Asthma is a common medical condition and according to statistics from the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, an estimated 25 million people in America, including 7 million children suffer from asthma. Asthma is a leading chronic disease in children. Even though asthma is often confused as an allergy since the symptoms are only seen when triggered, it is a chronic disease which is always present, even when the patient is not experiencing any symptoms. Although there is yet to be a cure for asthma, many medications, and therapies can be used to ease the symptoms. There are also suggestions that CBD is effective in alleviating the symptoms of asthma.
Before we proceed on examining the role of CBD in treating asthma, it is imperative for us to first of all understand how asthma works. It is apparent that asthma causes inflammation in the bronchial tubes, thereby resulting in breathing difficulties. Inflammation is also known to be caused by the presence of immune cells called T-helper cells (Th1 and Th2). It should be noted that these T-helper cells produce pro inflammatory proteins called cytokines when the lungs experience a trigger. This immune response is considered abnormal and for healthy people, allergens cause no problems. However, for asthma patients, when an allergens or substance enters the lungs, the immune system perceives the substance as foreign and subsequently triggers an inflammatory response. That said, other characteristics of asthma include hyperactivity of the airways as well as the secretion of excess mucus in the lungs.
Some studies have been conducted on the effects of CBD and the endocannabinoid system on asthma. A 2015 study that was conducted in a Brazilian University found that CBD inhibit the production of all but one cytokine, thereby resulting in significantly decreased inflammation. It is worthy to note that although this study was conducted on rats, the cytokines that were suppressed by CBD are equally found in human asthma. The researchers were encouraged that the anti-inflammatory properties of CBD would translate to humans. The researchers also noted that CBD is a potentially safer treatment for asthma than medications since it has been reported to be well tolerated by humans, even when administered chronically.
Also, an earlier study had been carried out in 2008 by the same University of Florence in Italy. This study, which was conducted on guinea pigs aimed at evaluating the role of cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2) in preventing the symptoms of asthma. The researchers of this study concluded that both CB1 and CB2 receptors were involved in protecting the lungs. The authors therefore concluded that targeting these receptors could be a potential preventative therapy for asthma patients.
A 2011 study by the Institute for Clinical Pharmacology in Germany also revealed that CBD can prevent airway obstruction, which is largely associated with asthma. Detailed findings from this study revealed that an endocannabinoid neurotransmitter called anandamide could restrain this obstruction. It should be noted that when asthma is induced by a trigger, anandamide increases in a fluid created by the bronchi and the level of anandamide present often correlate with the severity of obstruction and inflammation in the airways. However, CBD has been proven to promote anandamide levels by inhibiting the enzymes that break it down, thereby maintaining higher anandamide levels and preventing bronchi obstruction.
There are also reports that a new breakthrough research is about to be conducted by the University of Israel. This study is expected to focus on the potentials of CBD as a therapy for the symptoms of asthma. Unlike other studies that have been conducted on animals, this will be the first on how CBD affects asthma in humans. Of course, the results from this study have the potential to provide significantly more scientific and societal legitimacy to the effectiveness of CBD when it comes to treating the symptoms of asthma.
Nonetheless, there is a need for further investigations on this subject in a bit to ascertain the exact extent to which CBD can cure asthma and whether or not its 100% safe, without adverse side effects.
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