Cannabis and Arthritis

“Arthritis” is an umbrella term used to describe 200 rheumatic diseases affecting the joints and their surrounding tissues. It causes inflammation and stiffness that develops abruptly or gradually around one or more joints.
Causes and Forms of Arthritis
Although more common in seniors, arthritis can severely impair a person of any age, leaving him or her unable to work or perform daily duties. In the United States, arthritis is the most common cause of disability, and high levels of stress and depression are often associated.
Genetics may cause arthritis, along with obesity, joint damage, infections, and occupations requiring repetitive bending or squatting. Dysfunction of the immune system and an abnormal metabolism can also lead to various forms of arthritis, though many rheumatoid diseases are caused by a combination of factors.

Forms of arthritis are broken into seven main categories:

Inflammatory arthritis — joints become inflamed for no apparent reason.
Degenerative or mechanical arthritis — the body tries remodeling the bone to restore stability. Osteoarthritis is an example.
Soft tissue musculoskeletal pain — pain felt in tissues rather than joints or bones, affecting overused body parts. For example, “tennis elbow.”
Back pain — unspecified pain associated with muscles, discs, nerves, ligaments, bones, or joints in the back such as osteoporosis.
Connective tissue disease — pain in tendons, ligaments, and cartilage characterized by inflammation of the skin, muscles, lungs, and kidneys.
Infectious arthritis — inflammation in a joint caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi (examples of causes include food poisoning, STDs, and Hepatitis C). Antibiotics can usually treat it.
Metabolic arthritis — too much uric acid may form sharp crystals in a joint that cause sudden, excruciating pain. Gout is an example.
Arthritis Treatment Methods
Although they don’t heal joint inflammation, analgesics like Tylenol, Percocet, and Vicodin may be prescribed to reduce pain along with creams containing menthol or capsaicin. Over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like Advil, Motrin, or Aleve may be taken to reduce pain and inflammation.

Rheumatoid arthritis is treated with disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) to prevent the immune system from attacking inflamed joints. Corticosteroids like prednisone and cortisone may also be prescribed to reduce inflammation and suppress the immune system.

Exercise can ease pain and stress levels for people with arthritis, but nearly a quarter of adults diagnosed with arthritis report being physically inactive. Dietary changes may manage arthritis, as meats and foods high in sugar can exacerbate inflammation.

How Cannabis Can Help Arthritis
While cannabis is classified as a Schedule I drug by the federal government, meaning it’s considered highly addictive with no medical value and research on it is severely restricted — a scientific consensus has nevertheless emerged on its therapeutic value based on a growing body of successful preclinical and clinical trials. To the delight of many, those studies show that cannabis has anti-inflammatory effects that can help arthritis patients live happier, healthier lives.

Consequently, cannabis is gaining popularity as a treatment for arthritis. Cannabis can ease pain and reduce swelling without the potentially life-threatening side effects caused by frequent NSAID or opiate use.

In the summer of 2015, the Canadian Arthritis Society funded a three-year research grant to a Dalhousie University researcher to determine if marijuana can relieve pain or repair arthritic joints. Pain-detecting nerves are filled with cannabinoid receptors, and according to researcher Jason McDougall, cannabinoids control the firing of pain signals from the joint to the brain by sticking themselves to nerve receptors. Another controlled study, conducted by the Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Disease in the UK, showed that cannabinoids provided statistically significant improvements in pain on movement, pain at rest, and quality of sleep.

At a time when opiate abuse has reached epidemic proportions, cannabis treatment can be a far less harmful and less addictive way to treat those suffering from chronic pain associated with arthritis. According to Mike Hart, MD, head physician of the Ontario Chapter at Marijuana for Trauma (MFT)

Not only is cannabis an effective alternative treatment to NSAIDs or opiates, it can help people get off dangerous drugs such as opioids. According to Dr. Hart, “I have literally helped hundreds of patients reduce or eliminate their dependence on opioids.”

In addition to increasing numbers of professionals within the medical industry recognizing the therapeutic value of cannabis, the public has also become more receptive to medical marijuana treatment. In January 2014, CBS News conducted a national poll finding that 86 percent of Americans believe doctors should be permitted to prescribe cannabis to patients who suffer from serious illnesses such as arthritis. As far back as 2004, the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), which boasts 35 million members, published a national poll revealing that 72 percent of seniors support allowing the use of doctor-recommended cannabis to treat patients.

Source : Leafly

Hemp Seed Could Have Anti-Alzheimer’s Benefits, New Study Reveals

One of the most potent medicinal foods on the planet is the seed of the cannabis sativa plant, which has a documented history of use in in the Chinese pharmacopeia that goes back to 2727 B.C., and archeological evidence indicating it was likely used as far back as 12,000 B.C.1

A recent study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry summarized its nutritional properties as follows:

Hemp seed has high levels of fatty acids, protein, insoluble fiber, and a rich set of minerals and vitamins. It is considered to be perfectly balanced with regard to the ratio  of two essential polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) for human nutrition, linoleic  and α-linolenic acids (ALA) .”

The study also summarized the growing body of research in existence that demonstrates their medicinal properties:

In addition to its nutritional value, hemp seed demonstrated positive health benefits, including alleviating constipation, lowering cholesterol, cardiovascular health benefits, immunomodulatory effects, and dermatological disease amelioration effects.Hemp seed extracts showed also strong antioxidant and antiaging effects and the potential to improve the impaired learning and memory induced by chemical drugs in mice.”

the new study explored the hitherto unexamined presence of secondary metabolites of hemp seed in order to identify bioactive compounds that could help explain both their observed and purported health benefits.

The investigation led to the isolation of 4 new phytochemicals known as lignanamides, namely, cannabisin, cannabisin , and -demethyl-heliotropamide , along with 6 other liganamides which were already known about within the scientific community.

These liganamides were tested in cell studies (in vitro) and exhibited two properties of potential therapeutic relevance:

Antioxidant properties: Lignanamides,
Acetylcholinesterase inhibiting properties:
The beneficial role of antioxidants will already be clear to most readers. Antioxidants, of course, have a broad range of therapeutic properties, from reducing accelerated aging to reducing the risk of DNA damage linked to cancer. But what do acetylcholinesterase inhibitors do? One of the most well known functions of acetylcholinesterase inhibitors are to reduce the activity of enzyme that degrade the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, adequate quantities of which are necessary for the optimal functioning of our memory. There are, in fact, an entire class of Alzheimer’s drugs whose purported mechanism of action is to inhibit the acetylcholinesterase enzyme. These, however, have a broad range of side effects, making natural modulators of this enzyme all the more desirable. To this point the researchers concluded their study:

“The bioassay results of the current study suggest that hemp seed, with lignanamides as nutrients, may be exploited for their bioactive potential, because compounds with both antioxidant and acetylcholinesterase inhibitory activities are good choices for multitarget anti-Alzheimer’s disease candidates.”

Another function of acetylcholinesterase inhibitors relevant to Alzheimer’s disease is their hypothesized ability to both mitigate and potentially reverse the distinctive pathological protein folding patterns or “plaque” known as amyloid beta. This so-called non-classical, non-cholinergic function has also been witnessed for another component of cannabis, the pysychoative cannabinoid THC, which was found several years ago to have significant anti-Alzheimer’s properties. One of the mechanisms identified for THC’s therapeutic role was its ability to prevent acetylocholinesterase-induced beta amyloid plaque aggregation. You can learn more by reading the article below:

Marijuana Compound Found Superior To Drugs For Alzheimer’s​
To learn more about the health benefits of hemp seed, go here: Hemp Seed Benefits. To evaluate the research on the varied health benefits of the cannabis plant as a whole, go here: Cannabis Health Benefits. Finally, to learn more about natural approaches to Alzheimer’s disease, go here: Natural Alzheimer’s Disease Research

Source : Green Med

4 Best Reasons to Legalize Hemp

Cannabis has “blazed” a trail into the national spotlight thanks to the legalization battle and provocative new studies on its health benefits. Mounds of research and media events like Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s CNN Special Report WEED have shed light on cannabis’s potential to treat cancer, seizures, multiple sclerosis (MS), glaucoma, pain and other ailments. However, the entire conversation still revolves around marijuana, the high-THC strain of cannabis that makes you hungry and “high.” Little attention has been paid to hemp, the low-THC, high-cannabidiol (CBD) strain that not only has substantial health benefits, but also has enormous potential to benefit our environment.
Hemp has been used for centuries to make rope, textiles, foods, personal care products, construction materials, paper and, more recently, automotive parts.
Yes, it turns out that some of the best uses of cannabis require no baking supplies or bongs.  Hemp only became a controversial substance in the U.S. in the 1920s and 30s, and its production was first restricted with the passage of the 1937 “Marihuana Tax Act,” which defined hemp as a narcotic drug and required farmers to obtain federal permits to grow it.

Even still, Popular Mechanics dubbed hemp “the new billion dollar crop” in 1938, claiming that it “can be used to produce more than 25,000 products, ranging from dynamite to cellophane.” And when World War II demanded the full industrial might of the U.S., hemp restrictions were temporarily lifted and production reached its peak in 1943 when American farmers grew 150 million pounds of hemp. It was manufactured into shoes, ropes, fire hoses and even parachute webbing for soldiers fighting the war. After 1943, production plummeted and the anti-narcotic regime kicked back into effect.

The good news is that hemp production continued throughout much of the rest the world, including Europe and East Asia. If we substitute hemp for many of the industrial materials we use and take for granted today, the environmental benefits are impressive. Here, I’ll focus on four environmental benefits that are well established in academic and government research.

1. Forest Cover and Biodiversity

Although more than 95 percent of paper is made from wood pulp, hemp can play the same role. It can be recycled twice as many times as wood pulp, it can produce three to four times as much fiber per hectare as typical forests and even twice as much as a pine plantation. These abilities discussed by Dr. Ernest Small, Principal Research Scientist at the Eastern Cereal and Oilseed Research Centre in Ottawa, Canada, suggests that more reliance on industrial hemp could reduce dependence on old growth forests, which host the world’s greatest concentrations of biodiversity and absorb carbon dioxide. Forests can’t keep up with the pace of deforestation, but hemp could keep up with our appetite for paper products.

2. No Pesticides and Herbicides Required

The USDA reports that in 2007, roughly 877 million pounds of pesticides were applied to U.S. cropland at a cost of roughly $7.9 billion. Yet recently, the World Health Organization’s cancer research wing deemed the world’s most popular weed killer, glyphosate, a “probable carcinogen” linked to cancer. Yes, what a surprise that the active ingredient in Monsanto’ Roundup, and other weed killers worth over $6 billion in annual sales actually aren’t good for us. While genetically modified crops (GMOs) typically require pesticides, herbicide and synthetic fertilizers to survive, hemp does not. It can grow organically almost anywhere. By substituting hemp for industrial GMOs (e.g. cotton, corn, soybean, etc.), we can we reduce damage to our health and the ecosystems we depend on.

3. Lower Carbon Emissions

According to the UK Department of Business’s 2010 report on low carbon construction, hemp can play a role in slashing carbon emissions. While producing one metric ton of steel emits 1.46 tons of carbon dioxide, one square meter of timber-framed, hemp-lime wall stores 35.5kg of CO2 and will not be released unless the material is composted or burned. Hemp can also be used to make “hempcrete,” a concrete alternative, as well as plastic-like products that replace fiber glass and other environmentally unfriendly materials.

Using hemp as a biofuel could improve carbon efficiency, too. In testing, Richard Parnas, a professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at the University of Connecticut, found that hemp converts to biodiesel at a 97 percent efficiency rate and can burn at lower temperatures than any other biodiesel on the market. Hemp is a far better alternative to growing GMO cash crops that make less efficient biofuels.

4. Soil Protection

Researchers at Nova Institute, an ecology R&D group based in Germany, found that hemp has a “favorable influence on the soil structure” because it curtails the presence of nematodes and fungi, and it has a high shading capacity that suppresses weed growth. In one study cited by the researchers, a hemp rotation was found to increase wheat yields by 10 to 20 percent. Hemp can also grow in the most inhospitable and otherwise useless soils, such as those polluted by heavy metals. Grown alone, used in rotation or planted on abandoned farmland, hemp is an environmental win.

For Future Generations

The internet is filled with claims about hemp that are suspicious and often impossible to substantiate. These four benefits reflect insights from academia, government and professional research firms. More than a few peer-reviewed studies support these claims.

With policy reform, hemp has the potential to preserve biodiversity, reduce pollution, cut emissions and protect cropland throughout the world. That’s The good news is that hemp production continued throughout much of the rest the world, including Europe and East Asia. for a crop that has been unfairly branded as a dangerous gateway drug. With hemp plants able to mature for fiber production within 60-90 days and 90-120 days for grain, it’s possible to build a ‘hemp economy’ very quickly. By relying on renewable, clean hemp, we can grow our economies more mindfully and leave our planet in better shape for future generations.

Source : Hemp Health

Chocolate Cannabutter Sauce

Ingredients:

1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons cannabutter
8 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped

Method:

In a double boiler or heat-proof bowl set over set over just-simmering water, heat the cream and cannabutter, stirring occasionally to be sure the butter has melted.
When the butter has completely melted, add the chocolate. Stir until the chocolate has completely melted and the mixture is smooth.

Enjoy

Hemp Strawberry Mint Smoothie

Ingredients:

2 cups ripe strawberries, hulled
2/3 cups fresh mint leaves
2 tbs hemp seeds hulled
1 cup coconut water (use or milk if you prefer)
a few mint leaves for garnish

Method:
Place all the ingredients in the jar of your blender. Whiz until smooth.
Pour smoothie into glasses and garnish with fresh mint leaves.

Tip: I used very ripe strawberries so my smoothie was sweet enough. If you need to add any sweetener at all, use a few drops of liquid stevia or a teaspoon of raw honey.
Enjoy

5 Reasons To Juice Your Cannabis

Besides fruits and vegetables, turns out cannabis can be added to your juicer as well.

For those unfamiliar with the juicing phenomenon, the process of making cannabis juice is surprisingly simple. All you really need is a blender/juicer and some raw material.

But what are the advantages of juicing raw cannabis? Here’s a list of our top 5.
1. Avoid the High

While the downsides of getting high are often debated, the fact is that some people prefer their cannabis without psychoactive effects. This is where juicing comes in handy.

Since heat is required to convert the THCA in raw cannabis into THC, its psychoactive form, juicing provides a way of obtaining many of the benefits of cannabis without getting high.

2. Ingest Higher Doses

Along the same line, not getting high makes it easier to take higher doses of cannabis and therefore more of its medical components, also known as cannabinoids.

One doctor who recommends juicing is Dr. William Courtney, founder of the Cannabis International Foundation. According to Dr. Courtney, THC can be taken in doses of hundreds of milligrams when in its acid form. However, once heated, the tolerable dose drops to 10 mg a day.

Cannabis juice also contains CBDA, the acid form of CBD.

3. Versatility

Cannabis juice can be mixed with a variety of other healthy ingredients to create delicious drinks perfect for any time of the day.

It’s also easier to drink cannabis juice while at work, in the car and in other places where smoking or vaporizing might be inconvenient.

4. Avoid Smoking
Juicing, like vaporizing, allows you to avoid the negative effects of smoking.

Although cannabis smoke has not been linked to lung cancer, it can irritate the airways and lead to minor respiratory symptoms such as chronic bronchitis. Thus, juicing may even help you breathe a bit easier.

5. Prevent Disease

While cannabis is often seen as a treatment for chronic diseases, incorporating cannabis into your diet can be a great way to maintain health and prevent disease.

Cannabinoids have been shown to possess antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective properties, making them a powerful dietary supplement.

As Hippocrates, one of the most famous physicians in history, once said: “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”

Source : Leaf Science

Hemp Seed Could Have Anti-Alzheimer’s Benefits, New Study Reveals

One of the most potent medicinal foods on the planet is the seed of the cannabis sativa plant, which has a documented history of use in in the Chinese pharmacopeia that goes back to 2727 B.C., and archeological evidence indicating it was likely used as far back as 12,000 B.C.1

A recent study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry summarized its nutritional properties as follows:

Hemp seed has high levels of fatty acids, protein, insoluble fiber, and a rich set of minerals and vitamins. It is considered to be perfectly balanced with regard to the ratio (3:1) of two essential polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) for human nutrition, linoleic (ω-6) and α-linolenic acids (ALA) (ω-3).”

The study also summarized the growing body of research in existence that demonstrates their medicinal properties:

In addition to its nutritional value, hemp seed demonstrated positive health benefits, including alleviating constipation, lowering cholesterol, cardiovascular health benefits, immunomodulatory effects, and dermatological disease amelioration effects.Hemp seed extracts showed also strong antioxidant and antiaging effects and the potential to improve the impaired learning and memory induced by chemical drugs in mice.”

the new study explored the hitherto unexamined presence of secondary metabolites of hemp seed in order to identify bioactive compounds that could help explain both their observed and purported health benefits.

The investigation led to the isolation of 4 new phytochemicals known as lignanamides, namely, cannabisin M (2), cannabisin N (5), cannabisin O (8), and 3,3′-demethyl-heliotropamide (10), along with 6 other liganamides which were already known about within the scientific community.

These liganamides were tested in cell studies (in vitro) and exhibited two properties of potential therapeutic relevance:

Antioxidant properties: Lignanamides, 2, 7, and 9-14
Acetylcholinesterase inhibiting properties: 7, 10, and 13.
The beneficial role of antioxidants will already be clear to most readers. Antioxidants, of course, have a broad range of therapeutic properties, from reducing accelerated aging to reducing the risk of DNA damage linked to cancer. But what do acetylcholinesterase inhibitors do? One of the most well known functions of acetylcholinesterase inhibitors are to reduce the activity of enzyme that degrade the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, adequate quantities of which are necessary for the optimal functioning of our memory. There are, in fact, an entire class of Alzheimer’s drugs whose purported mechanism of action is to inhibit the acetylcholinesterase enzyme. These, however, have a broad range of side effects, making natural modulators of this enzyme all the more desirable. To this point the researchers concluded their study:

“The bioassay results of the current study suggest that hemp seed, with lignanamides as nutrients, may be exploited for their bioactive potential, because compounds with both antioxidant and acetylcholinesterase inhibitory activities are good choices for multitarget anti-Alzheimer’s disease candidates.”

Another function of acetylcholinesterase inhibitors relevant to Alzheimer’s disease is their hypothesized ability to both mitigate and potentially reverse the distinctive pathological protein folding patterns or “plaque” known as amyloid beta. This so-called non-classical, non-cholinergic function has also been witnessed for another component of cannabis, the pysychoative cannabinoid THC, which was found several years ago to have significant anti-Alzheimer’s properties. One of the mechanisms identified for THC’s therapeutic role was its ability to prevent acetylocholinesterase-induced beta amyloid plaque aggregation. You can learn more by reading the article below:

Marijuana Compound Found Superior To Drugs For Alzheimer’s​
To learn more about the health benefits of hemp seed, go here: Hemp Seed Benefits. To evaluate the research on the varied health benefits of the cannabis plant as a whole, go here: Cannabis Health Benefits. Finally, to learn more about natural approaches to Alzheimer’s disease, go here: Natural Alzheimer’s Disease Research.

Source : Green Med

Is Hemp the Next Graphene?

Hemp is an extremely flexible material with a myriad of uses and applications. In the fashion industry, businesses use the plant to create shirts, organic wallets and bags. While in commercial sectors, the material is turned into natural cordage and extracted for its flavorful oil.

In the past few years, scientists from Clarkson Universityhave been working on a new way to use hemp. Originally discovered by the University of Alberta’s National Institute for Nanotechnology (NINT), researchers were able to turn hemp fibers into supercapacitors- a need normally met by graphene. The hemp used to create the unconventional energy storage cells is legal and only contains minimal levels of THC, or the psychoactive compound normally associated with medicinal cannabis.

“Health Canada defines hemp as products of Cannabis Sativa which contain less than 0.3 percent THC, whereas US law defines hemp as all parts of any Cannabis Sativa plant containing no psychoactive properties, except for defined exceptions,” highlighted Matthew Price from Medical Jane.

Designed for Mass Commercial Markets

Graphene, an atomically strong material that is 100 times stronger than steel, and conducts electricity at higher efficiency rates than copper, can be applied to transform everyday electronics and machines. The problem is, the carbon monolayer is expensive to produce, which severely limits its adoption in industrial sectors (it cost roughly $2,000 per gram). By comparison, using converted hemp fibers as an alternative for graphene costs less than $500 per ton to manufacture.

The process of turning hemp into a superior nanomaterialinvolves “cooking” the leftover bark until it turns into carbon nanosheets, a technical process called hydrothermal synthesis. “The resultant graphene-like nanosheets possess fundamentally different properties, such as pore size distribution, physical interconnectedness, and electrical conductivity—as compared to conventional biomass-derived activated carbons,” explained Dr. David Mitlin, a professor at Clarkson University.

Industrial Applications

It’s important to consider that hemp cannot function exactly like graphene, and is only a viable alternative for energy storage applications. Mainstream supercapacitors are currently being used to regulate power supply from batteries, due to their ability to store large amounts of energy for short periods. An example of its presence in live environments is wind turbines. In such settings, supercapacitors are applied to manage sporadic, inconsistent power generated by wind. It can also be used to reduce energy waste in electric and hybrid cars during regenerative braking.

Other applications for the energy cells include load leveling, handheld gadgets and medical devices. Many institutions recognize the benefits of scaling the production of hemp for such purposes. Recently, a bill designed to bolster the efforts of Hawaii’s Department of Agriculture in creating pilot research programs for industrial hemp was set in motion. Other states with similar initiatives include Colorado, Virginia, Kentucky and Minnesota. In other parts of the world, such as China and Canada, the crop is widely cultivated for commercial fabrics.

Source : Mass Roots

Hemp: Our Misunderstood Friend

Industrial hemp, the incredible clean cousin of the marijuana plant, offers a host of innovative solutions for our troubled world—from reducing global deforestation and malnutrition, to combating climate change, environmental damage and reliance on fossil fuels. Global Mana, in collaboration with ihemphi (industrial hemp Hawaii) and the research teams at the University of Hawai’i, drives awareness of how industrial hemp can help restore natural balance to our world. Hemp not only replenishes topsoil, it also opens new commercial doors to improve the economy of the people, providing sustainable sources of food, shelter, household products, clothing, fuel and building materials. From seed to core to outer fibers, hemp provides real solutions with potential to replace 25,000 chemical, petroleum and synthetic-based products in our daily lives. The first draft of the Declaration of Independence was written on hemp paper; Thomas Jefferson was a hemp farmer after all (so was George Washington). The 1914 US ten-dollar bill was printed on hemp paper and showed a hemp field. In 1941, Henry Ford built a Model-T car of out 70% cellulose hemp fiber (that was 10 times stronger than steel on impact) and ran on hemp biofuel. Our forefathers had the right idea.

Hemp seed and oil are some of the greatest immune system builders. They contain optimal levels of Omega 3 and 6, plus a plethora of other nutrients that inhibit cancer and tumor growth, increase metabolism and lower blood pressure and cholesterol. Hemp’s inner wood-like core, its heart, forms part of the next evolution in green building. The “shiv” or “huv,” as it’s known, makes strong, non-toxic construction materials, like hempcrete, that regulates humidity, makes buildings more energy efficient and reduces waste and emissions. This fast-growing, naturally mold, mildew and termite-resistant plant is also fire-retardant. The long outer fibers make natural insulation, clothing, plastics, bio-composites and more. We can now make eco-friendly fiberglass for boats, cars and house sidings out of hemp. We can also use hemp to filter toxins from our water systems. Recent scientific studies show that in some cases hemp makes amazing supercapacitators that outperform even graphene, the industry gold standard for energy storage. What are we waiting for?
Your Contribution helps support dedicated research programs for commercial and industrial hemp, as well as develop markets for this miraculous plant. Together, we will identify hemp’s cross-industry and invest in promoting hemp’s potential to replace nonrenewable resources.

Source : Global Mana

Cannabis and Asthma: Benefits vs Risks

Cannabis effects on the respiratory system are some of the most baffling findings of modern-day research. Contrary to what most might think, studies have conclusively shown that long-term cannabis use has little to no impact on the lungs.

On the other hand, those who suffer from asthma might take extra caution when it comes to smoking anything, since asthma is a potentially life-threatening disorder that can severely disrupt one’s breathing. Asthma affects approximately 250 million people worldwide and was responsible for 250,000 deaths in 2011.

But while it may be natural for asthmatics to avoid marijuana, research seems to support the opposite – that is, cannabis could be an effective treatment for the disorder.

History of Medical Marijuana
History tells us that humans have been using cannabis as a medicine for thousands of years. The earliest records come from India and China, where marijuana was recommended for the treatment of a variety of common ailments.

Interestingly, ancient medical practice in India also described the use of cannabis preparations as a treatment for asthma. Likewise, Western doctors recommended the use of cannabis for asthmatic patients up until the late 1800s.

However, it was not until the latter half of the 20th Century that scientists decided to investigate the potential of this ancient medicine as an alternative to modern-day therapies.

Human Studies – The Evidence
Numerous studies conducted in the 1970s found that THC could act as an effective bronchodilator – countering airway constriction, the primary symptom of asthma – in both healthy and asthmatic individuals.

In fact, a study published in 1977 found that THC was a stronger bronchodilator than isoproterenol, which was a common treatment for asthma at the time.

Early studies also found smoked marijuana to be effective at reversing the bronchoconstriction induced by allergic reactions or exercise in patients with asthma. Interestingly, THC seemed to elicit similar effects on the airway regardless of the route of administration.

Research from the 70s also investigated the effectiveness of using a metered-dose inhaler to deliver THC – the same method used to deliver traditional asthma medication.

A study published in 1976 showed that THC delivered via an inhaler was just as effective as Salbutamol – a widely prescribed treatment for asthma – at improving lung function in the 10 asthmatic patients that were studied. Furthermore, a study published in 1978 using the same delivery method found that THC’s bronchodilator action lasted between 3 to 6 hours – depending on the dosage – in the 5 patients that were studied.
And despite the remarkable effects observed in both studies, THC was administered at such low doses (50-200 µg) that none of the patients reported any side-effects.

Animal Studies – The Evidence
Oddly enough, research on humans ended abruptly in the 70s and has still yet to pick up again, which leaves findings from animal studies as the only source of recent evidence. Even still, animal research only serves to provide more support for the use of cannabis as a treatment for asthma.

A study published in 2008 found that administration of the synthetic cannabinoid CP55 – a compound that activates both CB1 and CB2 receptors – was able to counteract an allergic asthma-like response in guinea pigs. Cannabinoid treatment not only reduced coughing and shortness of breath, but also reduced levels of inflammatory molecules, confirming the well-known anti-inflammatory properties of medical marijuana.

Similarly, a study published in 2003 found that administration of THC or cannabinol (CBN) were both able to reduce the presence of inflammatory molecules as well as mucus overproduction in rat models of asthma.

How Does It Work?
Not only does evidence from animal research support the role of medical marijuana in treating asthma, but it also provides us with an explanation for how it works.

Interestingly, studies have identified CB1 receptors on nerve cells of the airway, suggesting a role of cannabinoid receptors in the contraction of airway muscles. What’s more, studies suggest that naturally occurring cannabinoids which mimic the effects of THC – such as anandamide – may also be able to control the contraction of airway muscles by activating CB1 receptors.

In fact, a study published in 2000 found that anandamide could relax the airway muscles and inhibit coughing induced by chemical irritants in rats.

Indeed, THC seems to provide the same therapeutic benefits as natural cannabinoids, but with a stronger and longer-lasting effect. Likewise, numerous studies have concluded that marijuana-based therapy holds much promise in the treatment of asthma, despite the fact that human studies have yet to be conducted since the 70s.

Risks
Although research seems to provide strong support for the use of medical marijuana in treating asthma, it is important to note that there are still a number of risks.

For instance, studies involving inhaler-delivered THC show that higher doses can cause bronchoconstriction in patients with asthma. Indeed, a study published in 1977 found that out of the 5 asthmatics that were studied, only 3 experienced bronchodilation, whereas 2 experienced bronchoconstriction after receiving 5-20 mg of THC, showing that dosages delivered via inhaler must be kept low in order for THC to be used as a treatment. On the other hand, studies involving smoked marijuana have yet to demonstrate similar risks.

Additionally, while studies have conclusively demonstrated that marijuana use does not increase the risk of lung cancer or impair lung function, research shows that cannabis users are still at risk of developing bronchitis.

Bronchitis is characterized by inflammation of the mucous membranes of the airway, which can lead to persistent coughing and increased mucous (phlegm) production. Bronchitis poses a particular risk to patient with asthma, since the presence of both disorders only makes symptoms worse.

However, the risk of bronchitis can be avoided by using alternative methods to ingest marijuana, such as vaporizers or edible preparations. And as research shows, THC does not need to be smoked in order to take advantage of its therapeutic benefits.