Cannabidiol (CBD) has increased in popularity to help treat a variety of health conditions. You may be wondering if this type of cannabinoid can help manage your asthma symptoms.
Like other cannabinoids, CBD is derived from the cannabis plant. But unlike cannabis (often referred to as marijuana), CBD doesn’t have any hallucinogenic effects because of its extremely low tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content (typically less than 0.3 percent).
Both marijuana and CBD may be used, with the supervision of a doctor, to treat pain. But what has many people interested in CBD oil is the potential to treat inflammation.
As a chronic lung disease, asthma is caused by underlying inflammation of the airways, with flare-ups leading to wheezing, coughing, and other breathing issues.
Despite its potential role in airway inflammation, can CBD oil really treat asthma? Learn more about what the research says and when you might consider exploring this treatment method with your doctor.
CBD is gaining increasing attention because of its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. Some research also indicates that it may provide more neuroprotective benefits than vitamins C and E.
CBD oil may decrease hyperresponsiveness in your airways, meaning that your lungs may become less sensitive to your asthma triggers. In turn, this means fewer flare-ups and symptoms such as coughing.
A 2019 study found that CBD decreased airway inflammation and hyperresponsiveness in mice that were induced with allergic asthma. However, more research is needed in humans to determine whether CBD oil is an effective treatment for allergy-induced asthma.
CBD oil is taken orally by putting the recommended number of drops in your mouth and swallowing them.
Although researchers have used mist versions of CBD when conducting animal studies, smoking or vaping CBD oil isn’t advised in humans because of possible irritation to the airways.
Clinical studies on CBD oil and asthma in humans are lacking, so proper dosages for asthma are unknown.
So far, research has shown that a maximum of 1,500 milligrams (mg) of CBD per day may be safe for human consumption.
If your doctor recommends adding CBD oil to your asthma treatment plan, they can suggest an appropriate dosage.
The right dosage for you depends on a variety of factors, including the type of product and your body weight. Your doctor may adjust your dosage depending on how you respond to the treatment.
Despite the potential benefits of CBD oil for asthma, side effects from using CBD for other purposes have been reported in animal and in vitro studies. Side effects include:
- skin rashes
- decreased appetite
- sleepiness or insomnia
- abnormal liver function
Long-term studies in humans are needed to determine whether CBD is safe for asthma and whether there are any side effects. To date, CBD studies in humans have been small and only looked at short-term use.
It’s unknown whether CBD oil interacts with other asthma medications. Don’t stop taking your current asthma treatments or modify any doses without talking to your doctor first.
CBD is known to interact with other medications because of the way it affects certain enzymes that your body uses to metabolize these medications. Talk with your doctor before using CBD oil if you take any of the following medications:
- diclofenac (Cambia, Flector), a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) used in the treatment of arthritis, migraine, and other types of chronic pain
- omeprazole (Prilosec OTC), a proton-pump inhibitor that treats heartburn and acid reflux
- rifampicin (Rifampin), an antibiotic primarily used for tuberculosis
- risperidone (Risperdal), an antipsychotic used to treat bipolar disorder and schizophrenia
- theophylline, an oral medication used to treat the symptoms of asthma or other lung conditions, such as chronic bronchitis or emphysema
- warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven), a blood thinner that treats and prevents blood clots
Given the increased number of CBD products on the market, choosing the right CBD oil for you can be a daunting task. As a general rule of thumb, it’s important to select a product that’s made in the United States and has been third-party tested.
Hemp-based oils may be best, as they contain trace amounts of THC, compared with marijuana.
It’s also important to find a brand of CBD oil that’s pure and organic. Pesticides and microorganisms have been found in some CBD products.
To date, only one prescription form of CBD has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Epidiolex, which is derived from CBD, is used to treat seizures caused by Dravet syndrome, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, and tuberous sclerosis complex.
Like asthma, more research is needed to determine whether CBD is an effective treatment for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Some animal studies have shown CBD’s role in reduced lung inflammation and improved function, but human studies are needed to determine safety and efficacy.
Talk with a doctor if you’re interested in learning more about CBD oil as a possible treatment for asthma.
If your current medications are working, switching to CBD may not be recommended. However, speak with your doctor if you’re still experiencing symptoms and flare-ups on your current asthma treatment plan.
Taking CBD without your doctor’s supervision may increase the risk of side effects and decrease its effectiveness. Your doctor can recommend an appropriate dosage, help monitor any side effects, and assess your overall lung function.
CBD oil is considered part of a complementary treatment plan, which may also include conventional asthma medications. Don’t stop taking prescription medications without consulting with your doctor first.
CBD oil has shown to have anti-inflammatory effects in clinical settings, which may be promising in the future of asthma treatment.
Until more human studies are conducted, however, there’s no conclusive evidence that CBD oil should substitute a conventional asthma treatment plan.
Talk with your doctor if you have concerns about your asthma symptoms, and whether CBD oil may be right for you. They can help provide guidance on dosage and help monitor any potential side effects.