smoking and vaping seem to have the most reliable and immediate bronchodilation effect when compared to edibles. However, smoking may be associated with greater risk for triggering an immediate asthma attack than vaping. Edibles can have similar lung relaxing effects but are not suitable for treating an acute asthma attack due to variability in the time between dose and when the active medicinal effect takes place. Therefore, vaping is likely the easiest and safest method to achieve the medicinal results of cannabis for an acute asthma attack.
Vaping with Asthma
While there is not a lot of information on the health effects from the use of vaporizers to imbibe weed, it seems clear that vaping is less damaging to the lungs than smoking and thus the medicinal effects can be achieved for a person with asthma with less risk of triggering an attack. Vaporizers activate beneficial constituents in ganja like THC and CBD, while staying at a low enough temperature to avoid burning the waste materials, meaning no smoke or harmful by-products are taken into the lungs. It does seem important to educate yourself what temperature is appropriate depending on the form of cannabis you are vaping, since flower vapes at a different temp and in a different type of vaporizer than an isolate like shatter or a whole plant extract in a pod (like those found in Stiiizy or Pax products).
Vaping Inhaler vs. Asthma Inhaler
An asthma inhaler typically contains a steroid, which suppresses inflammation in the tissues. Unfortunately, there are many known side effects from the use of steroids, including acne, weight gain, increased body hair and difficulty sleeping. Using a cannabis vaporizer, whether it is for a CBD-heavy strain compound, a whole plant product like a CO2 oil extract, or dried flower in an old-school Pax, can get the anti-inflammatory and bronchodilation actions of cannabis into the lungs almost immediately, and in a controlled dose. Treating acute asthma attacks can be a simple as vaping, which is an easy intervention for someone used to relying on an asthma inhaler to control symptoms. Over time, the use of high-quality cannabis products may also help to heal the lungs and lessen the acute bouts of asthma.
Putting it All Together
Caution should be used by anyone with a reactive airway disease or who has known smoke triggers for asthma. Vaporizing cannabis might be a better option for anyone who needs to protect their lungs, while still needing immediate relief from asthma provided by cannabis. One benefit to vaping is that it is unnecessary to take the vapor deep into the lungs, as with smoking, and the user can control the amount of vapor taken in quite easily. Clean, organic vaping products and/or the use of cannabis that is free from pesticides or other chemical contaminants is another important consideration for anyone treating asthma with medical marijuana. Look for chemical-free extractions (think ethanol or CO2), and high-quality organic ingredients to avoid lung-irritating preservatives, chemicals or flavors.