It’s no myth that marijuana smokers have an increased lung capacity. But, can the herb actually help treat chronic respiratory illnesses? Contrary to popular belief, many patients with respiratory diseases have found relief with cannabis oil. In this second installment of our Healthy Lungs series, we’ll look at the case for medical marijuana and COPD.
Marijuana and healthy lungs
The act of smoking marijuana has gotten a bad rap when it comes to lung health. Namely, because breathing in hot, ashy smoke of any kind isn’t the best way to protect yourself from lung damage. Fortunately, compounds in the marijuana plant may actually mitigate some of the damage and irritation caused by smoke and other ailments.
While it may seem a little counterintuitive, anecdotal evidence suggests that medical cannabis may help relieve symptoms in respiratory conditions like COPD (and asthma). Here’s the scoop on how the herb may lend a hand.
What is COPD?
COPD stands for “Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease“. As its name suggests, COPD is caused when airways in your lungs are obstructed or blocked in some way. This could be partly due to previous conditions like emphysema, chronic bronchitis, or bronchiectasis.
Once these conditions have progressed to the point of COPD, there are surprisingly few medical treatments that provide adequate relief. Unfortunately, this means that the condition can actually be fatal as it gets progressively worse over time. Here are some of the main symptoms:
- Excess mucus
- Wheezing, coughing
- Losing breath with limited activity
- Continuous or frequent lung infections
- Chest pain and tightness
Basically, COPD is a respiratory nightmare. It comes about in four distinct stages. Once the condition has progressed to the third or fourth stage, you may require an oxygen tank to ensure that you’re getting anywhere close to enough air. Otherwise, the constricted airways and an inability to complete a full breathing cycle may lead to a costly stay in the hospital.
Marijuana and COPD
The notion this smoking marijuana leads to COPD has been disproven. But, if you have a serious respiratory condition, smoking won’t likely be your consumption method of choice. Vaporized cannabis, marijuana teas, tinctures, capsules, and other edibles are the best options for reducing symptoms and avoiding additional irritation caused by smoke.
Jeff Waters was 36-years-old when he was first diagnosed with COPD. He had been taking several different pharmaceutical drugs, including blood pressure medication, to manage his health.
Even with the drugs, his COPD would not let up. A bronchial infection landed him in the ER, making his condition worse. Later, a bout of pneumonia left him on life support in an intensive care unit for an entire month.
Something had to give. Life-threatening experiences with mainstream treatments inspired Jeff to try cannabis oil. He had found an online community of other COPD sufferers that successfully treated their conditions with marijuana extract. Jeff went for it.
The result? While Jeff once struggled to make it up a flight of stairs, he now walks two to five miles a day. After only two months of using the oil, he was able to go off of all pharmaceuticals and gave up his oxygen tank.
Pretty amazing, right?
Compounds in marijuana have extremely powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. These characteristics are most likely what has made the herb such a successful treatment for patients who have given it a try.
It’s important to note that while Jeff and many others have seen great improvements thanks to the oil, total remission of the disease is by no means a guarantee. Jeff’s story is quite miraculous, but you’ll want to make sure that you play it safe and work with a doctor before drastically changing any medical treatment.
More research and clinical trials of cannabis are sorely needed. Yet, many individuals report life-saving relief thanks to the medical properties of this plant. We can only hope that the political stranglehold around the herb begins to loosen, giving more patients access to effective medicine. Until that day, we must keep pushing for reform.
Do you use medical marijuana for your COPD? Tell us about your experience on social media or in the comments below. We’d love to hear your story.