Dr. Frankel's Journal

CBD And Asthma

May 13, 2011
Allan Frankel, MD

It has been known for many years that smoked Cannabis is a bronchodilator and can be useful in treating asthma. Usually, asthma is a problem with bronchospasm (wheezes) and increased mucous production in the smaller airways of our lungs. There is a large component of anxiety associated with asthma, as who would not be scared when it is difficult to breathe. More anxiety causes worsening bronchospasm, which causes more anxiety.

Typical inhalers contain adrenergic (adrenaline-like) stimulants, which work well but tend to heighten anxiety. It would be nice to have more alternatives to treat bronchospasm.

Since richer levels of THC can cause increased anxiety, using CBD seems like a reasonable thing to try. Last week a patient came into our office who had obtained some CBD-rich tincture at a local collective and said he felt it was helping his asthma. He was off of his Advair inhaler for a week and wanted to be “checked.”

We administered a baseline spirometry test and then repeated the test 15 minutes after the patient had taken three drops of his CBD-rich tincture. The graphic shows the result:

FEV1 is forced expiratory volume at one second (when the patient breathes out as hard as s/he can).
FVC is forced vital capacity (the amount of air you can blow out after taking a deep breath).
PEF is the peak expiratory flow rate at any point during the exhalation.

You can see that after a three-drop dose of the tincture taken sublingually, the patient’s FEV1 and PEF nearly doubled. This would generally be considered a great response to a typical bronchodilator!

It is well documented that CBD is a very potent bronchodilator and useful in the treatment of Asthma.

Taking CBD by any method does result in decreased airway resistance. So, how about taking it by inhalation without smoke?

Yes, how about that. So, now there are vape pens available that have CBD oil inside them. In general, a couple of puffs will give the patient 6-8 mg of whole plant CBD + some THC directly into their lungs.

We are looking into this for lung cancer as well.