For decades, the use of marijuana, also known as cannabis, for medical purposes has been considered a controversial topic. Although it has been used for thousands of years, it is still illegal in numerous U.S. states. And, the same questions remain to be answered:
- Is smoking marijuana harmful to the lungs
- Is marijuana dangerous for COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) patients?
- Is vaping safer than smoking?
- Is vaping marijuana beneficial for COPD patients?
If you want to find out the answers to these questions, just continue reading this article to learn everything needed about vaping, marijuana, and COPD.
Marijuana Health Benefits
In general, doctors recommend the use of medical marijuana to provide calming effects for improving some mental and physical conditions like Crohn’s disease for example. Current studies also show that cannabidiol (CBD), the chemical compound found in marijuana, is beneficial for treating many medical conditions including the following:
- Mental illness
- Chronic pain
- Immune system diseases
- Alzheimer’s disease
Another active marijuana compound called tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is used in two synthetic drugs approved by the FDE (Food and Drug Administration). Furthermore, dronabinol (Marinol) and nabilone (Cesamet) are approved for relieving chemotherapy-related nausea and achieving weight gain in AIDS patients. Also, nerve pain and muscle control issues linked with multiple sclerosis (MS) are treated with nabiximols (Sativex) which contains THC and CBD.
Smoking Marijuana Impact and COPD
Even though the negative effects of smoking marijuana aren’t the same as those of smoking cigarettes, doctors still warn against smoking it because the drug can make existing respiratory problems worse and damage the lungs. Namely, marijuana smoke contains airway irritants, tumor promoters, and carcinogen substances.
And, when it comes to marijuana and COPD, it’s key to understand that smoking marijuana increases the risk of developing this lung condition and worsens the symptoms of those who already have COPD. Precisely speaking, smoking marijuana can lead to the rupture of the walls of alveoli (small lung air sacs) into larger and ineffective ones called bullae causing shortness of breath. In serious cases, bullae can get infected or rupture and cause the lungs to collapse.
Vaping Marijuana Impact and COPD
Vaping is an alternative way of taking marijuana. The process involves inhaling a liquid vapor through an e-cigarette or vaporizer. It’s typically considered to be safer than smoking, but it also comes with certain risks as vaporizers can release certain chemicals like ammonia which negatively affects the central nervous system. Other risks include worsening current asthma or causing bronchial spasms.
Unfortunately, there isn’t enough research to fully understand and learn the extent of the risk of vaping marijuana and its connection with COPD. Yet, if you do choose this method of taking marijuana, doctors advise using the safest method possible as not all vaporizing is the same. Indeed, vaporizing the entire cannabis flower is seen as a safer alternative compared to the pen-shaped vaporizers that use cannabis oil which is usually thinned with propylene glycol or polyethylene glycol which aren’t safe.
The bottom line, although the health benefits of marijuana look promising, further research is still needed to see whether or not it is a good treatment option. Also, as it comes with its risks, both smoking and vaping, you should consult your doctor before starting to use marijuana for medical purposes.