Marijuana and Bronchitis: Are They Compatible?

A pair of lungs and a hand holding a joint

If you’re following cannabis news, you know about the plant’s medical potential and how the scientific community is very interested in researching it.

We know of many strains that can help with overcoming stress and relieving symptoms of more serious conditions. We already have THC pills, CBD oils and other cannabis products that are supposed to improve our health.

But what about common diseases, like bronchitis, for example? Can the plant help in those situations, and is that type of treatment commonly used?

Let’s see what current research says about marijuana and bronchitis.

What is bronchitis?

Bronchitis is an inflammation of the bronchial tubes in your lungs. It usually develops as a complication of another condition (such as cold or flu), and in that case it is treated as a virus.

However, in some cases, bronchitis can happen when the body is infected with other harmful pathogens, and is treated as a bacterial infection.

There are two different types of bronchitis:

  • Acute bronchitis – this is a more common version. It’s usually the end-result of another condition and it typically goes away after a couple of weeks. The symptoms are mild and they don’t necessarily require treatment.
  • Chronic bronchitis – it’s a more complex disorder, and unlike acute bronchitis, this one can last for months and even years. The symptoms are more severe, and although they are not present all the time, they require a more serious approach. In many cases, chronic bronchitis is heavily connected with asthma and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).

Regardless of type, bronchitis is a condition that needs to be taken seriously.

The current state of marijuana and bronchitis research

Can we use medical cannabis to treat bronchitis?

If we look at recent studies, we’ll see that they’re scarce and the results are mixed.

The studies focused on the effect of cannabis smoking on lung function and respiratory symptoms. Some of these studies published results with incomplete data, some showed no significant effect of cannabis use, and others concluded that moderate cannabis use doesn’t affect lungs, while frequent use may cause lung inflammation.

While their conclusions about the effects of weed on lungs differ, the majority of these studies are in agreement that cannabis use is associated with respiratory complications.

However, they also agree that further, comprehensive, long-term research (with subjects who are not tobacco smokers at the same time!) is needed in order to uncover the true effects of cannabis on lung and respiratory issues.

For now, the assumption is that cannabis may somehow help with lung physiology, but contributes to the development of chronic bronchitis.

THC potential in treating bronchitis

How valuable is THC, in particular, for treating bronchitis? 

There’s only one study on the effects of THC on lungs and it was conducted over 40 years ago. However, it was very valuable because researchers today still refer to it in their own studies.

The study followed five asthmatic patients who have never used cannabis before. The administration of several doses of THC resulted in bronchodilatation, the expansion of the lungs’ air passages in all five patients.

That is the biggest documented benefit of THC in relation to the lungs’ health.

So the question to ask is: how to use it as aid?

While we have no evidence that cannabis smoke causes permanent damage to the lungs, current data (though limited) does suggest the smoke may aggravate bronchitis symptoms and transform your bronchitis into a long-term, chronic condition.

So, should you smoke weed if you have bronchitis?

Smoking weed is definitely harmful to your lungs’ health. As soon as the smoking session begins, various toxic components, including carcinogens, are released in our organism and air. In that regard, cannabis smoke is nothing less damaging than regular tobacco smoke.

Having said that, if you find that consuming cannabis helps you feel better, it is only natural that you’ll want to keep smoking even when you’re ill with “common” diseases.

However, if the symptoms of your illness are persistent and difficult to manage, smoking weed may not be such a good idea. In fact, it can make them even worse, as the studies have found.

What about vaping?

The truth is – we don’t have enough data to confirm that vaping is any safer than regular smoking, when it comes to respiratory issues. There have been no comprehensive studies to confirm either its positive or negative effects on the lungs, so we can only speculate.

From what we know so far, dabbing may also contribute to lung inflammation and more dramatic bronchitis symptoms.

Sadly for all devoted cannabis consumers, vaping is not an ideal solution here either.

In conclusion

If you’re suffering from bronchitis, you should ideally abstain from cannabis until your symptoms go away.

While in the short run you may see some benefits, long-term weed consumption may be risky.

If you really feel the need to take some weed, do it, but take breaks between each session.

Consuming weed edibles may be another way to get your needed daily dose and not cause additional stress to your lungs.

Understanding the benefits and downsides of cannabis allows you to take full control of your health. Hopefully our guidelines in this article will help you do that.

About the author
Helena Miles

Experienced journalist with a decade-long experience of researching cannabis. She has been featured in many prominent outlets, such as The Growth Op, National Post and The Province.

Comments (1)

User Avatar
Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Green Camp Logo

Please confirm your age

Are you over 19 years of age (over 18 in Alberta and Quebec)?

By entering, you agree to Greencamp's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.