Around 5.4 million people of all ages in the UK are currently receiving treatment for asthma. As a chronic inflammatory disease of the lungs, more specifically the bronchial tubes, the most common symptom is difficulty breathing. The condition can also cause coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath and tightness in the chest. The severity of asthma symptoms can vary significantly, but most sufferers find the condition can affect their quality of life with many experiencing depression. Asthmatic symptoms or attacks can be triggered by many different things, usually allergens such as pollen, grass, dust, or non-allergens such as weather, exercise, stress, or illness. Today we’re exploring the question, could CBD oil help asthma sufferers? And could it also help other chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, (shortened to COPD) such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis?

How does asthma affect the lungs?

For a healthy person, allergens entering the lungs doesn’t cause a problem, but for those with asthma, the body perceives them as foreign bodies which in turn causes an inflammation response. Airways in the lungs are hyperactive in asthma patients, meaning they contract too much and too easily when a trigger is present. Patients will also suffer with excess mucus secreted in the lungs, causing further obstruction in the lungs..

One of the main reasons why CBD oil is such a versatile supplement, and can be used to help with many different ailments, is because of its anti-inflammatory effects. CBD interacts with our endocannabinoid system, a part of our body that aims to achieve homeostasis (a state of balance in the body). The system uses cannabinoids that are produced naturally in the body. When this system functions properly, it can help effectively control inflammatory responses. But when it’s not functioning correctly, inflammation processes can be exaggerated, leading to unnecessary chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation can eventually be a cause of several different diseases, including types of cancer, and can cause symptoms such as general pain, constant fatigue or inability to sleep, depression, anxiety and frequent infections, to name just a few.

How does asthma affect the lungs?

For a healthy person, allergens entering the lungs doesn’t cause a problem, but for those with asthma, the body perceives them as foreign bodies which in turn causes an inflammation response. Airways in the lungs are hyperactive in asthma patients, meaning they contract too much and too easily when a trigger is present. Patients will also suffer with excess mucus secreted in the lungs, causing further obstruction in the lungs..

One of the main reasons why CBD oil is such a versatile supplement, and can be used to help with many different ailments, is because of its anti-inflammatory effects. CBD interacts with our endocannabinoid system, a part of our body that aims to achieve homeostasis (a state of balance in the body). The system uses cannabinoids that are produced naturally in the body. When this system functions properly, it can help effectively control inflammatory responses. But when it’s not functioning correctly, inflammation processes can be exaggerated, leading to unnecessary chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation can eventually be a cause of several different diseases, including types of cancer, and can cause symptoms such as general pain, constant fatigue or inability to sleep, depression, anxiety and frequent infections, to name just a few.

How could CBD help?

The endocannabinoid system works across the whole body, with receptors that can pick up signals all over. CBD molecules have the ability to interact with these many different receptors, and it is this quality which could make it useful for asthma sufferers. CBD can interact with cannabinoid receptors directly and indirectly. It binds to proteins that would normally metabolise our natural cannabinoids, this can make our natural cannabinoids more prevalent in the body. It can also bind with the receptors, albeit with a low affinity, to increase the production of natural cannabinoids which can bind to receptors much more easily. Increasing the prevalence of natural cannabinoids can help reduce the pain felt from inflammation, as well as mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.

In one study using CBD for asthma, it was found that CBD inhibited the production of inflammatory proteins, known as cytokines, that are normally produced when patients experience a trigger for their asthma. This resulted in decreased inflammation and helped prevent the production of excess mucus, as the presence of cytokines has been linked to mucus production.  Another study looking at the endocannabinoid system and asthma, found that activation of the cannabinoid receptors on nerve endings of the bronchi (the main passageways into the lungs) acted like a bronchodilator, which opens the airways and allows unrestricted breathing.

With symptoms similar to asthma, those suffering from COPD have less air flow in and out of the airways because of loss of elasticity or overproduction of mucus, which can cause clogging in the airways. As mentioned previously, under the COPD umbrella are conditions like chronic bronchitis or emphysema. In cases of chronic bronchitis, the bronchial tube walls become thickened and inflamed. While in cases of emphysema, the air sacs in the lungs can be destroyed, reducing air flow. With the studies showing the potential benefits of CBD with asthma, its anti-inflammatory effects could also be useful for chronic bronchitis, as it interacts with cannabinoid receptors to help the endocannabinoid system achieve homeostasis, while also improving lung function. Endocannabinoid receptors in the body, known as CB1 and CB2, also become activited, which can have a bronchodilators effect. This can help to open the airways, reduce obstruction and increasing airflow, which can particularly help those suffering from emphysema.

The research so far with CBD as a benefit for COPD and asthma is very promising. But the main reason that we don’t hear more about CBD oil as a benefit to conditions like these, is just that the research is so early on. The studies so far have been positive, but there will need to be more high quality studies to back up the evidence so far that CBD can be of some benefit to patients. With virtually no side effects to taking CBD oil even in high doses, more and more people are trying CBD oil. If it’s something you’re interested to take, make sure to speak to your doctor first, especially if you’re currently taking medication.