Asthma The topic of cannabis and asthma is somewhat infamous among patients as well as within the medical community. Many patients are aware of how cannabis can positively impact their lives. Yet, there is also a general taboo around the subject, due to the effects of the plant and its methods of consumption, as opposed to the nature and symptoms of asthma.
In this article, we present you with a range of different tips and tricks to better handle cannabis and asthma.
Meet the patient
Mark is a Dutchman and one of the cannabis experts we have the honour of counting in the Sensi Seeds team. He lives in the Netherlands, where the weather can be very humid, and where pollen and various plant matter is known to fly around, even in big cities, and especially in Spring.
Mark has suffered from asthma all his life, and has been medicating with cannabis for more than two decades.
In order to give a concrete reference to our readers, here are a few details about how Mark handles his condition, and the severity of his symptoms.
Cannabis treatment: Daily vaporisation of dried cannabis flowers (approx. 2 grams per day).
Physical activity: Mostly sedentary, with daily, average pace walking.
Background: From very severe (daily severe difficulties + frequent attacks + regular visits to ER + antibiotic treatments) to manageable (aforementioned treatment + difficulties once to twice per year).
Due to all these years of self-medicating, Mark has accumulated a large amount of empirical knowledge in terms of what works best when it comes to cannabis and asthma. Read his dos and don’ts below.
Cannabis and asthma: What to do?
Cannabis has the potential to alleviate symptoms experienced by asthma patients regardless of the method of consumption. However, this does not mean all of these methods are equal in efficiency. It also does not mean that using any of the least asthma-friendly ones is entirely harmless. Key elements to consider are:
- Optimal safety
- Potential for instant relief
- Controllable dosage and efficiency
Smoking cannabis is still an option, but depending on the severity of your condition, it may escalate an existing asthma-related crisis, or even trigger one. Edibles, on the other hand, because of certain variables such as the time they may take to release their effects, can be used as a long-term treatment, but would not be reliable enough in the case of an attack. This is why for emergency treatments, vaporising is definitely the best option for cannabis and asthma. Not only is the release of cannabinoids in the body close to optimal, the risks for the lungs are at an absolute minimum.
Of course, smoking cannabis is not harmful to the average, healthy human body. However, as an asthma sufferer, you need to watch out for anything that can deteriorate the quality of the chemical elements that enter your respiratory system.
Select the best vaporiser possible
Needless to say, the quality of your vaporiser is of the utmost importance, even if you only use it for recreational purposes. To put it simply, a poorly manufactured or non-adapted vaporiser will not vaporise properly, for instance combusting the substance used rather than vaporising it, making the entire experience fairly pointless.
And of course, if you are using such a vaporiser in the context of a respiratory disease, it could turn out to be a hindrance rather than a source of relief.
Buying pen-like items can be tempting for portability reasons. However, the smaller the vaporiser, the more chances key elements will underperform or simply be absent.
Based on this statement, home vaporisers have a tendency to provide satisfying performances. However, a number of portable vaporisers can also be of use. At Sensi Seeds, we are quite partial to two creations from our friends at Storz and Bickel, and many of us highly recommend them – including Mark, our patient here.
Read more about the Crafty and the Mighty in our webshop:
Learn how to vaporise cannabis
Consumers that use cannabis for recreational purposes often only have one objective in mind when they start vaporising: to inhale some vapour. And surely enough, this sole objective leads most people to acquire over time a satisfactory method of vaporising.
However, when vaporising for medical reasons, it becomes more of a necessity to not only inhale a sufficient amount of vapour, but also to effectively inhale it while not causing more issues. For instance, a violent coughing fit can make an attack go from distressing to life-threatening in a short amount of time.
Mark’s ultimate method for vaporising: Slow and steady wins the race; take small calm ’hits’ from your vaporizer, as if drinking a thick milkshake. Try to get some sort of calm vaping/breathing rhythm going. One hit from the vaporizer through the mouth, followed by three normal breaths (through the nose if possible). A three to five second vapour inhalation seems good enough, close to 10 becomes too much. Hold the vapour for a second or two and calmly exhale.
Optimise your vaporising experience
Once you have found the vaporiser of your dreams, and you have mastered the vaporising rhythm that suits you best, very little remains in your way. Yet, even the smallest things can become obstacles!
Avoid the most basic consequences vaporising can have on your respiratory system by always having the necessary elements to counter them:
- Itchy/dry throat: always have a big bottle of water nearby and take sips regularly (do not wait for your throat to itch or until you cough).
- Go easy on your lungs: start vaporizing at a lower temperature such as 180C. Work your way up if needed, but do not exceed 220C. A flow of air that is too warm is not recommended for your lungs.
- Inhalation of plant matter: ensure your vaporiser’s accessories include mesh filters to prevent bits from travelling to your lungs, especially if you suffer from hay fever, a common sister disease of asthma.
- Regarding hay fever: do not rub your eyes after you have handled cannabis flowers
- Keep your vaping equipment as clean as possible using alcohol and lint-free cloths
Customize your vaporiser with a water pipe
Many vaporisers, especially home vaporisers, have the necessary connections allowing them to be hooked to an additional device. Connect a water pipe to your vaporiser, and vaporise through the warm water. This will help you inhale when your lungs are already in a bad shape.
However, ensure that the water does not get too hot as it could have the opposite effect. If you feel like your lungs are filled with mucus, opt for a dry vaporising session instead. Warm, dry air is good for the lungs.
Choose the best cannabis possible
There is a very wide range of medicinal properties attributable to cannabis. Unsurprisingly, not all cannabis strains are completely beneficial to the vaping asthma patient. Once you have found the perfect vaporiser, it is therefore very important to consider which cannabis strain will benefit you the most, and in which state you should consume it.
Mark’s advice on choosing your cannabis: I prefer well-cured strong indicas, they work best for me, muscle/mind relaxing wise. Cannabis strength depends on the cannabis tolerance of the patient. Fresh weed works less well, there’s too much water in it (for the same reason, do not rely on cannabis oil to medicate). And fresh weed is less strong in effect so you need to consume more. Asthma attacks can be scary, so go for a strain that keeps you calm.
Cannabis and asthma: What not to do?
Don’t smoke tobacco, or even cannabis
Smoking tobacco can be extremely harmful to one’s lungs, mostly on a long term basis. To asthma sufferers, its negative effects can have quite immediate impact.
Depending on the severity of your asthma, it can also be damaging to smoke cannabis. Vaporising can provide somewhat of a similar experience, with virtually no danger.
Don’t use cannabis “dabs” (for medicating)
Dabs are becoming increasingly popular. Medicinal cannabis dabs are also gaining ground, but in the context of asthma, they simply don’t fit the bill. Dabbing does not equate vaporising, as it can potentially expose your lungs to an overwhelming experience. Besides, the potency of most dabs can be a hazard, especially if you are already in a state of major stress and/or anxiety.
Don’t give up on your pharmaceutical treatment
It may be tempting to give up on pharmaceutical drugs altogether, especially when cannabis-induced results exceed expectations. However, existing anecdotal evidence, including this article, is not enough to guarantee safety in all possible asthma-related situations.
Asthma is by nature unpredictable, as it depends on literally hundreds of factors ranging from environmental ones to dietary habits, and even psychological states. Ironically enough, you could even experience a small panic attack following the realisation that your inhaler is not in your pocket, which could in turn trigger an asthma-related issue. Do not underestimate the multiple effects your prescription drugs can have on you, including the placebo effect.
Know your limits
If cannabis, for one reason or another, appears to be aggravating your state rather than improving it, stop consuming it. This could happen for a number of reasons.
Please refer to Mark’s step-by-step method for vaporising, as described above. For instance, if you are inhaling massive vapour clouds because of increasing confidence in your treatment, it could be damaging to your lungs, especially during an attack.
Choose the first time you experiment with cannabis wisely
Waiting until your asthma symptoms manifest to try to medicate for the very first time is not recommended.
Instead, make sure to experiment in a peaceful, safe context, and while you are not experiencing any major respiratory issue. You need to acquire sufficient knowledge about your body, and how it responds to various degrees of cannabis intake. This means that you should be ready to counter any issue that could arise due to your lack of experience: possible coughing, inappropriate dosage, etc. Once you have a clear understanding of how vaporising can affect your breathing, throat and mouth, you can ease into using it to palliate to symptoms such as short breath, wheezing, tightness in the chest area, for recovering after a severe attack, and even to actually counter a full-blown asthma attack.
Don’t prioritise your desire to medicate with cannabis over your life
We understand the thrill of finding a solution to a medical problem that is all-natural, non-invasive, and possibly, overall more efficient. However, in the same way you should never solely rely on an inhaler to keep you healthy and safe, cannabis should not become your lifesaver. Keep your inhalers handy. And if you are experiencing a critical asthma-related issue, don’t try to talk yourself into good health. Try to gage the situation objectively, and if necessary, call a doctor.
Are you an asthma patient yourself? Mark, the interviewee, and Jay, the interviewer, both are. Tell us about your personal experiences with cannabis and asthma in the comments section below!