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Can CBD help with asthma, and how?

Asthma is a respiratory disorder in which a person’s airways become inflamed and narrowed, causing coughing and chest pain, which, in severe cases, can make breathing difficult.


The typical treatment for asthma is to open up the airways using an inhaler that sprays drugs. These medications provide short-term relief, while other steroid-based inhalers provide long-term comfort.


CBD oil may be able to help avoid and reduce the frequency of asthma attacks with its potent anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic (suppresses muscle spasms) properties, making patients able to manage their symptoms.


Understanding Asthma

Asthma can be an allergy, a workplace issue, or something more severe. It cannot be cured, but some victims can avoid the factors that trigger the symptoms.


Many asthma patients have been treating with CBD for some time, making experts explore the connection between CBD and asthma.


According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA),


Asthma is more common in children than adults, more common in boys than girls, and more common in adult women than adult men.

Over 25 million Americans have asthma, and the number has been increasing since the early 1980s across all sex, age, and racial groups.

Each day, 10 Americans die from asthma. Most of these deaths are avoidable with proper treatment and care.

How CBD Can Help with Asthma

CBD may interact with the endocannabinoid system to reduce mucus production, as one review indicates.

CBD functions as an immune modulator and some allergy sufferers may find improvement in their condition, according to Dr. Karyemaître Aliffe, a physician who focuses on cannabis-based healthcare options.


Cannabis activates the CB1 and CB2 receptors, reducing airway sensitivity in people who have asthma. However, this activity would be more related to full-spectrum, THC-rich products than with a CBD isolate.


Dr. Philip Blair, an endocannabinologist, believes that full-spectrum CBD is more effective due to the entourage effect.


The entourage effect is a phenomenon that shows synergy among cannabinoids. It results when the many components within the cannabis plant interact with the cannabinoids in the human body to create a stronger impact than any one of those components alone.


Whole plant-derived CBD also performs better and more consistently with reduced adverse effects than isolate, at significantly lower quantities of CBD.


Dr. Blair recommends taking CBD oil orally, or by using a vape pen. He said asthma responds well to oral CBD.


In his experience, liposomal products are effective in immediately improving several aspects of this disorder. 


Dr. Blair adds, “Vaporization of CBD is helpful but not as complete as oral or sublingual use.”


CBD oil is anti-inflammatory.

Asthma, a chronic inflammatory disease, causes patients to experience persistent low-level inflammation of their bronchial tubes, even when symptoms are not apparent. During an asthma attack, inflammation is exacerbated, which constricts airways and makes breathing challenging.


Researchers in a 2015 study examined the role of CBD in treating asthma. In this study, which used animal subjects, the authors concluded that CBD appeared to be a possible new drug to moderate the inflammatory response in asthma.


In another study, scientists found that CBD helped to reduce airway inflammation and fibrosis in animal subjects that were experiencing an allergic asthmatic response.


CBD oil is an antispasmodic.

During an asthma attack, spasms impact the bronchi and bronchioles by contracting the muscles in the lungs, which then makes breathing difficult. 


Research demonstrates that CBD can provide relief from muscle spasms, and this characteristic is proven by its use in treating epilepsy.


CBD oil has also gained popularity for helping treat many conditions that involve spasms or tremors, such as multiple sclerosis (MS), Parkinson’s disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).



Experts continue to examine the efficacy of CBD oil in treating asthma.


However, while laboratory studies exhibit CBD’s potential benefits to asthma patients, consulting with a doctor first before beginning a CBD regimen is the best course of action.


Patients may also consider speaking with a naturopathic doctor specializing in using CBD to treat medical conditions.




    Entry of gastric contents or other foreign substances into the
    respiratory tract.  This in turn may produce obstruction of the
    airways and/or chemical inflammation of the lung.


    Any agent causing loss of protective airway reflexes, in particular
    those resulting in central nervous system depression or seizures.

    Pulmonary aspiration of certain hydrocarbons can occur without
    significant depression of the level of consciousness and may result in
    hydrocarbon pneumonitis.


    Anaesthesia (general or local pharyngeal)
    Cerebrovascular accidents
    Gastroesophageal reflux
    Nasogastric tube feeding
    Neuromuscular diseases
    Seizures or post-ictal states


    The clinical signs and symptoms are typically those of a chemical
    pneumonitis and develop rapidly, usually within two hours, following
    the aspiration.  These symptoms/signs include dyspnoea, cough, fever,
    wheeze and cyanosis.   These signs and symptoms may be partially or
    completely obscured by the clinical features (especially CNS
    depression) of the precipitating intoxication. 

    The diagnosis may be confirmed by the presence of an infiltrate on
    chest x-ray and/or relative hypoxaemia, or by bronchoscopy.

    Severe cases may progress to severe hypoxaemia (PaO2 < 50 mmHg),
    apnoea and shock.


    Non-cardiogenic pulmonary oedema
    Pneumonia of infectious origin
    Pulmonary emboli
    Respiratory Distress Syndromes (e.g. ARDS)


    Chest x-ray:  Typically shows diffuse bilateral infiltrates (massive
    aspiration) or densities in dependent lung segments (posterior
    segments of upper lobes, superior segments of lower lobes and basilar
    segments of lower lobes).  However, any distribution of x-ray
    infiltrate in the clinical setting should suggest the diagnosis.

    Arterial blood gas analysis:  Hypoxaemia and respiratory acidosis. 
    Alveolar-arterial O2 gradient correlates with severity of



    Initial management is supportive and includes:

         Establishment of airway patency 
         Ensuring adequate ventilation
         Administration of supplemental oxygen
         Vigorous airway suctioning to remove any residual aspirated
         Nebulised bronchodilators
         Fluid therapy to maintain normovolaemic state

    Prophylactic antibiotic therapy is not indicated.  Antibiotics should
    only be given to treat bacterial superinfection (see below). 
    Antibiotic selection is empiric in the first instance but may
    subsequently be modified on the basis of culture results.  A suitable
    regimen covering the usual oral anaerobes is:

          Benzylpenicillin 600 mg intravenously  every 4 to 6 hours for 1
    to 2 days for a total of 10 days (may switch to amoxicillin-clavulinic
    acid when oral therapy appropriate)


          Metronidazole 500 mg intravenously every 12 hours for 1 to 2
    days followed by 400 mg orally  every 12 hours for a total of 10 days 

                    or as a single agent 

          Clindamycin 600 mg intravenously slowly (over 30 minutes) every
    8 hours for 1 to 2 days followed by 300mg orally every 6 hours for a
    total of 10 days.

    Aerobic gram-negative bacilli are likely in alcoholic or chronically
    hospitalised patients and is this situation, replace benzyl penicillin
    with  Cefotaxime 1g intravenously every 8 hours or  Ceftriaxone 1g
    intravenously daily.

    Corticosteroids are of no benefit and may be detrimental.

    Bronchoscopy is useful in those patients suspected to have aspirated
    large particles that might be retrieved from the airway (suggested by
    persistent atelectasis).


    Mortality is dependent on the extent of the initial aspiration and
    correlates with both the extent of the radiologic infiltrate and the
    arterial-to-alveolar oxygen tension ratio. 

    Most patients improve rapidly.  The chest x-ray infiltrates usually
    resolve within two weeks.

    Clinical deterioration occurring at about 48 hours following the
    aspiration indicates likely bacterial superinfection.  This
    deterioration is marked by recurrent fever, leucocytosis, development
    of purulent sputum and a new or extending pulmonary infiltrate on


    Pulmonary recovery is usually complete in those patients surviving the
    acute phase.


    Author:        Lindsay Murray, Queen Elizabeth II Medical Centre,
                   Perth, Australia. 

    Peer Review:   Rio de Janeiro 9/97: J.N. Bernstein, E. Birtanov,
                   R. Fernando, H. Hentschel, T.J. Meredith, Y. Ostapenko,
                   P. Pelclova, C.P. Snook, J. Szajewski
                   London 3/98:  T. Della Puppa, T.J. Meredith, L. Murray,
                   A. Nantel.







    Reversible constriction of the small air passages of the lower

    respiratory tract.




    Beta adrenergic blocking drugs


    Hydrocarbon aspiration

    Irritant gases:     Ammonia   



                        Hydrochloric acid fumes 

                        Nitrogen dioxide



                        Sulphur dioxide

    Metal fumes ("metal fume fever")











    Dyspnoea, wheezing, cyanosis and cough are the presenting features. 

    The patient may also be too breathless to speak.  There may be a

    'silent' chest.  There is usually a tachycardia.  In severe cases,

    "pulsus paradoxus" may be evident.




    Airways obstruction due to increased bronchial secretions

    Chronic obstructive airways disease


    Left ventricular failure (cardiac asthma)

    Pulmonary thromboembolism



    Respiratory compensation for metabolic acidosis

    Upper airway obstruction




    Arterial blood gases (in severely ill patients)

    Chest X-ray

    Peak Expiratory Flow Rate (PEFR)

    Forced Expiratory volume in one second (FEV1).




    Administer supplemental oxygen.


    In the first instance, give a beta-adrenergic agonist such as

     salbutamol as an aerosol using a nebulizer (2ml of 0.5% salbutamol

    respirator solution contains 10mg of salbutamol).  The dose may be

    repeated at 20 minute intervals or even continuously.   Salbutamol 

    may also be given intravenously, starting with an infusion of a

    solution containing 5 mg in 500 ml (10 mcg/mL) at a rate of 3 to 20



    If there is no satisfactory response to 2 to 3 administered doses of

    salbutamol, give  hydrocortisone 300mg, intravenously stat and 200mg

    intravenously every four hours thereafter until the patient is better. 

    Oral  prednisolone 40mg/day may be started at the same time as

    intravenous corticosteroids.


    In severe cases,  aminophylline may be added (a loading dose of

    5 mg/kg infused over 60 minutes, and 0.5 to 0.9 mg/kg each hour

    thereafter, aiming to obtain a serum concentration between 8 and

    20 mg/L). 


    If the patient's clinical condition and arterial blood gases

    deteriorate despite the above measures, intermittent positive pressure

    ventilation (IPPV) may be necessary.  Ventilation however is rarely

    necessary for bronchospasm following toxic exposures.




    Unless the patient is an asthmatic, improvement is generally rapid. 

    Fatalities are rare.  The patient should be carefully monitored until

    improvement occurs. 




    None from the bronchospasm itself. 


    Sensitization to a toxic substance may result in reactive airways





    Author:        Dr Ravindra Fernando

                   National Poisons Information Centre

                   Faculty of Medicine

                   Kynsey Road

                   Colombo 8

                   Sri Lanka


                   Tel: +94 1 686142

                   Fax: +94 1 691581


    Reviewers:     Rio de Janeiro 9/97: J.N. Bernstein, E. Birtanov,

                   R. Fernando, H. Hentschel, T.J. Meredith, Y. Ostapenko,

                   P. Pelclova, C.P. Snook, J. Szajewski.

                   London 3/98: T. Della Puppa, T.J. Meredith, L. Murray,

                   A. Nantel.