According to a report from the CDC, 1 in 13 people in the United States have asthma—that’s a total of around 26 million Americans! If you or someone you love lives with asthma, you know how this condition can fundamentally impact your quality of life, preventing you from being physically active and requiring expensive, ongoing treatments. There’s no cure for asthma and managing its symptoms is a lifelong endeavor, so medical researchers are always on the lookout for new treatment options. In recent years, their focus has turned to CBD as a potential tool for improving the lives of people with asthma.
What is Asthma?
Before we dive into how CBD can be used for asthma, let’s start with the basics. Asthma is a condition that causes an individual’s airways to swell, narrowing the passages that carry air from the nose and mouth to the lungs. Allergens or other irritants can trigger asthma attacks, which include symptoms like difficulty breathing, tightness in the chest, wheezing, and coughing. Without proper intervention, asthma can be deadly.
This condition can affect anyone, though asthma is more common in children than adults. In fact, it’s the leading chronic disease in children. The number of people with asthma has been steadily growing since the 1980s, though researchers are unsure why that’s the case. No matter the cause, asthma requires costly treatments to be properly managed; medical expenses associated with asthma were estimated at $50.3 billion between 2008 and 2013.
How is Asthma Usually Treated?
When it comes to asthma treatment, most physicians take a multi-pronged approach with the ultimate goal of stopping asthma attacks before they start. The first step in asthma treatment is avoiding common triggers, such as household allergens, tobacco products, strenuous physical activity, NSAIDs, and even exposure to cold, dry air. Many asthma patients also take some type of daily, long-term medication that reduces irritation and inflammation to prevent asthma attacks from occurring. These medications may include corticosteroids, long-acting beta agonists, or theophylline. Most often, these medications are prescribed in the form of an inhaler.
Most asthma patients also use quick-relief or rescue medications to relieve more acute symptoms when an asthma attack does happen. These inhaled medications work to rapidly dilate and relax the airways to make breathing easier. Some quick-relief medications, like oral corticosteroids, can have serious side effects if used too often; for this reason, the major goal of asthma treatment is preventing attacks before they occur.
Is CBD Good for Asthma?
While many patients find relief from their asthma symptoms using the treatments outlined above, some struggle with finding a successful management plan and dealing with the side effects of traditional medications. In recent years, scientists have started to study CBD as an alternative or additional option for asthma patients. They’ve found that three promising traits may make CBD a powerful treatment for asthma.
First, CBD has been identified as a bronchodilator. This means that it dilates the respiratory air passages and allows for increased airflow to the lungs, relieving one of the major symptoms of an asthma attack. Since the 1970s, several studies of cannabinoids (the active compounds, including CBD, that are found in cannabis) have revealed bronchodilatory effects, indicating that CBD may help to alleviate core asthma symptoms.
CBD has also been studied extensively as an anti-inflammatory compound. For many patients, asthma is characterized by chronic inflammation in the respiratory system, affecting the air passages within the lungs even when they’re not experiencing an active asthma attack. The anti-inflammatory effects of CBD have been explored for a wide variety of conditions, ranging from arthritis to fibromyalgia. While most studies on its anti-inflammatory potential for asthma have been conducted on animal subjects, they indicate promising potential for treatment in humans as well.
Finally, some of the newest research on CBD and asthma suggests that CBD could function as an antispasmodic. During an asthma attack, smooth muscles within the lungs contract, causing the air passages to narrow and causing shortness of breath. CBD may work to reduce muscular spasms, helping to prevent breathing difficulties in asthma patients.
What’s the Right Dose of CBD Oil for Asthma?
If you find the information above compelling, you might be wondering exactly how to use CBD for asthma. The first step in establishing a CBD treatment plan is finding the right dosage. CBD dosages vary widely from person to person, and you’ll likely have to experiment before finding the dose that works for you. In general, it’s best to start with the lowest possible dose and increase it very slowly until you notice the desired effects. Many CBD manufacturers include a recommended dosage on their packaging; this is a good starting point for most adults. If you’re testing out CBD for a child with asthma, it’s especially important to begin with a conservative dose; for more information, here’s a helpful look at CBD in pediatric medicine, as well as a recent study on CBD dosing.
You’ll also need to choose the best method for taking CBD. Many people with asthma find it most beneficial to use a vaporizer, which quickly delivers CBD directly to the affected airways; this method can be especially effective for fast relief during asthma attacks. Some patients also find relief when using a CBD inhaler. If you’d prefer a daily preventative dose of CBD—or if you that find vaping irritates your airways—gummies, oil, or pressed pills may be a better choice.
What Else Should I Know?
If you’re interested in CBD as a treatment for asthma, you likely have a few questions. The most common concern in patients using CBD for the first time is whether it causes the high usually associated with cannabis products. The simple answer is no. As long as you choose CBD-only formulations (avoid any products that contain THC), you won’t experience psychoactive effects. That means CBD is safe to use as you go about your daily routine.
The side effects of CBD are uncommon and generally mild, but they may include drowsiness and upset stomach. It’s a good idea to consult your doctor before adding CBD into your asthma treatment plan; they can confirm that CBD won’t interact with your existing medications, and monitor any side effects that may be of concern.
Due to FDA Regulations, we recommend that you do your own research on CBD products. We also suggest that you read the reviews on our website, where our customers record their real-world results of using our products.