Could Cannabis Help People With Lung Diseases?


There is much talk in medical circles about the use of medical marijuana (or cannabis) for a variety of chronic illnesses, but could it also benefit those living with chronic lung disease?

MORE: How to live your best life with a chronic illness

Medical marijuana is currently legal in 23 states in the U.S., as well as Washington, D.C., but its use is a contentious issue with as many people for it as are against it.

How could medical marijuana help those living with chronic lung diseases? According to the Lung Institute, medical marijuana has been found useful in reducing inflammation, improving sleep, easing pain, supporting the immune system, and reducing phlegm. However, one of the big issues when it comes to using cannabis if you have a pulmonary disease, is smoking.

Smoking cannabis is harmful to those with lung diseases as there is generally no filter on the “joint” and people tend to inhale deeper, leaving the smoke in the lungs for much longer than cigarettes or other tobacco products. The American Thoracic Society strongly argues against the smoking of marijuana, citing that it can cause large air sacs (bullae) to form in the lungs which could pop and cause lung collapse, ironically this is more likely to happen to marijuana smokers who are younger rather than older (under 45).

However, there are alternatives to smoking. Many people who don’t already smoke but want to get the benefits of medical marijuana choose to ingest the product through edible items (such as cookies or brownies). Pulmonary hypertension patients should also be aware that the consumption of cannabis can elevate their heart rate.

Some people may find that medical marijuana offers temporary relief from some of the symptoms of lung disease, but as it also comes with the side effect of getting high, there is a legal, moral and safety dilemma for many.

MORE: Can pulmonary hypertension be prevented?

Pulmonary Hypertension News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

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  1. Trish Duarte says:

    Marta, you need to do more research on true medical marijuana. True medical marijuana is much higher in cannabidiol (CBD) than tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC is the compound in marijuana that gets you high. If you use a medical marijuana that is high in CBD’s and low in THC’s, you shouldn’t get high, unless you ingest too much. Also, there are much different effects from ingesting than from smoking, such as time to notice the effects. I can guarantee that the CBD lotion that I use for the arthritis in my hands does not make me high, but it sure takes away the pain.

  2. Ruth Orozco says:

    Thanks to Trish Duarte for injecting some education into this article! I was just about to refute the misleading and, frankly, fear-inducing misinformation so many authors like this pass on. I do not like the high feeling of THC and have tried the edibles that are mainly CBD. It wasn’t as effective as I would have wished, but many do find relief of symptoms and should be given accurate information about this legal alternative to opioids and other pills that do not help.

  3. Joanne says:

    More research is needed! I’m also interested in learning if CBD could help PH patients with site pain (a side effect from subQ medicine) and the killer gut issues we get from all this vaso-dilation!!

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