CBD and Asthma: Benefits, How to Use, Dosage, & Side Effects
Asthma is an inflammatory immune condition — something CBD is particularly well-suited for. Learn how to use CBD products for asthma, and what to avoid.
CBD has risen to the forefront of treating numerous inflammatory conditions — leading researchers to begin exploring the benefits this versatile phytocannabinoid may offer asthma patients.
In 2015 it was estimated that 358 million people suffer from asthma around the world .
Only 183 million people reported to have diagnosed asthma three decades ago — these figures suggest that asthma is on the rise.
With this debilitating condition becoming more common as the years go on, medical researchers are frantically searching for new effective treatments for the condition.
Here we’ll go over the current research on CBD and its role in asthma. We discuss how to use CBD effectively, and what you can do to maximize the benefits.
MEDICALLY REVIEWED BY
Updated on January 12, 2022
Table of Contents
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Summary: Using CBD for Asthma
Asthma is an inflammatory disease of the airways — leading to difficulty breathing. Depending on the severity, asthma can interfere with the quality of life of those affected. It can even become fatal in severe cases.
Asthma caused by allergies is particularly dangerous because it leads to excessive mucus production in the lungs which further block air from entering the lungs.
CBD is thought to help in four main ways:
- Reduces inflammation in the throat
- Makes it harder for immune cells to attack the cells
- Relaxes tight muscles in the chest
- Alleviates common side effects of asthma (such as insomnia or anxiety)
Best CBD Oils For Asthma
- Royal CBD Oil— Best CBD Oil For Asthma Overall
- Gold Bee CBD Oil— Best Organic CBD Oil
- CBDistillery CBD Oil— Best CBD Isolate Oil For Asthma
- Blessed CBD— Best CBD Oil For Asthma in The UK
- Endoca CBD Oil— Best CBD Oil For Asthma in Europe
Tips for Getting the Most Out of CBD and Cannabis Extract Use for Asthma:
- Always consult your doctor before using CBD with asthma
- If symptoms of asthma become severe, it’s important not to rely on CBD to alleviate symptoms. Always visit a doctor in the event of an emergency
- Start with a very low dose of CBD and build up the dose gradually to make sure you are not allergic to anything in the CBD product
- Always use CBD alongside other forms of treatment such as dietary and lifestyle changes
- If using CBD with children, always consult with a pediatrician before starting CBD supplementation and use CBD extracts made from isolate only
- Use oral CBD only — avoid smoking or vaporizing to get your dose of CBD
What is Asthma?
Asthma is a condition involving inflammation of the airway leading to the lungs — leading to difficulty breathing.
Symptoms of asthma can be anywhere from mild to life-threatening. Asthma can be present all the time or appear in the form of asthma “attacks” sporadically when being exposed to triggers like exercise or allergies.
Allergic asthma is considered an atopic condition — which involves other allergy-related conditions such as dermatitis and food allergies.
Atopic individuals tend to be hyper-reactive to a list of environmental compounds and foods. It’s most common in developed countries — affecting as many as 1 out of every 5 people .
There is no cure for asthma. Treatment is aimed at lowering the intensity and frequency of attacks, and identifying and removing triggers.
Asthma attacks are temporary periods of increased symptoms. In most cases, something triggered the attack — such as dust, cigarette smoke, exercise, or food allergies.
During an asthma attack, as the airway becomes inflamed, the amount of air that can fit through the bronchioles is reduced, requiring more effort to give the body the oxygen it needs.
Attacks can last anywhere from a few seconds to a few days.
Symptoms of Asthma
Signs of Emergency During an Asthma Attack
Although all asthma involves inflammation in the airway, there are a few distinct types of asthma depending on the cause:
What Are the Different Types of Asthma?
1. Allergic Asthma
Allergies are caused by an activation of the immune system to particular compounds. We can develop asthma symptoms from the same allergens that give us a runny nose, watery eyes, and itchy skin.
When we’re exposed to these compounds, the immune system identifies the compounds and sounds the alarm. Specialized cells known as mast cells release neurotransmitters like histamine that go on to cause most of the negative side-effects.
Our airway leading down to the lungs is high in these immune cells — their job is to make sure no infectious organisms find their way into the lungs where they can proliferate and make us sick. During an allergic asthma attack, it’s these immune cells that were there to keep us safe that make the condition worse.
Histamine released from mast cells causes the airway to fill up with fluid and close shut.
2. Non-Allergic (Intrinsic) Asthma
Other forms of asthma can happen without the activation of mast cells during an allergic reaction.
Our airway is controlled via the central nervous system. When we’re exercising, for example, the central nervous system makes the airway wider to allow more air into the lungs and then shrinks it up when we don’t need it to preserve heat loss and keep infectious organisms out of the lungs as much as possible.
In some cases of non-allergic asthma, the cause of the condition is mediated through the central nervous system dysfunction that leads to a narrowing of the airway. Medications or exercise can cause this form of asthma.
Causes of Non-Allergic (Intrinsic) Asthma Include:
- Aspirin-induced asthma
- Asthma with fixed airflow obstruction
- Exercise-induced asthma
- Cough-variant asthma
- Occupational asthma
- Nighttime (Nocturnal) asthma
- Asthma with obesity
Common Asthma Triggers
Measuring Asthma Severity
Doctors will often measure the severity of asthma symptoms using a 4-step scale.
Step 1: Intermittent Asthma
Asthma symptoms appear less than two days per week and don’t interrupt daily activities. This level usually involves short-lived flare-ups and rarely involves nighttime symptoms.
Step 2: Mild Persistent Asthma
The symptoms occur more than two days per week, but only slightly interfere with normal activities. This level of asthma may or may not involve occasional nighttime flare-ups.
Step 3: Moderate Persistent Asthma
The symptoms occur daily and interfere with daily activities. This level of asthma involves frequent nighttime and daytime flare-ups, and usually require medications to keep symptoms at bay.
Step 4: Severe Persistent Asthma
The symptoms occur throughout the day and may strongly interfere with daily activities. Asthmatics experiencing symptoms at this level often have difficulty with physical activity and frequently suffer from nighttime flare-ups.
Treatment Options for Asthma
- Adrenergic receptor agonists (Salbutamol)
- Anticholinergic medications (ipratropium bromide)
- Leukotriene receptor antagonists
- Mast cell stabilizers
Guide to Using CBD for Asthma
There are many different causes for asthma, but the underlying cause of symptoms remains much the same — inflammation and excess mucus production in the airway leading down to the lungs.
Therefore, the treatment is similar for different types of asthma — with one of the primary treatment options being anti-inflammatory compounds. CBD is a particularly strong anti-inflammatory — exerting beneficial effects over multiple different types of inflammation.
There are no clinical studies to date on the effects of CBD on asthmatic patients to confirm how effective CBD is on real-life patients, but there are a lot of studies highlighting the specific inflammatory messengers inhibited by CBD that play a role in regulating asthma attacks (more on this in the next section).
CBD is a promising supplement for reducing the underlying causes of asthma.
It’s important to speak with your doctor before using CBD and avoid smoking or vaporizing cannabis as your source of CBD. Opt for using other forms of CBD instead — such as capsules, oils, tinctures, and edibles. It’s important to let your doctor know if you want to try CBD since it interacts with some medications.
What Does the Research Say?
In 2015, an animal study was published involving rats who were treated with 5 mg/kg CBD for two days. After the treatment was finished, researchers measured the inflammatory activity in the animals. All inflammatory markers except for IL-10 were substantially reduced — indicating that CBD was able to lower the inflammatory factors driving the symptoms of asthma .
Asthma caused by allergic reaction involves an increase in specific immune reactive cells (Th2 cytokines) . Research shows that CBD specifically targets many of the Th2 cytokines including IL-6, IL-2, TNF-a, IFN-c, IL-6, IL-12, and IL-17 [6, 7].
|Inflammatory Messenger||Role In Asthma Reaction||Effects of CBD|
|TNF-a||Heavily involved with severe asthma reactions||Reduces Asthma Reaction|
|IL-6||Stimulates T-cell activity||Helps Prevent Asthma Triggers|
|IL-4||Stimulates IgE activity||Reduces the Severity of Asthma|
|IL-13||Increased mucus production||Prevents Excess Mucus Production|
This means that the anti-inflammatory effects of CBD work at several different levels of the inflammatory response. Multi-level treatment approaches such as this are far more effective than treatments focusing on only one aspect of inflammation.
Even conventional treatments use multiple treatment options such as steroidal inhalants (puffers) and oral medications.
How CBD Affects Asthma
- Inhibits inflammatory response associated with both allergic and non-allergic asthma
- Resists immune cell migration into the inflamed airway tissue
- Alleviates symptoms of correlated medical conditions like insomnia, anxiety, and mood disorders
- Relaxes the muscles in the airway and chest to reduce symptoms of asthma
Other cannabinoids such as THC provide powerful benefits towards asthma. Some of the effects of THC toward asthma include:
- Relaxes the airway to allow better flow of oxygen (bronchodilator)
- Reduces several different inflammatory markers linked with asthma
- Relaxes muscles in the chest and airway to reduce symptoms
What’s the Recommended Dose of CBD?
Figuring out the right dose of CBD to use with asthma symptoms requires a bit of trial and error. This is because everyone responds to CBD differently.
Most people take a medium or high strength dose of CBD to find relief for their symptoms.
However, it’s wise to start with a smaller dose first and build up gradually over time to make sure there are no allergies to the product you’re using — which could ultimately make asthma symptoms worse.
If you’re especially prone to allergies, it’s recommended that you take this one step further and start by placing some of the oil or tincture on the back of one hand. After about an hour, if you don’t show any signs of allergy, you can start with a very small amount of the CBD product in the mouth. If no side-effects or allergies occur after an hour, you can start with the low-strength dose.
Over the next few days try building the dose up gradually until you find relief from your symptoms.
CBD And Asthma: 4 Ways CBD Can Benefit Asthma Patients
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An estimated 262 million people have asthma globally, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). It’s also considered a major non-communicable disease. Chronic illnesses, such as asthma, may benefit from natural, safe, and efficient therapy. So, it’s no surprise that many who have asthma have used CBD as it has become more popular.
CBD is an abbreviation for cannabidiol. Cannabidiol (CBD) is the second most prevalent active component in cannabis (marijuana). It’s a non-intoxicating, essential component of medicinal marijuana. Though CBD is found in hemp plants, it doesn’t provide a ‘high effect,’ which actually comes from another active chemical component named tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
CBD’s numerous medical advantages have been increasing in recent years. But while a few individuals are still worried about taking CBD for asthma, the vast majority of people are more interested to learn how to use it. Therefore, check out in this article how CBD is linked to have many benefits for asthma patients.
Ways CBD Can Benefit Asthma Patients
1. CBD Has Anti-Inflammatory And Antioxidant Properties
Inflammation of the airways is known to precede asthma attacks. In certain cases, like an asthmatic patient, the immune system responds to irritants and allergens by inducing inflammation.
In an in-depth investigation, it was discovered that mice made to have allergic asthma had lower airway inflammation and hyperresponsiveness due to their use of CBD. More study is required to establish if CBD oil is an effective therapy for allergy-induced asthma.
It’s believed that CBD’s interactions with the CB2 cannabinoid receptors in the endocannabinoid system may trigger extraordinary anti-inflammatory effects. This receptor helps decrease the concentration of pro-inflammatory cells such as C-fibers by activating it.
In a study published in the European Journal of Pharmacology in 2019, the researchers discovered that CBD might help prevent an asthma flare-up. It can speed up lung function recovery in those who suffer from an allergy-driven asthma attack.
2. CBD Reduces Chest Pain
Extensive research has been done to help patients get swift relief during severe asthma attacks. Since chest discomfort and symptoms, including shortness of breath, may be distressing. This discomfort is often described as a sharp stabbing pain in the chest that develops quickly and fades with time. A review published in the Journal of Pharmacology and Pharmacotherapeutics examined the possible use of cannabinoids, such as CBD, like painkillers.
CBD and similar phytocannabinoids impact the endocannabinoid system, thereby demonstrating analgesic effects. 2-Arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) and its plant-derived counterpart are the endocannabinoids involved in mediating pain. Consequently, CBD binds to particular pain receptors in the ECS and elicits an analgesic response, allowing asthma patients to reduce their chest pain suffering. Also, CBD oil may lower your sensitivity to asthma triggers, resulting in fewer frequent asthma episodes. Therefore, fewer flare-ups and illnesses, such as coughing, are seen.
3. CBD Relieves Muscular Spasm
Bronchioles, which function as a network of delicate passages that transport oxygen, become significantly restricted when a patient has a strong asthma episode. The decreased rate of oxygen flow produces a dangerously low oxygen flow rate. Coughing and shortness of breath occur as a consequence. People who suffer from bronchoconstriction also have muscle spasms, a symptom of an asthma attack.
According to SUPA Naturals, cannabis’ alternative treatment methods have demonstrated that usage of the various forms of cannabis significantly enhances the health of people with asthma. Cannabinoids in particular have shown a bronchodilatory effect.
Molecular mechanisms involved in alleviating muscle constriction include phytocannabinoids such as THC and CBD. Because of cannabis’ favorable benefits on airways, it has positive effects even when used as a treatment under normal conditions.
The bronchodilatory effects of CBD persisted a little longer but had lower effectiveness than other commercial medicines. Using vaporizers with CBD oil to treat severe asthma episodes results in immediate relief. CBD use aids in alleviating pain and shortness of breath in violent episodes because of its analgesic qualities.
4. CBD Alleviates Anxiety
Anxiety may be very detrimental to the mental health and well-being of asthma patients. Unfortunately, most asthma medicines, such as conventional inhalers, include stimulants, which, although are effective bronchodilators, may induce or exacerbate anxiety.
The anti-anxiety effects of CBD are well-known. CBD may be used to alleviate anxiety, enabling patients to take their prescription medicines without the worry of experiencing more significant anxiety. CBD has been shown in many experimental tests to have significant anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) effects. So there’s a possibility you may benefit from taking CBD oil in combination with your prescription medicine to avoid anxiety.
Experts are exploring the effectiveness of CBD oil in treating asthma. However, while laboratory tests show that CBD may benefit people living with asthma, it’s advised that patients first speak with their doctor before starting a CBD regimen.
Patients interested in CBD treatment for medical problems may also consult with a naturopathic doctor who is an expert in the use of CBD to treat various medical ailments. While the enthusiasm around CBD and asthma benefits individuals seeking alternative treatments for asthmatic patients, the potential safety issues remain primarily unknown.
This was it for today. Hope you found these benefits of CBD for asthma patients helpful. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.