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Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) – Medical Marijuana Research Overview

15 February, 2017
The following information is presented for educational purposes only. Medical Marijuana Inc. provides this information to provide an understanding of the potential applications of cannabidiol. Links to third party websites do not constitute an endorsement of these organizations by Medical Marijuana Inc. and none should be inferred.

The third leading cause of death in the United States, COPD is a group of lung diseases that block airflow and make it difficult to breath. Research indicates that cannabis can help patients manage the pulmonary diseases by reducing airway inflammation and causing bronchodilation.

Overview of COPD
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a progressive inflammatory lung disease that obstructs airflow to the lungs and makes it difficult to breathe. In the United States, COPD is most commonly associated with the development of emphysema and chronic bronchitis.

When a person has COPD, less air flows in and out of the airways because either they lose their elastic quality or make more mucus than usual, causing clogging. In chronic bronchitis, the walls of the bronchial tubes become thick and inflamed. In emphysema, the walls between the air sacs can be destroyed, reducing airflow.

COPD is caused by long-term exposure to irritating particulate matter or gases. The number one cause of COPD is cigarette smoking, but other irritants like secondhand smoke, air pollution and workplace exposure to dust and smoke can also pose problems. The disease develops slowly and symptoms get worse over time until even the most basic physical activities, like walking or cooking, became too difficult.

The symptoms associated with COPD typically include the coughing up of large amounts of mucus, shortness of breath, wheezing, and chest tightness. Symptoms often don’t appear until significant damage to the lungs has already occurred. A major cause of disability, COPD is most commonly diagnosed in middle-aged or older adults.

COPD has been shown to increase the risk of respiratory infections, heart problems, lung cancer, high blood pressure and depression.

There is no cure for COPD and as of now, damage to the airways and lungs are irreversible. However, treatments can help control symptoms and reduce the risk of complications and exacerbations. Bronchodilators are medications that can be used to relax the muscles around the airways. Inhaled steroids help reduce airway inflammation.

Findings: Effects of Cannabis on COPD
Studies indicate that cannabis could potentially be therapeutically beneficial for managing acute attacks of airway constriction due to inflammation, thereby acting as a preventative measure for patients with COPD. Cannabis has been shown through numerous studies to have efficacy for reducing inflammation, suggesting it could be effective for helping manage inflamed airways in those with chronic bronchitis5,12,17.

Two of the major cannabinoids found in cannabis, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) have shown in several studies to have anti-inflammatory benefits through a variety of mechanisms23. THC and CBD interact with the endocannabinoid system’s cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2) to help the body maintain homeostasis. The activation of CB1 and CB2 receptors has shown to reduce airway inflammation4,8. A research review concluded that CBD has a potent anti-inflammatory effect and also improves lung function, suggesting it could be a useful therapeutic tool for the treatment of inflammatory lung diseases16. In an animal study, CBD was shown to have anti-inflammatory effects following acute lung injury9. Studies have also found that terpenes, the aromatic compounds found in cannabis, show anti-inflammatory benefits9.

Some research has also shown that the cannabinoids found in cannabis can have bronchodilatory effects, thereby decreasing resistance in the respiratory airway and increasing airflow to the lungs19. One study found that cannabinoids’ activation of the CB1 receptor inhibits contraction of the smooth muscle surrounding the lungs to dilate the bronchial tubes and further open up the airways9.

It’s important to note that findings in several studies suggest that the smoking of marijuana may increase the prevalence of acute and chronic bronchitis due to irritants entering the lungs20. Heavy smoking of marijuana on its own can cause airway obstruction1,25. These findings suggest that patients with COPD should stick with cannabis products that are delivered through methods other than smoking, such as cannabis oils and edibles.

States That Have Approved Medical Marijuana for COPD
While no states have approved medical marijuana specifically for the treatment of COPD, several states will consider approving medical marijuana for the treatment of other conditions, but require an approval or a recommendation by a physician. These states include: California (any debilitating illness where the medical use of marijuana has been recommended by a physician), Connecticut (other medical conditions may be approved by the Department of Consumer Protection), Massachusetts (other conditions as determined in writing by a qualifying patient’s physician), Nevada (other conditions subject to approval), Oregon (other conditions subject to approval), Rhode Island (other conditions subject to approval), and Washington (any “terminal or debilitating condition”).

In Washington D.C., any condition can be approved for medical marijuana as long as a DC-licensed physician recommends the treatment.

Recent Studies on Cannabis’ Effect on COPD

  1. Aldington, S., Williams, M., Nowitz, M., Weatherall, M., Pritchard, A., McNaughton, A., Robinson, G., and Beasley, R. (2007). Effects of cannabis on pulmonary structure, function and symptoms. Thorax, 62(12), 1058–1063. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2094297/.
  2. Belvisi, M.G. (2008). Preclinical assessment of novel therapeutics on the cough reflex: cannabinoid agonists as potential antitussives. Lung, 186, Suppl 1, S66-9. Retrieved from http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00408-007-9028-8.
  3. Bento, A. F., Marcon, R., Dutra, R. C., Claudino, R. F., Cola, M., Pereira Leite, D. F., and Calixto, J. B. (2011). β-Caryophyllene Inhibits Dextran Sulfate Sodium-Induced Colitis in Mice through CB2 Receptor Activation and PPARγ Pathway. The American Journal of Pathology, 178(3), 1153–1166. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3070571/.
  4. Braun, A., Engel, T., Aguilar-Pimentel, J.A., Zimmer, A., Jakob, T., Behrendt, H, and Mempel, M. (2011, April). Beneficial effects of cannabinoids (CB) in a murine model of allergen-induced airway inflammation: role of CB1/CB2 receptors. Immunobiology, 216(4), 466-76. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0171298510001592.
  5. Burstein, S. H., and Zurier, R. B. (2009). Cannabinoids, Endocannabinoids, and Related Analogs in Inflammation. The AAPS Journal, 11(1), 109. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2664885/.
  6. COPD. (2016, July 12). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/copd/home/ovc-20204882.
  7. Costola-de-Souza, C., Ribeiro, A., Ferraz-de-Paula, V., Calefi, A.S., Aloia, T.P.A., Gimenes-Júnior, J.A., de Almedia, V.I., Pinheiro, M.L., and Palermo-Neto, J. (2013). Monoacylglycerol Lipase (MAGL) Inhibition Attenuates Acute Lung Injury in Mice. PLoS ONE, 8(10), e77706. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3808422/.
  8. Ferrini, M.E., Hong, S., Stierle, A., Stierle, D., Stella, N., Roberts, K., and Jaffar, Z. (2016, December 19). CB2 receptors regulate natural killer cells that limit allergic airway inflammation in a murine model of asthma. Allergy, doi: 10.1111/all.13107. [Epuc ahead of print]. Retrieved from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/wol1/doi/10.1111/all.13107/full.
  9. Grassin-Delyle, S., Naline, E., Buenestado, A., Faisy, C., Alvarez, J.C., Salvator, H., Abrial, C., Advenier, C., Zemoura, L., Devillier, P. (2014). Cannabinoids inhibit cholinergic contraction in human airways through prejunctional CB1 receptors. British Journal of Pharmacology, 171(11), 2767–2777. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4243853/.
  10. Hartley, J.P.R., Nogrady, S.G., and Graham, J.D.P. (1978). Brochodiltor Effect of Δ1-Tetrahydrocannabinol. British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, 5, 523-535. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1429361/pdf/brjclinpharm00292-0050.pdf.
  11. Kemper, J.A., Honig, E.G., and Martin, G.S. (2015, February). The effects of marijuana exposure on expiratory airflow. A study of adults who participated in the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Study. Annals of American Thoracic Society, 12(2), 135-41. Retrieved from http://www.atsjournals.org/doi/full/10.1513/AnnalsATS.201407-333OC.
  12. Kozela, E., Pietr, M., Juknat, A., Rimmerman, N., Levy, R., and Vogel, Z. (2010). Cannabinoids Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol and Cannabidiol Differentially Inhibit the Lipopolysaccharide-activated NF-κB and Interferon-β/STAT Proinflammatory Pathways in BV-2 Microglial Cells. The Journal of Biological Chemistry, 285(3), 1616–1626. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2804319/.
  13. Patel, H.J., Birrell, M.A., Crispino, N., Hele, D.J., Venkatesan, P., Barnes, P.J., Yacoub, M., and Belvisi, M.G. (2003). Inhibition of guinea-pig and human sensory nerve activity and the cough reflex in guinea-pigs by cannabinoid (CB2) receptor activation. British Journal of Pharmacology, 140(2), 261–268. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1574031/.
  14. Pickering, E.E., Semple, S.J., Nazir, M.S., Murphy, K., Snow, T.M., Cummin, A.R., Moosavi, S.H., Guz, A., and Holdcroft, A. (2011). Cannabinoid effects on ventilation and breathlessness: a pilot study of efficacy and safety. Chronic Respiratory Disease, 8(2), 109-18. Retrieved from http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/1479972310391283.
  15. Ribeiro, A., Ferraz-de-Paula, V., Pinheiro, M.L., Vitoretti, L.B., Mariano-Souza, D.P, Quinteiro-Filho, W.M., Akamine, A.T., Almeida, V.I., Quevedo, J., Dal-Pizzol, F., Hallak, J.E., Zuardi, A.W., Crippa, J.A., and Palermo-Neto, J. (2012, March). Cannabidiol, a non-psychotropic plant-derived cannabinoid, decreases inflammation in a murine model of acute lung injury: role for the adenosine A(2A) receptor. European Journal of Pharmacology, 678(1-3), 78-85. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0014299912000052.
  16. Ribeiro, A., Almeida, V.I., Costola-de-Souza, C., Ferraz-de-Paula, V., Pinheiro, M.L., Vitoretti, L.B., Gimenes-Junior, J.A., Akamine, A.T., Crippa, J.A., Tavare-de-Lima, W., and Palermo-Neto, J. (2015, February). Cannabidiol improves lung function and inflammation in mice submitted to LPS-induced acute lung injury. Immunopharmacology and Immunotoxicology, 37(1), 35-41. Retrieved from http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.3109/08923973.2014.976794?needAccess=true.
  17. Staiano, R.I., Loffredo, S., Borriello, F., Iannotti, F.A., Piscitelli, F., Orlando, P., Secondo, A., Granata, F., Lepore, M.T., Fiorelli, A., Varricchi, G., Santini, M., Triggiani, M., Di Marzo, V., and Marone, G. (2016, April). Human lung-resident macrophages express CB1 and CB2 receptors whose activation inhibits the release of angiogenic and lymphangiogenic factors. Journal of Leukocyte Biology, 99(4), 531-40. Retrieved from http://www.jleukbio.org/content/99/4/531.long.
  18. Tan, W.C., Lo, C., Jong, A., Xing, L., FitzGerald, M.J., Vollmer, W.M., Buist, S.A., and Sin, D.D., for the Vancouver Burden of Obstructive Lung Disease (BOLD) Research Group. (2009). Marijuana and chronic obstructive lung disease: a population-based study. CMAJ : Canadian Medical Association Journal, 180(8), 814–820. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2665947/.
  19. Tashkin, D.P., Shapiro, B.J., and Frank, I.M. (1974, April). Acute effects of smoked marijuana and oral delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol on specific airway conductance in asthmatic subjects. The American Review of Respiratory Disease, 109(4), 420-8. Retrieved from http://www.atsjournals.org/doi/pdf/10.1164/arrd.1974.109.4.420.
  20. Tashkin, D.P., Baldwin, G.C., Sarafian, T., Dubinett, S., and Roth, M.D. (2002, November). Respiratory and immunologic consequences of marijuana smoking. Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, 42 (11 Suppl), 71S-81S. Retrieved from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/j.1552-4604.2002.tb06006.x/abstract.
  21. Tashkin, D.P. (2009). Does smoking marijuana increase the risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease? CMAJ : Canadian Medical Association Journal, 180(8), 797–798. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2665954/.
  22. Tashkin, D.P. (2013, June). Effects of marijuana smoking on the lung. Annals of American Thoracic Society, 10(3), 239-47. Retrieved from http://www.atsjournals.org/doi/full/10.1513/AnnalsATS.201212-127FR.
  23. Turcotte, C., Blanchet, M.R., Laviolette, M., and Flamand, N. (2016, September 15). Impact of cannabis, cannabinoids, and endocannabinoids in the lungs. Frontiers in Pharmacology, 7, 317. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5023687/.
  24. What is COPD? (2014, May 22). National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Retrieved from https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/copd.
  25. Yayan, J., and Rasche, K. (2016). Damaging Effects of Cannabis Use on the Lungs. Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology, 952, 31-34. Retrieved from http://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/5584_2016_71.
Medical Cannabis and COPD: What’s the Real Story?

Sixteen million Americans are currently living with a diagnosis of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates up to another 11 million people have the disease but have not yet been formally diagnosed with it. A blanket diagnosis for a group of diseases of the lungs that slowly robs sufferers of the ability to breathe through a vicious cycle of inflammation, tissue damage, and constriction of the sacs in the lungs (alveoli) that are responsible for exchanging oxygen and carbon monoxide as we breathe, COPD is the third most common cause of death in the nation.

The COPD label encompasses two of the most common lung disorders in North America—emphysema and chronic bronchitis—both associated with cigarette smoking. Exposure to inhaled environmental pollutants like sawdust, ash, industrial and secondhand smoke, chemicals, and other toxins is also a known risk factor.

When Star Trek actor Leonard Nimoy passed away from complications of COPD in 2015 (even though he had given up cigarettes 30 years prior), public awareness of the condition grew. Troubled British diva Amy Winehouse was reportedly diagnosed with the disease four years before her premature death from alcohol poisoning, at just 24 years of age, while former supermodel Christy Turlington discovered at age 31 that she, too, had early-stage COPD, proving nobody is too young to develop this chronic, progressive, and irreversible breathing disorder.

While there is currently no cure for COPD, emerging research into the anti-inflammatory and bronchodilating properties of medical cannabis suggests marijuana may offer promising relief for COPD’s debilitating symptoms and discomfort, depending on the route of administration.


COPD Symptoms and Diagnosis
COPD develops in stages. At stage 1, many people may write off symptoms because they are typically minor and mimic those of a cold or allergies, but this is the stage at which the

disease is most treatable, at which progression to later stages may be arrested or prevented. So, if you or a loved one or a smoker and develop these symptoms, don’t hesitate to see a doctor, who can perform lung function tests that determine how much your lungs can hold and how quickly you can exhale; these tests, among others, can determine whether lungs are damaged very early in the disease process.

  • Ongoing cough
  • Increased mucus production
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Fatigue
Sufferers in later stages of the disease may face greater rates of disability, even requiring oxygen to accomplish basic tasks like bathing or brushing their teeth, due to damaged alveoli and narrowed airways (bronchi) when they go about everyday activities.

The disease is commonly treated with short-acting and long-acting inhalers to temporarily open the airways, pharmaceutical anti-inflammatories, and steroids to keep the bronchi and alveoli functioning as well as possible, as well as oxygen in later stages of the disease. Many of these drugs, like most pharmaceuticals, have side effects.

Avoiding COPD Triggers
Those who have been diagnosed with COPD should first seek to control their environment to reduce conditions that may trigger an immediate, acute attack of narrowed lung pathways. These include:

  • Air pollution
  • Chemical-based, volatile cleaning solutions and supplies that produce inhalable vapors, such as bleach and ammonia
  • Cold air
  • Dust
  • Perfumes, fragrances, and colognes
  • Pollen and pet dander (if you suffer from allergies)
  • Smoke from any source, including cigarettes, candles, fireplaces, etc.
Potential Benefits of Cannabis for COPD

Several research studies suggest medical marijuana could help with the characteristic acute airway constriction attacks due to inflammation that COPD sufferers live with, which may indicate a place for cannabis as a preventive due to its anti-inflammatory properties. Chronic bronchitis, one of the two conditions that fall under the umbrella of COPD, is an inflammatory condition.

Both Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) have been shown to interact with the body’s cannabinoid receptors to help reduce airway inflammation in allergic and asthmatic inflammation; a study in mice suggested that CBD improves overall lung function, which suggests this cannabinoid may be therapeutically useful for inflammatory lung conditions including COPD. And surprisingly, a Canadian study of smokers of both tobacco and marijuana showed that those smokers who smoked only cannabis showed no increased risk of inflammatory lung disease, while those who smoked tobacco alone or tobacco plus marijuana did experience greater rates of inflammatory lung disease.

The Best Routes of Administration for Medical Cannabis for COPD
In addition to anti-inflammatory properties that may help to temporarily open constricted airways and promote easier breathing, medical cannabis has other well-known benefits that can support patients with COPD.

  • It promotes better sleep, which is critical for healing and cellular repair
  • Cannabis supports the immune system
  • Marijuana is an expectorant, helping the lungs to bring up/expel excess phlegm from the lungs
  • Medical cannabis reduces pain

But because COPD patients have particular sensitivities to the irritants and potential contaminants that may be present in smoked cannabis, the route of administration is particularly important for this population. Joints are typically unfiltered, which is obviously not optimal for a patient who is already struggling with a lung condition that is sensitized to particulate irritation, and while inhaling smoke that has been pulled through water via a pipe may reduce the likelihood of breathing in bits of errant plant matter, the fact remains, it is still smoke.

To eliminate potential negative effects of smoking cannabis for COPD, it can be delivered through alternative routes that bypass and protect delicate lung tissue:

  • Vaporization
  • Cannabis Oil
  • Edibles
  • Cannabis Tea
  • Transdermal Patches to name a few.
Patients Speak

COPD patients and other patients with lung conditions, including metastatic cancer that has taken root in the lungs, have reported success with cannabis extracts taken orally. Donna Esposito, a patient whose stage IV melanoma metastasized to her lungs, says: “I have been fighting this new challenge since 2013, when six lesions were found in my right lung and claimed inoperable. Doctors predicted I would be dead by that December. You cannot always believe what you are told. You must believe in yourself and in your choices, and always seek out alternative treatments.” She uses using FECO oil (Full Extract Cannabis Oil) and as of February, 2017, reported that as of February, 2017, she has been taking nothing for her condition but cannabis oil; hers is not the only success story. Jeff Waters, who was diagnosed with stage 2 and progressed to stage 3, used cannabis oil to treat his own COPD. He recovered and is now a life coach and dedicated to spreading the word about his own experience with the benefits of medical marijuana for the condition.

Until science brings COPD sufferers a cure, patients may take some comfort in the knowledge that there is a safe, natural means of supporting their health with a natural anti-inflammatory, bronchodilating, antibacterial and pain-relieving non-pharmaceutical therapeutic alternative.
I thought it might be relevant to link a large scale scientific review of the research literature on COPD that I provided in the following thread:


The whole pdf book 'The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids: The Current State of Evidence and Recommendations for Research' from the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine is available for free download by following the links in the thread above. It contains information about COPD and cannabis and a great many other different conditions.

Page 196 of that report gives an overview of the findings of a systematic review of all scholarly literature about COPD and cannabis quoted below:

"BOX 7-1 Summary of Chapter Conclusions*

There is substantial evidence of a statistical association between cannabis
smoking and:

• Worse respiratory symptoms and more frequent chronic bronchitis episodes
(long-term cannabis smoking) (7-3a)

There is moderate evidence of a statistical association between cannabis
smoking and:

• Improved airway dynamics with acute use, but not with chronic use (7-1a)

• Higher forced vital capacity (FVC) (7-1b)

There is moderate evidence of a statistical association between the cessation
of cannabis smoking and:

• Improvements in respiratory symptoms (7-3b)

There is limited evidence of a statistical association between cannabis
smoking and:

• An increased risk of developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
(COPD) when controlled for tobacco use (occasional cannabis smoking)

There is no or insufficient evidence to support or refute a statistical association
between cannabis smoking and:

• Hospital admissions for COPD (7-2b)

• Asthma development or asthma exacerbation (7-4)"

The detail of these conclusions can be viewed by all in the abovementioned thread :D
I wasn't sure whether or not to include the last paragraph with my post... but then figured why not? If there is someone interested in contacting this organization regarding their stem cell research, it's up to them. And it was available in the link so.... just know that I am not encouraging or endorsing.

Can Marijuana Help COPD?

23 Mar 2015 Posted by Lung Institute


Has a new form of treatment been discovered?

For those who suffer from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and other respiratory illnesses, the desire to find a form of treatment that can address their symptoms without negatively affecting their health can be all-consuming. Today, medical marijuana is legal in 23 states and Washington D.C., leading many Americans to ask, “What are the real benefits of medical marijuana?” Although studies on the subject have been sparse given the mixed legality of the substance, there are those that state that marijuana is beneficial and others that claim it is only harmful. Though the topic is a controversial one, as time moves forward, the use of medical marijuana has generally become more widely accepted.

With your health in mind, the Lung Institute is here to provide the facts on this ongoing issue, and find an answer to the question: Can Marijuana Help COPD?

COPD and Marijuana

The symptoms of COPD are brought about by acute inflammation of the airways, obstructing and inhibiting normal breathing. In treating COPD, medications such as inhalers and corticosteroids work as anti-inflammatory agents reducing inflammation and dilating the respiratory airways. However, these forms of medication can be expensive over time and often come with negative side-effects from weight gain, blood sugar imbalance, and infection.

Recently it has been found that medical marijuana and its reported efficacy in treating respiratory illness has been linked to anti-inflammatory properties. These chemicals or cannabinoids are known to have several additional functions as well:

  • Promote better sleep
  • Serve to support the immune system
  • Possess anti-microbial properties
  • Work as an expectorant (reduce phlegm)
  • Can relieve pain
Despite the positive benefits of marijuana, the issue still remains that the act of smoking is unequivocally harmful to respiratory health.

Marijuana: The Act of Smoking

Though many proponents of medical marijuana may cite the benefits of the drug on respiratory health, what they often overlook are the incredibly negative effects of long term smoking on the lungs. According to the CDC, marijuana smoke contains over 700 chemicals and deposits nearly four times as much tar in the lungs as cigarette smoke.

Advocates of medical marijuana often believe that marijuana is inherently better for respiratory health than tobacco. However, marijuana can just as often be worse. Marijuana cigarettes or joints do not contain a filter, and due to the method in which it is inhaled (deeply), and held within the lungs (longer), the lungs are exposed to the harmful effects of marijuana smoke longer than traditional cigarette smoking. But does marijuana have to be smoked?

Alternatives to Smoking

As medical and recreational marijuana use has spread into the mainstream, the methods in which it is consumed have rapidly advanced. Where smoking was once the traditional form of consumption, now methods such as vaporizing and eating ‘edibles’ have become the norm, effectively eliminating the adverse effects of smoke inhalation.

  • Vaporizing- a method in which marijuana is heated at a cooler temperature (329 F) than required for burning (combustion) releasing the active ingredients of marijuana into a safer gas or vapor.
  • Edible consumption- a method in which active ingredients are essentially cooked out of the marijuana and added to food. Typically these chemicals are reduced down to a simple oil, this oil can be used in the creation of baked goods such as cookies, muffins, brownies, candy and even lemonade.
Medical marijuana can serve as a temporary method of treatment, but the inability to avoid the side effects (being ‘high’) and the mixed legality of it leaves its use as a future form of medication uncertain. Although COPD currently has no cure, new discoveries are being made every day in the field of stem cell research. As the scientific community continues to put their best minds to the task of solving the problems and complications of the human body, the Lung Institute will continue to bring these advancements to the public with the hope of bettering quality of life for those who need it most.

If you’re looking to make a profound change in your life or the life of someone you love, the time is now. If you or a loved one suffers from COPD, or another lung disease, the Lung Institute may be able to help with a variety of stem cell treatment options. Contact us at (888) 510-7519 today to find out if you qualify for stem cell therapy.
Medical Marijuana and Emphysema

Many states have approved medical cannabis for a multitude of qualifying conditions, and the list of ailments qualifying for marijuana keeps growing. Below we learn about emphysema and the role medical marijuana can play in dealing with the condition.

What Is Emphysema?
Emphysema is a condition of the lungs that makes you short of breath. Patients have damaged alveoli, or lung air sacs, in some instances of the disease.

The air sacs’ inner walls weaken and rupture over time, which causes larger air spaces instead of numerous little ones. When this happens, the surface area of your lungs reduces and limits how much oxygen gets into your bloodstream. When exhaling, your damaged air sacs don’t work as they should. They trap old air and don’t leave enough room for the new, fresh oxygen to enter.

Often emphysema patients have chronic bronchitis, too. This condition is where your bronchial tubes become inflamed and cause you to have a persistent cough. Chronic bronchitis and emphysema are two types of COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. COPD is an overall term for several different types of pulmonary disease, and the term sometimes can include asthma and bronchiectasis.

Two main causes of emphysema are known to exist. These are:

  1. Smoking
Tobacco smoke is the primary culprit most of the time. While physicians aren’t quite sure how tobacco smoke damages your air sac linings, WebMD reports people who smoke are six times more likely to develop emphysema. And, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, among patients with COPD, up to 75 percent of them either smoke or did smoke.


Emphysema doesn’t have a cure, but if you smoke with the condition and decide to quit, it can help slow down any damage smoking causes to your lungs.

  1. AAT Deficiency
AAT stands for Alpha-1 antitrypsin and is a natural protein circulating in your blood. It’s responsible for keeping your white blood cells from causing any damage to your healthy tissues. These cells are vital for fighting infections. Over time, if you have a serious AAT deficiency, you may develop emphysema.

Types of Emphysema
Two primary types of emphysema are:

  1. Panlobular (panacinar): Involving the whole alveolus systematically, Panlobular is a typical pattern for AAT deficiency, which occurs mostly in your lung’s lower regions.
  2. Centrilobular (centriacinar): Involves the upper lobes primarily, the centrilobular type of emphysema affects your respiratory bronchioles in your lung’s upper regions mostly. It doesn’t affect the alveoli. Centrilobular is a typical pattern for smokers.
History of Emphysema and COPD
COPD isn’t a new disorder. Doctors, in the past, may have called it by different names, though. Swiss physician Théophile Bonet called it “voluminous lungs” in 1679, while Italian anatomist Giovanni Morgagni in 1769 made a report of 19 incidences of “turgid” lungs.

British physician Charles Badham referred to chronic bronchitis in 1814 as part of COPD and a disabling health condition. He described the excessive mucus and ongoing cough as “catarrh.” In 1821, Physician René Laënnec, the inventor of the stethoscope, identified emphysema as being another COPD component.

Symptoms of Emphysema
You may experience signs and symptoms of emphysema such as:

  • Wheezing
  • Coughing
  • Increased mucus production
  • Chest tightness
  • Shortness of breath
You may go years without symptoms and still have emphysema. Shortness of breath is the primary symptom of emphysema and tends to begin gradually. For instance, you might only notice a shortness of breath during exercise. However, eventually, you’ll probably begin experiencing shortness of breath while resting, too.

As your emphysema worsens over time, you may begin to lose your appetite, feel tired, have poor sexual functioning and feel depressed. But, before this happens, your only symptoms might be a slow occurrence of shortness of breath and fatigue — and it’s easy for you to mistake these for other conditions. With emphysema, you’re also at a higher risk of bronchitis, pneumonia and other lung infections.

Consult with your physician if you experience any of these following symptoms:

  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath when climbing stairs or during light exercise
  • Smokers’ cough or long-term cough
  • Ongoing fatigue
  • Long-term mucus production
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Exhaustion
  • Depression
  • Weight loss
Also, get medical attention right away if you can’t climb stairs due to shortness of breath, you aren’t mentally alert or your fingernails or lips turn gray or blue with exertion.

In many cases, you may not notice symptoms until you have damage to over half of your lung tissue, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

Effects of Emphysema
Physical complications of emphysema can include:

  • Collapsed lung: You may develop bullae (large air pockets) in your lungs, causing them to burst and lead to pneumothorax or lung deflation.
  • Pneumonia: You may develop an infection in your bronchioles and alveoli. When you have emphysema, you’re more susceptible to pneumonia.
  • Heart problems: Your heart may need to pump harder to move your blood through your lungs. Indications of this include a decrease in capillaries, damaged alveoli and a lower level of oxygen in your blood. These add strain to your heart over time.
Mental Effects of Emphysema and COPD
Along with the physical effects of emphysema, numerous cognitive and psychological difficulties may result from emphysema. Behavioral and psychological changes can affect COPD patients. There’s 30 to 50 percent psychiatric disorder prevalence based off a thorough review of over 80 studies.


Anxiety and depression seem to appear often in COPD patients, with 10 to 79.1 percent prevalence in depression. Around 23 percent of COPD patients had major depression. Reports also show a high prevalence of poor quality of life in COPD patients.

Emphysema Statistics
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), for the year 2015:

The Lung Institute says:

Current Treatments Available for Emphysema and Its Side Effects
The goal of emphysema treatment is preventing complications, providing symptom relief and slowing down the disease’s progression. Doctors urge emphysema patients to quit smoking since it further damages the lungs.

Emphysema treatments include:

  1. Medications
Bronchodilator medications are taken orally or inhaled through aerosol sprays, bronchodilator medications relax and open your lung’s air passages providing symptom relief. Side effects of bronchodilator medications may include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headaches
  • Palpitations
  • Insomnia
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Rapid heartbeat
  1. Steroids
You inhale steroids through an aerosol spray to relieve emphysema symptoms related to bronchitis and asthma. Inhaled steroids, over time, may cause side effects like high blood pressure, weakened bones, cataracts and diabetes.

  1. Antibiotics
Antibiotics help patients with emphysema fight respiratory infections like pneumonia, acute bronchitis and the flu. Side effects of antibiotics may include:

  • Upset stomach
  • Rash
  • Severe allergic reaction
  • Diarrhea or soft stools
  • Thrush or other yeast (fungal) infections
  1. Vaccines
Emphysema patients should get a pneumonia shot every five to seven years and flu shot every year to prevent infections. All vaccines have the potential of causing side effects. These are minor side effects for the most part like a low-grade fever or arm soreness, and they typically take a couple days to disappear. Although rare, more serious side effects may include serious allergic reactions and seizures.


  1. Protein Therapy
When patients’ emphysema is due to an AAT deficiency, they may receive AAT infusions to help slow down lung damage progression. High doses of protein therapy may cause side effects such as:

  • Nausea
  • Increased bowel movements
  • Cramps
  • Bloating
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Thirst
  • Reduced appetite
  1. Oxygen Therapy
As your disease progresses, you may find it harder to breathe by yourself and might need supplemental oxygen. Oxygen may come in different forms and devices, such as oxygen-gas cylinders and oxygen concentrators.

  1. Pulmonary Rehabilitation
Pulmonary rehabilitation is a program of education, support and exercises helping you learn how to function and breathe at the highest possible level.

During this program, you will work closely with a specialist team who will assist you in improving your physical condition. They’ll teach you how to effectively manage your emphysema so you’re active longer and healthier once you’ve finished the program. Your doctor will need to refer you and show you have COPD through spirometry test results in order for you to qualify for this program.

During pulmonary rehabilitation, you’ll also learn about:

  • Medications
  • Relaxation
  • Breathing techniques
  • Nutrition
  • Oxygen
  • Performing activities with less shortness of breath
  • Staying healthy and avoiding exacerbations of COPD
  • Travel
You’ll learn coping skills for changes as a result of your COPD like anxiety, depression, panic and more. You’ll meet others going through the same thing with the same feelings and experiences as you.

  1. Surgery or Lung Transplant
With emphysema, you may require a lung transplant or a lung volume reduction surgery where the surgeon removes small parts of the tissue from your damaged lung. Side effects of lung transplant may include:

  • Blood clots and bleeding
  • Kidney damage
  • Malignancies and cancer from immunosuppressants
  • Osteoporosis
  • Stomach problems
  • Diabetes
Before any treatment, sit down with your doctor and discuss any potential side effects so you know what you should expect.

How/Why Marijuana Can Be an Effective Treatment for Emphysema
Smoking cigarettes is the leading risk factor for developing this form of COPD. Since cannabis contains some of the same chemicals and toxins as cigarettes, some are concerned it may also be toxic for your lungs. However, there’s no conclusive link between smoke from weed and damaged lungs.

Also, only several smaller studies have reported a connection between lung cancer and marijuana. However, either researchers used sample sizes that were too small for the studies, or smoking tobacco was not limited as a control factor, so they couldn’t draw a causal connection conclusively.

Studies Showing Positive Effects of Medical Cannabis for Emphysema
Research shows medical marijuana’s strong anti-inflammatory properties could actually help with treating emphysema as well as weight loss and insomnia.

A study in the 1970s compared edible cannabis to albuterol — typically the first medication patients with problems breathing get. Researchers found marijuana acted as a bronchodilator, just like albuterol.

In another published study in 1975 by the American Review of Respiratory Disease, scientists used an induced asthma model in which they induced bronchospasms (airway contractions) in healthy participants in an attempt to replicate asthma. They found cannabis with only two percent THC help relieve bronchospasm symptoms. A lot of medical cannabis for emphysema strains these days have over 10 to 20 percent THC.

After the participants smoked 0.5 grams of the test cannabis, they immediately recovered from the over inflation of their lungs and the bronchospasms.

Emphysema Symptoms and Medical Marijuana Studies
There is increasing research and study into the efficacy of marijuana for inflammation, particularly concerning Chron’s disease, which is often debilitating. The very first study published on the topic showed there was a significant reduction in symptoms, need for other medications and even surgeries among patients who were given medical marijuana to treat their Chron’s disease.

With this success has come the idea medical marijuana can help with other forms of inflammation, and it appears certain components of the marijuana plant can do just that. As inflammation can increase difficulty breathing in patients with emphysema, it follows that medical marijuana may prove to be an effective treatment for emphysema and other chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases in that regard.

Interestingly, inhaled marijuana can act as a small airway bronchodilator, which is a treatment for conditions like asthma and emphysema. According to one study, the effect lasts at least two hours. The problem with this treatment is inhaled marijuana is not a treatment option for individuals with emphysema.

However, vaporized marijuana is considered much safer and may eventually be widely considered a safe alternative by the medical community. It is certainly a safer alternative, but whether it is a safe replacement for existing bronchodilators in emphysema patients remains to be seen. The goal is to prevent damage to the lungs, and other treatments may be more helpful in that area, despite the fact medical marijuana definitely works. The benefits have to outweigh the risks, and the medicine chosen must be the safest possible.

What Side Effects/ Symptoms of Emphysema Can Medical Marijuana Treat?
Medical marijuana for emphysema may provide relief from the side effects of the condition, including:

  • Pain
  • Insomnia
  • Inflammation
  • Reduces phlegm (expectorant)
  • Possesses antimicrobial properties
  • Helps with the immune system
Treatment for emphysema includes inhaled or ingested anti-inflammatory medication, steroids, oxygen therapy, antibiotics to eliminate respiratory infections that may cause more damage, avoiding all kinds of smoke, surgery to remove diseased parts of the lung, lung transplants and diet changes. Treatment for complications, such as collapsed lung and pneumonia, may also be warranted.

As mentioned above, there is currently no known cure for emphysema. While medical marijuana is known to be an efficient treatment for a number of conditions, there is no evidence at this time it can cure emphysema. Therefore, individuals should follow the advice of their physicians when trying to slow the progression of emphysema and make life more comfortable.

Medical marijuana and marijuana derivatives may help with some symptoms. However, smoke should be avoided by emphysema sufferers at all times. Therefore, inhaled marijuana should not be considered as a treatment for emphysema. Luckily, there are several other methods of obtaining the medicinal components of marijuana without having to inhale it. It can be eaten, taken as a pill, injected and even administered topically.

Lung diseases like emphysema can cause pain while breathing. Treatment for this pain will depend on the severity of it. Mild to moderate pain can be treated with medical marijuana. Both THC and the non-psychoactive cannabinoids in medical marijuana have been shown to act as pain relievers in various studies. Studies conducted at the University of California, San Francisco, showed marijuana cannabinoids could decrease pain in chronic pain sufferers, thus decreasing the amount of potentially hazardous medications they must ingest to be pain free. A double-blind study utilizing placebo controls showed THC administered with codeine in cancer patients offered much more pain relief than those who were given a placebo rather than THC.

Studies on Medical Cannabis and Inflammation
Studies show cannabis and emphysema treatment provides potential therapeutic benefits to managing inflammation induced acute airway constriction attacks. Because of this, it’s seen as a preventative measure for COPD patients. Numerous studies show cannabis reduces inflammation, thereby suggesting it’s an effective treatment for managing inflamed airways in patients who have chronic bronchitis.


CBD improves lung function due to its potent anti-inflammatory effect, which suggests it also is a therapeutic treatment of inflammatory lung diseases.

Best Strains of Marijuana to Use for Emphysema Symptoms and Treatment Side Effects
COPD produces physiological symptoms like:

  • Dyspnea or shortness of breath
  • Sputum production and cough
  • Reduced quality of life
  • Intolerance to exercise
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
Since COPD can be difficult to treat due to problems with alveolar wall formation stimulation, the goal is mainly focused on treating the symptoms of the condition instead of slowing or healing its progression.

COPD patients may find relief from cannabis and emphysema and COPD treatment because cannabinoids can:

Strains to Treat COPD Symptoms
The best strains for COPD symptoms are indica-dominant hybrids, but others may help, too. Some strains you may want to try for symptoms of COPD include:

  • Dynamite (Hybrid)
  • Lavender Kush (Indica)
  • Alien Trainwreck (Hybrid)
  • Pineapple (Hybrid)
  • Chem Dawg (Hybrid)
  • Purple Kush (Indica)
  • Black Magic Kush (Indica-dominant Hybrid)
  • Northern Lights #1 (Indica)
  • Afgoo (Indica-dominant Hybrid)
Smoking these strains may not benefit you as much as other methods if you’re suffering with a respiratory condition. The good news is there are other effective methods.

Best Methods of Marijuana Treatment to Use to Treat Side Effects and Symptoms of Emphysema
Many people prefer alternatives to smoking marijuana-and-emphysema strains like:

  • Eating edibles: These produce longer effects and are more potent.
  • Vaporizing: This releases steam not smoke.
  • Drinking tea: Add hot water, cream and small amounts of weed to black or green tea.
  • Applying tinctures: Effects take around 30 minutes to feel. Place drops under your tongue and let the treatment enter your bloodstream.
Do a little experimenting on your own to find the best method for your symptoms.

Find Emphysema Relief With Medical Marijuana
Begin the process of getting your medical marijuana card and to start feeling relief. Search for a medical marijuana dispensary or look for a doctor to commence your medical cannabis treatment.

I think the key word here might be 'synthetic.'

Researchers at Toronto-based St. Michael’s Hospital find synthetic cannabis compounds associated with higher death rate in older COPD patients

Findings could help determine if cannabinoids should be used with older adults suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.​

Canadian researchers have found the oral synthetic cannabinoids nabilone and dronabinol contribute to negative respiratory health events, including death, in older people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

COPD covers two types of chronic diseases — namely emphysema chronic bronchitis — where the lung’s airways become swollen and partly blocked, reports The Lung Association. “COPD gets worse over time. It cannot be cured, but it can be treated and managed.”

Even with the medications, which contain synthetically made chemicals found in cannabis, being ingested orally, the study published in Thorax found that using cannabinoids was associated with a 64 per cent increase in death among older adults with COPD.

Led by St. Michael’s Hospital of Unity Health Toronto, researchers looked at Ontario health administrative data from 2006 to 2016 involving people 66 and older. These 4,000 people, which excluded patients with malignancy and those receiving palliative care, was split into two groups: older adults with COPD who were new cannabinoid users (had been dispensed nabilone or dronabinol, but not within the last year) and older COPD sufferers not using cannabinoids.

Not only were associated deaths greater, researchers determined that so too were hospitalizations, notes the study, the first published data regarding the impact of cannabinoids on the respiratory health of people with COPD.

“Our study results do not mean that cannabinoid drugs should be never used among older adults with COPD,” Dr. Nicholas Vozoris, the study’s lead author and a respirologist at St. Michael’s Hospital, notes in a statement from St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto. “Rather, our findings should be incorporated by patients and physicians into prescribing decision-making,” says Dr. Vozoris.

Additionally, higher doses of cannabinoids were associated with poorer health outcomes. “Compared to non-users, new higher-dose cannabinoid users had a 178 per cent relative increase in hospitalizations for COPD or pneumonia, and a 231 per cent relative increase in all-cause death,” the statement notes.

Results, Dr. Vozoris says, “highlight the importance of favouring lower over higher cannabinoid doses, when these drugs actually do need to be used.”

Study authors conclude that findings should be considered in decisions to use cannabinoids among older adults with COPD.

This is particularly the case “ as more physicians prescribe cannabinoids to patients with COPD to treat chronic muscle pain, difficulty sleeping and breathlessness,” notes the hospital statement.

“Older adults with COPD represent a group that would likely be more susceptible to cannabinoid-related respiratory side-effects, since older adults less efficiently break down drugs and hence, drug effects can linger in the body for longer,” explains Dr. Vozoris.

Researchers also carried out a sub-analysis exploring the impact that cannabinoid drugs versus opioid drugs had on respiratory outcomes among older adults with COPD. “The research team did not find evidence to support that cannabinoids were a safer choice over opioids for older adults with COPD in so far as respiratory health outcomes,” the statement notes.

Another study involving Dr. Vozoris, published in the European Respiratory Journal, found that opioid use, and in particular generally more potent opioid-only agents, “was associated with increased risk for adverse respiratory outcomes, including respiratory-related mortality, among older adults with COPD.”

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