CBD may help with asthma, but the evidence we have is less than ideal, to say the least. But that doesn’t change the fact that asthma continues to affect millions of people in the U.S.

Conventional treatments are available, with different degrees of success. However, not everyone reacts well and might want an alternative option.

Although CBD and asthma are loosely connected, there’s a chance it may help with the difficult and potentially dangerous complications associated with the condition.

So does CBD oil work for asthma? If so, what are its benefits and limitations for using CBD for asthma? How do you even begin using CBD? We’ll discuss those questions and more.

Does CBD Oil Help with Asthma?

CBD oil may help with asthma, as it addresses some of the reactions – like inflammation – associated with many different conditions. However, research is pretty sparse on which (if any) types of asthma are controllable or treatable using CBD.

According to the American College of Asthma, Allergy & Immunology, there are six types of asthma:

  • Allergic
  • Non-allergic
  • Occupational
  • Exercise-induced bronchoconstriction
  • Asthma-COPD overlap
  • Adult-onset asthma

Again, we have little research to work with. From what we know so far, CBD seems to impact some kinds of asthma. Studies don’t cover all six asthma types. Allergic and non-allergic categories received the most attention, so we’ll focus on them.

Research on CBD and Allergic Asthma

As the name implies, allergic asthma symptoms start when triggered by allergens. This could range from pollen to cockroaches, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

CBD may support the treatment of allergic asthma – at least if you’re a mouse. A 2019 study in the European Journal of Pharmacology looked at allergic asthma in mice. They found that CBD helped reduce “airway hyperresponsiveness” through its indirect link with the CB1 and CB2 endocannabinoid receptors. Through these pathways, CBD helps alert the body to create an anti-inflammatory response.

There’s now evidence this experimental treatment works on humans. Naturally, we need more animal and human trials.

Research on CBD and Non-Allergic Asthma

Research into cannabinoids as bronchodilators in non-allergic asthma dates back several decades. A 1984 experiment published in Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics saw results with delta-9 and delta-8 THC but noticed no change with CBD.

However, the CBD dose was a massive 1200 mg – far above the necessary amount for a new consumer. Given cannabidiol’s biphasic behavior, such a serving might not have been necessary. “Biphasic” means CBD’s potency isn’t linear. Once you exceed your ideal dose, the benefits start to drop.

Below is an image showing a visual of what the Biphasic Effect is:CBD & Cannabinoids Biphasic Explained Graph on how Cannabinoids have diminishing effects at higher doses

The researchers likely didn’t know or fully acknowledge this issue. It begs the question as to whether gradually introducing CBD might have yielded different results.

Could CBD have worked otherwise? Only full clinical human trials can answer that question.

What Does Asthma Do to Your Body?

Although asthma is well-defined, there’s no “textbook case.” In other words, every patient experiences different severities and triggers. Treatment responses may also differ.

But regardless of what you deal with, asthma’s inflammatory response constricts the airways, making it difficult to breathe. Inevitably, the reaction leads to things like coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath.

Asthma symptoms, causes, and triggers infographic

Universally, it’s a condition that can be limiting or potentially deadly in the case of severe asthma. Oral and inhaled medications are available for treatment and prevention, but there’s no cure.

This may not be news to you as an asthma patient, but you might be surprised at how CBD oil may improve your quality of life.

Mechanism

We all know asthma is a potentially deadly respiratory condition, but how does it work? According to the American Lung Association, asthma puts the lining of your airways into a “hypersensitive state.” Airways become red and swollen, much like how our skin reacts to sunburns.

Some known asthma triggers include:

  • Weather changes
  • Stress
  • Illness
  • Allergens
  • Chemicals
  • Smoke

While a trigger doesn’t necessarily lead to a life-threatening emergency, it likely will cause a “flare-up” or “asthma attack.”

While the airways inflame and constrict, surrounding muscles also tighten. In some cases, this can fully obstruct breathing. At this point, you’ll need urgent medical care.

Could CBD help with coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath during an asthma attack? Theoretically, yes, it could. There’s a lot of supporting evidence for CBD’s potential anti-inflammatory properties. Since inflammation is the driving mechanism during a flare-up, there’s a chance CBD may work.

But – not to sound like a broken record – we need more research.

Complications

If treated, patients can live fairly normal lives. However, if you fail to address the problem, asthma could cause a condition called “airway remodeling.”

According to the American Lung Association, ignoring asthma eventually leads to long-term or permanent damage. Eventually, these scars worsen and reduce the effectiveness of asthma medications.

How is Asthma Treated?

Fortunately for patients, there are many treatment options. The American Lung Association tells us medications available for both long-term preventative solutions and short-term immediate relief.

One option is an anti-inflammatory medication. Again, this function brings us back to CBD and its reported potential to reduce swelling.

Preventing Asthma Attacks

Since there’s no cure for asthma, your only options are treatment and prevention. Remember that ignoring it is the worst thing you can do, so don’t wait.

Prevention is the best treatment. Prescription medicines can be very effective, but avoiding triggers is also an excellent way to avoid flare-ups.

What Asthma Patients Say About CBD for Asthma

Not only are there success stories, but many are quite old. This shows CBD and asthma were on a lot of people’s minds.

For instance, a Reddit post four years ago by “DoxyRuby” says:

“Within 2 days [of vaping CBD], I went down to using my rescue inhaler once or twice a day. For the last three weeks, I’ve used it a total of 4 times – once when I went out into the cold winter air, and three times when I went somewhere that was dusty and had dogs (which I’m allergic to).”

Similarly, an unnamed Reddit user was surprised by the effectiveness of CBD capsules, saying:

“I was experimenting with CBD capsules (also targeting other aches and pains) and it seemed to reduce the frequency and intensity of flare-ups. So was ok on a lower dose preventative.”

Are There any Side Effects of Taking CBD for Asthma?

Yes, CBD has some commonly-known side effects, but they’re mild and often temporary. A 2017 study in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research noticed the following CBD side effects:

  • Fatigue
  • Appetite changes
  • Weight loss or weight gain
  • Diarrhea

CBD also interacts with certain medications, which could trigger other side effects. It’s important to verify with a doctor first, as the interference could be dangerous.

We’ll get into that next.

Can CBD Interfere with Any Asthma Medications?

Yes, CBD could interfere with some asthma medications, but we don’t have a full list.

As for asthma, the District of Colombia Department of Health mentions just one medication so far. They advise that smoking cannabis reduces the levels of theophylline. The drug prevents asthma flare-ups by relaxing the airways.

We have no information about whether CBD oil or any ingested CBD interacts with theophylline. Along with asthma, the drug treats lung illnesses like chronic bronchitis and emphysema. The issue stems from CBD’s presence in the liver, which metabolizes CBD using the P450 liver enzyme family. Unfortunately, many medications do the same.

When forced to “share” the enzyme, CBD dilutes or increases the medication’s blood concentration. This problem could theoretically reduce or increase the effects of oral asthma medications.

Consequently, this can weaken the medicine’s benefits or trigger side effects. In a worst-case scenario, the contradiction could impact lung function.

How to Use CBD Oil for Asthma

It’s easy to use CBD oil for asthma. Dosing is a matter of slow titration, while you can easily measure your intake using a marked dropper.

Just hold the tincture under your tongue for 60-90 seconds (or as indicated on the label) and swallow.

But before you try cannabis oil for asthma, there’s some crucial information to keep in mind, including side effects, safety concerns, consumption methods, and dosing.

Do CBD Inhalers Help with Asthma?

Yes, it’s likely CBD inhalers help with asthma. Unsurprisingly, there don’t appear to be any human trials in something so specific. But the 2019 study mentioned earlier used inhalable CBD mist.

Again, the mist yielded promising results as a bronchodilator.

Is it Safe to Vape CBD with Asthma?

No, it’s not safe to vape CBD with asthma unless you fully understand your triggers. Some people immediately notice their airways relax from vaping CBD. However, if smoke exacerbates your asthma symptoms, inhaling CBD could cause a reaction.

It’s important to mention that cannabinoids vaporized in oil or e-liquid don’t generate smoke but rather a vapor aerosol. This could impact whether or not the CBD products trigger flare-ups.

Regardless, asthma patients shouldn’t vape or start using CBD until they speak with a doctor.

How much CBD to Take For Asthma

There’s no exact answer for a proper CBD dose for asthma. However, a 2017 study in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research found that participants could consume up to 1,500 mg of CBD.

Unfortunately, we’re just as blind as they are in that area. We know that suddenly giving new users 1,500 mg of CBD isn’t the best approach. Again, CBD is biphasic, so it’s possible starting so high could hamstring cannabidiol’s effects.

Many factors influence dose, including:

  • Sex
  • Weight
  • Age
  • Tolerance
  • Metabolism
  • Symptom severity

Make sure to read our blog post on CBD dosing to understand how CBD dosing works and how you can maximize your results.

Type of CBD

The CBD products you choose also influence dosing. There are three categories to choose from:

  • Full-spectrum: retains all cannabinoids and terpenes
  • Isolate: no cannabinoids or terpenes other than pure (up to 99%) CBD
  • Broad-spectrum: middle ground where only THC is filtered out

Isolate isn’t the best choice because it contains pure CBD without the other cannabinoids and terpenes to improve or focus the therapeutic effects. If you decide to use isolate, odds are you’ll need a lot more than its counterparts.

Full-spectrum and broad-spectrum are reportedly better than isolate. Full-spectrum CBD oil doesn’t deliberately filter out other compounds. Consequently, it could contain up to 0.3% THC.

Broad-spectrum manages to retain everything else while completely removing THC.

Consumption Method

Using CBD for asthma is difficult since we know so little about its benefits or side effects. Vaping is fast-acting, but there are concerns about how it may trigger an asthma attack.

Oral CBD products are preferable, such as CBD oil or CBD gummies. They’re easier to dose than vaping, but you risk potential drug interactions.

How to Find Your Optimal CBD Dosage

You find your optimal CBD dosage through slow, steady increases. There’s some flexibility, but it’s best to use the lowest dose possible for the first few days, then gradually increasing as needed.

This “start low and go slow” method is meant to avoid taking too much CBD. Cannabidiol is biphasic, meaning it reaches a peak where additional CBD will reduce the effectiveness. Starting gradually not only prevents you from overshooting the “sweet spot,” but it also helps your body gradually adjust to CBD.

For more information, check out this dosage guide from Colorado Botanicals, including a handy dosage calculator to help pinpoint your dose in seconds.

Final Thoughts on CBD and Asthma

CBD’s anti-inflammatory effects on asthma need way more research. Theoretically, there could be potential. Unfortunately, it’s unlikely CBD for asthma will be at the forefront of medical research.

Hopefully, in time, we’ll discover enough information to help improve the lives of asthma patients everywhere.

Sources

Types of Asthma – What Type do You Have? ACAAI Patient. (n.d.). https://acaai.org/asthma/types-of-asthma/.

Allergic Asthma: Causes, Symptoms, Tests & Treatment. Cleveland Clinic. (n.d.). https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/21461-allergic-asthma.

Vuolo, F., Abreu, S. C., Michels, M., Xisto, D. G., Blanco, N. G., Hallak, J. E. C., Zuardi, A. W., Crippa, J. A., Reis, C., Bahl, M., Pizzichinni, E., Maurici, R., Pizzichinni, M. M. M., Rocco, P. R. M., & Dal-Pizzol, F. (2019). Cannabidiol reduces airway inflammation and fibrosis in experimental allergic asthma. European Journal of Pharmacology, 843, 251–259. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ejphar.2018.11.029

Gong, H., Tashkin, D. P., Simmons, M. S., Calvarese, B., & Shapiro, B. J. (1984). Acute and subacute bronchial effects of oral cannabinoids. Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics, 35(1), 26–32. https://doi.org/10.1038/clpt.1984.4

How Asthma Affects Your Body. American Lung Association. (n.d.). https://www.lung.org/lung-health-diseases/lung-disease-lookup/asthma/learn-about-asthma/how-asthma-affects-your-body.

Iffland, K., & Grotenhermen, F. (2017). An update on safety and side effects of Cannabidiol: A review of clinical data and relevant animal studies. Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, 2(1), 139–154. https://doi.org/10.1089/can.2016.0034

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