The American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology defines asthma as a chronic inflammatory disease that causes a narrowing of the bronchial tubes and constricted breathing. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in 13 people has asthma. In fact, it’s estimated that 26 million Americans suffer from asthma symptoms, six million of those being kids. So not only is asthma an extremely common malady, it’s the most common chronic disease in children. Yet despite its prevalence, it’s unsure what causes asthma as many factors play a role.
How to Treat Asthma
Currently there is no cure for asthma, however, medications can help provide relief from symptoms. Conventional asthma treatments typically include quick-acting rescue inhalers that can treat symptoms and long-term management through inhaled corticosteroids to reduce inflammation and open airways. While medicine can often help allergy sufferers, they alone are often not enough.
CBD for Asthma Relief
It’s important to note that Cannabidiol (CBD) research as a whole is still in its infancy. However, preliminary findings are especially positive toward CBD’s ability to minimize both acute and chronic inflammation. Because asthma is characterized by chronic lung inflammation, use of CBD for asthmatic symptom relief seems promising.
CBD May Help Prevent Asthma Symptoms
One 2008 study performed on guinea pigs examined the role of the body’s Endocannabinoid System (ECS) and its connection with asthmatic symptoms. Specifically, researchers evaluated the ECS’s cannabinoid receptors CB1 (primarily expressed in the central nervous system) and CB2 (primarily expressed in the immune system). Their research confirmed that both cannabinoid receptors are involved in lung protection and that targeting and activating these receptors on the lungs with cannabinoids such as CBD, could potentially prevent many asthma symptoms from occurring.
Additionally, their findings showed that CBD was able to reduce the activation of mast cells. (Mast cells are those responsible for the release of histamines, which are the cause of many allergy symptoms, including difficulty breathing.) This suggests that CBD was able to decrease lung inflammation even when a trigger occurred. Therefore, they concluded CBD to be a positive therapeutic addition to treating asthma and in decreasing the severity of asthmatic attacks.
CBD May Improve Airflow
The University of Florence Italy conducted a follow-up study years later in 2012. They found that by activating these cannabinoid receptors located on the lungs’ bronchi, the effect was the same as a bronchodilator. Bronchodilators are medications that open one’s airway by dilating the bronchi and thus increase airflow to the lungs. In short, they help people who have difficulty breathing to breath better and are commonly used to ease symptoms of asthma. Because CBD works like a key to unlocking and activating these receptors, their findings indicate CBD may help reduce airway inflammation and improve airflow.
CBD as an Anti-Inflammatory
As previously mentioned, CBD has consistently been shown to reduce inflammation. It’s ability to decrease lung and airway inflammation was corroborated by a recent study published in 2019 in the European Journal of Pharmacology. After inducing mice with allergic asthma, the findings revealed that “CBD treatment, regardless of dosage, decreased airway hyperresponsiveness” and reduced inflammation.
CBD May Inhibit Mucus Production
Increased mucus production is a severe asthma symptom that can contribute to blocked airways and difficulty breathing. A major cause of this excess is caused by cytokines, proteins which promote cell signaling. In 2015, researchers examined asthma-induced rats and found an increase in all cytokines levels compared to the control group. After administering a CBD treatment, all cytokines decreased. The cytokine protein IL-13 is specifically considered to stimulate overproduction of mucus. Fortunately, the study found CBD reduced IL-13 in the lungs.
Although this study was performed on rats, these same cytokines are also found in human asthma. This gives promise that results will translate and CBD will help decrease mucus and inflammation in human asthma sufferers.
It’s important to note that CBD is not a cure for asthma. Nor should it be one’s sole form of treatment. Rather, CBD is showing to be a powerful and natural adjunct for relief from asthma symptoms. Current CBD research as a treatment for allergy symptoms is encouraging, however, further examination is needed. Additionally, Proper Hemp always recommends discussing with a physician prior to adding new dietary supplements to one’s allergy treatment routine.