Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) consists of a group of progressive inflammatory lung diseases that interrupts airflow and makes it difficult to breathe. The condition can lead to the development of emphysema and chronic bronchitis, and can increase the risk of respiratory infections, heart problems, lung cancer, high blood pressure, and depression. Symptoms include coughing up mucus, shortness of breath, wheezing, and chest tightness. Because of cannabis' anti-inflammatory effects, it could be beneficial for COPD treatment. Some studies show cannabis has the ability to manage acute attacks of airway constriction resulting from inflammation.
Both CBD and THC interact with CB1 and CB2 receptors in order to reduce airway inflammation, and one animal study has found CBD not only reduces inflammation, but also improves lung function. Another study suggested CBD has anti-inflammatory effects following lung injury. Even cannabis' terpenes contain anti-inflammatory properties. Additionally, cannabis acts as a bronchodilator, which helps to decrease resistance in the airways and support airflow. This could be because the CB1 receptor, upon activation, prevents contraction of the smooth muscle surrounding the lungs, which helps to dilate the bronchial tubes and thereby open the airways. While this information is useful, patients should remember that smoking combusted marijuana could only add to lung damage. Patients may want to opt for one of the many vehicles that does not involve smoking.
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