Written by Craig Hauser, M.D.- CEO & Medical Director, Hauser Health and Clinical Director, Kannavis Dispensary

Smoking a joint is almost always the first thing that comes to mind when people think about cannabis. For this reason, the mental picture of someone with asthma using medical marijuana can be quite disconcerting. 


Yet did you know that the French writer Marcel Proust used cannabis regularly (alongside other substances) to manage his asthma-like symptoms? Plus, it’s worth noting that hemp and cannabis tinctures used to be prescribed for cough management in the early 1920s just before the tobacco industry made great leaps? 


So is cannabis an excellent way to manage asthma? Or will it only make the symptoms worse? 


In this article, we’re going to take a quick look at the recent research on cannabis use for asthma patients. 


Cannabis Opens Airways in People with Asthma 


Before we understand how cannabis can benefit asthma patients, let’s take a quick look on what happens during an asthma attack. 


As a chronic condition, asthma occurs when air passages in the lungs are inflamed. The narrowing of the airways can lead to breathing difficulties, shortness of breath, chest tightness, and wheezing (asthma’s classic symptom particularly in children). 


There’s no known cause for asthma, but a variety of factors such as a sudden change in temperature, smoking, exercise, and air pollution can trigger or exacerbate its symptoms. 


So how can cannabis help anyone with asthma symptoms? 


It turns out that cannabis is a bronchodilator. During an asthma attack, the bronchioles or air passageways in the nose and mouth are constricted leading to lack of oxygen. THC, a component in cannabis, helps open up these airways.


A French study in 2014 found out that THC or tetrahydrocannabinol activated CB1 receptors in the body (can be found in the brain, nervous system, lungs, liver, and kidneys) in 88 healthy and asthmatic subjects. In healthy patients, airway constriction or bronchial spasm was induced through electrical stimulation. When CB1 receptors are activated, the constricted airways expanded leading to reduced symptoms of asthma. 


A year later, another study in the UK supported the French research highlighting THC’s anti-inflammatory and antitussive properties.  The researchers found out that THC opens the airways and improves oxygen flow. 


While emerging research reveal that medical cannabis can help improve the quality of life for patients with asthma, it’s worth noting that more research is needed on its long-term effects.

Managing Asthma with Medical Cannabis in Maryland


The jury’s still out there if THC and other components of cannabis can help control asthma in the long run. The growing acceptance of medical marijuana will hopefully lead to more in-depth research on the subject. 


Looking to try alternative treatments like medical cannabis in asthma in Maryland? Get in touch with Dr. Hauser. 


With a warm, welcoming clinic in Frederick,  Dr. Hauser is an integrative and functional medicine practitioner in Maryland who’s open to a discussion with patients who are interested in experimenting with medical cannabis in conjunction with their standard medical treatments. If you’re curious, here’s what some patients have to say about their experience with Dr. Hauser. 


Are you looking for a dispensary in Maryland to talk to about marijuana and ADHD management? Contact Kannavis Dispensary-Urbana to learn more.