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Studies report that the use of cannabidiol (CBD) can reduce the symptoms of COPD and improve breathing, such as shortness of breath. CBD products abound, in all kinds of forms. Despite marketing claims, there’s no proof they’ll help lung disease. Learn the facts on CBD and where research stands.

Does CBD Help Shortness of Breath?

Studies report that the use of cannabidiol (CBD) can reduce the symptoms of COPD and improve breathing, such as shortness of breath.

A study based on the neurophysiology of dyspnea (difficulty breathing) and the location of cannabinoid receptors in the central nervous system (CNS) states that cannabinoids will alleviate the unpleasantness of breathlessness in people without causing respiratory depression.

Patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) may need a long and gradual therapy depending on specific characteristics. During the early stages of COPD, many individuals utilize oxygen treatment to delay the disease’s progression. In more severe situations, surgical procedures, such as lung transplants, may be required.

Studies have reported that the use of cannabidiol (CBD) has reduced the symptoms of COPD and improved breathing. CBD has been examined for its anti-inflammatory properties and effectiveness as a bronchodilator (causes widening of airways for better breathing). Both outcomes suggest that CBD may help relieve some of the symptoms of COPD. More studies, however, are needed to support the effect of CBD on the shortness of breath.

2 health benefits of CBD

  1. Bronchodilation
    • Cannabidiol (CBD) has been found in several recent studies to have considerable bronchodilatory activities. According to scientists, CBD can widen the airways, decreasing resistance and increasing airflow into the lungs.
    • When researchers were looking for novel asthma medicines, they looked at these qualities. CBD’s bronchodilatory actions, however, may provide similar alleviation to those suffering from acute chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) symptoms.
    • CBD may help COPD patients avoid low levels of oxygen in the blood and shortness of breath by increasing airways. This, in turn, may decrease the progression of the disease and lessen the severity of its negative effects.
  2. Anti-inflammatory properties
    • Since 2009, medical experts have been investigating CBD’s powerful anti-inflammatory capabilities. In a 2014 study, CBD was shown to enhance lung function and decrease inflammation in animal studies.
    • According to the researchers in the 2014 study, the results reported that cannabidiol can become a viable therapeutic tool for the attenuation and treatment of inflammatory lung illnesses in the future, implying that CBD might be an effective therapy for COPD.

What is the impact of CBD in cannabis on asthma?

As previously stated, people with asthma should avoid inhaling cannabis by smoking or vaping.

Safety is vital and comes first for anybody who uses cannabis, especially those with chronic illnesses. Determine the safest technique of consuming cannabis, as well as the lowest feasible amount that gives the best relief, with the doctor.

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Cannabis should be used carefully. If one feels too high, they should try sleeping it off or waiting it out. Do not overdo it. Although cannabis has medical use, it can have negative side effects.

Cannabis contains more tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and fewer cannabidiols (CBD), whereas hemp contains more CBD and less THC. However, CBD in both works the same and has the same effects on the body.

SLIDESHOW

What is CBD?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the hundreds of molecules called cannabinoids present in the cannabis plant. It is now accessible in a broad range of products, including tincture drops, capsules, chocolates, pastries, and even coffee. CBD is available in liquid forms, which are warmed and inhaled using a specific apparatus (a process called “vaping”).

Marijuana and hemp are the same species of cannabis plants, but the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 has made hemp lawful on the federal level because it contains less than 0.3 percent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), whereas marijuana contains more than 0.3 percent of THC. CBD can be extracted from hemp, which means its potential health advantages may now be researched more thoroughly.

CBD appears to offer a variety of therapeutic benefits according to research. Some supporters are now praising CBD’s ability to alleviate symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a disorder that damages the airways and makes it difficult to breathe regularly.

Because of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, many CBD-containing products have emerged, and consumers may now take CBD in a variety of ways, such as:

CBD Oil and Lung Disease

You’ve likely noticed that CBD products crowd the alternative-remedy market these days. CBD, or cannabidiol, is a compound found in the cannabis plant that comes in all kinds of forms, from tablets to tea. Many of these products make claims of health benefits that can’t be shown to be true.

So, what, if anything, can CBD do for lung disease?

Claims Not Backed or Debunked by Science

David Mannino, MD, a pulmonologist in Lexington, KY, and the medical director and co-founder of the COPD Foundation, says the question is common. The answer is not that easy.

“These are questions we get a lot,” Mannino says. “There’s a whole cottage industry around CBD, not dissimilar from snake oil, purported to do everything with very little evidence.” Like dietary supplements, these products can pretty much claim anything. But studies haven’t shown results on humans that CBD can help lung disease.

But there’s nothing out there yet to say CBD doesn’t help, either, Mannino says.

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CBD has, at most, a trace amount — no more than .03% — of THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive substance in marijuana that triggers the “high” and other brain responses. Lots of products boast CBD as an active ingredient: over-the-counter pills and capsules; oils and tinctures (meaning it’s dissolved in alcohol instead of oil); foods and drinks; oil for vaping; and even topical types you put on your skin, nails, and even in your hair. Right now, it’s illegal to market CBD by adding it to a food or labeling it as a dietary supplement. Some online stores try anyway.

At the same time, pure hemp seed oil, which comes from a different part of the hemp plant, and other hemp products don’t have CBD or THC. The FDA says they’re safe. But CBD/hemp oil combos exist and blur the lines even more.

Animal Testing Shows Some Positive Results

Because CBD comes from hemp, researchers might be able to study its possible benefits more widely. Few studies have been done to date. Of that small number, not enough of them researched humans to say if it can help lung disease or not.

Some positive results have come from animal studies. A 2015 study on guinea pigs showed CBD helped open up the bronchial passages. Some researchers believe it’s possible it could help people with COPD breathe easier and keep blood oxygen levels from falling, too. And a 2014 study on mice with damaged lungs showed CBD helped lower inflammation and improved lung function.

One of the few reports on CBD involving a person is a case report of an 81-year-old man with lung cancer whose tumor shrunk greatly when he regularly took CBD oil drops for a short time. Meanwhile, a 2020 pilot study using human cells and CBD oil to test possible COPD connections confirmed earlier studies that showed CBD might support your body’s anti-inflammatory and immune responses.

For now, the limited CBD research means there’s no info either about its long-term effects on the body or how it works with other drugs, and there is reason to be cautious with some medications, such as blood thinners.

Labels Don’t Tell the Whole Story

The hemp plant itself is legal from a federal standpoint. To date, though, the FDA has only approved one cannabidiol product, an oral prescription drug called Epidiolex to treat seizures caused by two rare, serious forms of epilepsy. Because CBD safety guidelines haven’t been decided for other uses, the FDA stresses taking the substance can be risky.

The strength levels of CBD in OTC products can change from product to product even throughout the same brand. Some don’t have any CBD in them at all. And sometimes they really do have THC, which brings its own risk and possible side effects as with marijuana, especially if the user doesn’t know they’ve taken it. These include anxiety, aggression, and paranoia.

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CBD doesn’t usually cause a lot of side effects at first. But it’s possible you’ll have diarrhea, low appetite, sleepiness, and fatigue. So check with your doctor before adding CBD to your treatment.

Since CBD product quality is unknown and unregulated, it can be hard to tell what’s legit. A Penn Medicine study of 84 “CBD oil” products from 31 different online companies found nearly 70% were mislabeled. Some said they had more CBD than they advertised, while others had less. There also have been reports that cannabinoid products like CBD have been tainted with microbes, pesticides, or other foreign substances.

Still, it’s possible that one day CBD will be found to have science-proven benefits for people with lung disease.

“There are a lot of people who use CBD and swear by it, in the absence of evidence,” Mannino says. “However, if they believe it helps, then perhaps it can. There’s fully no data that’s clear that it doesn’t do anything.”

Show Sources

David Mannino, MD, director, Pulmonary Epidemiology Research Laboratory, University of Kentucky, Lexington; medical director, COPD Foundation.

Lung Health Institute: “Can CBD Cure My Lung Disease?”

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health: “Cannabis (Marijuana) and Cannabinoids: What You Need To Know.”

FDA: “What You Need to Know (And What We’re Working to Find Out) About Products Containing Cannabis or Cannabis-derived Compounds, Including CBD,” “Hemp Ingredients /Dietary Supplements/ Conventional Food,” “FDA Approves First Drug Comprised of an Active Ingredient Derived from Marijuana to Treat Rare, Severe Forms of Epilepsy.”

Mayo Clinic: “Clinicians’ Guide to Cannabidiol and Hemp Oils,” “What Are the Benefits of CBD — and is it Safe To Use?”

The Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics: “The Effect of Phytocannabinoids on Airway Hyper-Responsiveness, Airway Inflammation, and Cough.”

Sage Open Medical Case Reports: “Striking lung cancer response to self-administration of cannabidiol: A case report and literature review.”

Journal of Cannabis Research: “Effects of cannabis oil extract on immune response gene expression in human small airway epithelial cells (HSAEpC): implications for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).”

Journal of Clinical Medicine Research: “The Impact of Cannabidiol on Psychiatric and Medical Conditions.”

Penn Medicine: “Penn Study Shows Nearly 70 Percent of Cannabidiol Extracts Sold Online Are Mislabeled.”

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