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Marijuana also known as cannabis, used as a psychoactive drug in all countries around the world refers to extract from the the hemp plant Cannabis sativa. It is the third most common recreational drug and used by 81% of all drug users in USA. Beside its numerous physical effects like lowering of blood pressure, dizziness, increased appetite, dry mouth etc. marijuana has long been reported to relieve symptoms of nausea, pain and even asthma. Ahead are some facts about marijuana effects on the respiratory system regarding asthma patients.

How Does Marijuana Affect Asthma Patients

Asthma is a potential life threatening condition in which person’s airways (trachea, bronchi) become narrow leading to the tracheal muscle spasm, bronchoconstriction, swelling and shortness of breath. Only in America, there are more than 3.5 million people who suffers from this condition. Asthma can be of allergic or chronic type, former being most widely spread.

Although anti-inflammatory drugs are most commonly used as treatment of asthma, however a new research by British Journal of Pharmacology shows the fact that marijuana possess same properties as some asthma medications. Beside this many other medical studies have also shown the opposite effect of cannabis than tobacco as it is primarily involved in dilatation of airways rather than their constriction.

THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is the active ingredient and potent vasodilator in marijuana extracts. It binds with CB1 receptors on airways and blocks the action of acetylcholine (a neurotransmitter released from nerve endings and cause constriction of lungs). There are other numerous cannabis extracts like cannabidiol, cannabinoids and flavonoids that are effective in asthma. Here we have concluded the most effective benefits of cannabis use in asthma patients.


Although it is generally thought that asthma is a genetic disorder, however evidences are there that shows its incidence in early childhood due to infection caused by viruses and bacteria. Most studies revealed that the hidden cause behind early childhood asthma is Streptococcus genus bacteria. Several studies have pointed towards flavonoids having a strong bactericidal effect. Use of cannabis extracts along with common antibiotics such as azithromycin and erythromycin have a potential to ease bacterial infections in asthma.


Inflammation in bronchioles and bronchi is a common symptom of chronic asthmatic patients even in non-attack conditions. However severity of inflammation increases during asthmatic attack and leads to acute episodes of pain in chest. NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) are the most common treatment of bronchial inflammation yet cannabinoids also play an important role as an anti-inflammatory agent. Cannabinoids receptors are present in the endothelial walls of lung tissue, and are thought to be principle regulator of muscle contraction and relaxation and reducing inflammation.

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Bronchodilators in forms of pills, vaporizing agents and inhalers are used as first line of defence against acute spasmodic attacks in asthmatic patients. Several studies have shown the beneficial effect of THC and cannabis in reducing bronchoconstriction and improving dilatation of bronchioles. According to one study in 1974 found that unlike cigarette smoke (that cause constriction of both blood vessels and bronchioles), cannabis smoke cause dilation of lung vessels.

Another study shows the effectiveness of cannabis as bronchodilator substance in the presence of foreign allergen or irritant substance, however it has no or very less effect on bronchiolar dilatation during normal circumstances.

Rita Murphy
Rita Murphy
I treat my rheumatoid arthritis with marijuana. Sometimes I write about it.


  1. Avatar Ken Wolski, RN, MPA says:

    Thanks for this summary. Do you have links to the studies that you refer to in the article?

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