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The most common respiratory disease, asthma, is a nasty disease that can strike people of all ages, but it is also possible to get rid of it completely.
In this article, we get to know asthma as a disease, see how the endocannabinoid system in the respiratory system works, and consider whether CBD oil could be helpful in addition to the treatment of asthma.
What is asthma?
Asthma is an inflammatory disease of the lungs, which is characterized by the narrowing of the bronchial tubes, resulting in an unpleasant feeling and shortness of breath. The lung mucosa in a state of inflammation irritates the airways, causing symptoms typical of asthma. (1)
Asthma affects almost 10% of Finns and it can strike people of all ages. It is the most common chronic respiratory disease. It is also found in animals such as cats, dogs and horses. It is possible to treat asthma without symptoms, and in children and young people it usually gets better by adulthood. (1)
Both hereditary and environmental factors predispose to asthma. (1)
Typical asthma symptoms are cough, shortness of breath, mucus secretion and wheezing. Children also experience fatigue and playful withdrawal. Usually, the symptoms vary depending on the day and time of day. It may be easier during the day compared to night and early morning, when symptoms related to breathing may arise. (1)
Dust, animal hair, freezing air, strong smells and stress often worsen the symptoms, especially in those who also have an underlying allergy. Bad indoor air is more significant for an asthmatic in terms of worsening symptoms than outdoor pollens, air pollution, etc. Poor ventilation in the home and daycare center/school, humidity problems, dustiness, own or a family member’s smoking, various molds, etc. both cause and worsen symptoms as well as allergies and atopic dermatitis. (1,2)
It is possible to take an asthma test online, which allows you to check your own symptoms for possible asthma. The breathing association test can be found here Asthma test | hengitys.fi .
Asthma is associated with sudden attacks of shortness of breath, characterized by strong coughing fits, difficulty breathing and wheezing. The seizure can be intense and cause a very scary situation where the spirit seems to run out completely. For these situations, there is a medicine that opens the airways and calms the lungs, but if the medicine does not help, you should see a doctor immediately.
Asthma in children and young people often causes fatigue
Asthma in a child can be challenging to identify, as the symptoms are mostly mild, and actual asthma attacks do not necessarily occur. The symptoms are a wheezing exhalation, a night cough and a decrease in general endurance, which can be seen e.g. as an increased need for sleep and being tired of games.
Childhood asthma affects approx. 5% of Finnish children and most of the time it gets better before adulthood. (1)
Asthma in young people is as common as asthma in children, but in addition to the diagnosis, just as many have symptoms of asthma. Asthma in young people also often improves by adulthood, and it is not an obstacle, e.g. for work or hobby activities. (1)
We talk about allergic asthma when there are allergies in the background that worsen or cause symptoms. Symptoms are caused by e.g. animals, street dust, pollen and other small particles in the air. Atopic skin often worsens asthma symptoms.
Aggravation of allergic asthma symptoms is usually caused by immune cells on the surface of the inflamed bronchus, which react to external stimuli, regardless of whether these come directly into the airways or not.
Treatment of asthma
Asthma is treated with medication and self-medication with lifestyle choices. Asthma is an inflammatory disease and it is maintained not only by environmental factors but also by general lifestyles that cause inflammation in the body, such as a poor-quality diet, smoking, alcohol and too little exercise.
Environmental factors, such as poor indoor air, are a significant cause of symptoms, and keeping the home clean of dust may alleviate the symptoms significantly. However, you should not clean too much, especially with strong chemicals, because lungs sensitive to inflammation may also react to chemicals in detergents, such as fragrances. (1,2)
The purpose of asthma medications is both to soothe inflammation of the bronchi and to soothe physical symptoms such as bronchial constriction and shortness of breath.
Inhaled cortisone preparations or tablets are used as asthma medication. In most cases, you have to take an anti-inflammatory medicine taken daily and a medicine used to control the seizure, taken as needed.
Untreated asthma causes permanent changes in the bronchial tubes and in the worst case may even lead to death. If left untreated, asthma worsens over the years to such an extent that you probably feel like seeking treatment at some point.
The endocannabinoid system , which balances the body and monitors everything in the background, also affects the processes that control lung function.
The receptors CB1 and CB2 belonging to the endocannabinoid system, as well as the corresponding endocannabinoids anandamide and 2-AG , all have their own functions in the background of lung function and inflammation in the lungs.
Cannabinoid receptors both have important functions in the lungs and related diseases. The CB1 receptor seems to be more behind normal functions, while the CB2 receptor is involved in inflammation-related functions and their prevention. (3,4)
The endocannabinoid anadamide has been found to relax the respiratory system. It also has anti-inflammatory effects just like 2-AG. According to research, both of these endocannabinoids are strongly present in lung function and have been shown, e.g. regulating and relaxing the pulmonary arteries. (3,4)
CBD oil for asthma symptoms?
A compound found in hemp called cannabidiol or CBD is a molecule that has been studied for decades and, according to studies, has numerous effects on the health of both humans and animals. CBD mainly acts on other receptors in the body, such as TRPV receptors and serotonin receptors, but it also has the effect of activating the cannabinoid system’s own receptors.
According to animal experiments, the CB1 and CB2 receptors activated by CBD have a reducing effect on bronchial inflammation and structural changes. The effect of reducing the hypersensitivity of the airways was observed, as well as the reduction of the inflammatory and relapsing processes of allergic asthma. (5,6)
In addition to the fact that CBD has been found in several studies, e.g. to relieve inflammation and has numerous other properties that may be helpful in relieving the symptoms and side effects of asthma. CBD might help in sleep- related challenges, stress and depression .
Cat and dog asthma
Asthma is also quite common in pets such as cats, dogs and horses. In cats and horses, asthma is clearly more common than in dogs, and the symptoms are all quite similar to those in humans, i.e. cough, wheezing, fatigue and breathing difficulties. (7,8)
CBD oil has also been found to be suitable for treating animals and may have positive effects on animal asthma as well. Usually, CBD oil is dosed to animals according to their body weight.
Asthma is a common inflammatory disease characterized by a long-lasting cough, increased mucus production in the respiratory system and a tight feeling in the chest. Asthma gets worse over time, if it is not treated, and since the treatment is largely self-medication in addition to medication, it is possible to prevent and treat it even before asthma is diagnosed.
CBD oil is versatile, safe and, according to research, an effective reliever of inflammation, and since asthma is an inflammatory disease, it might also help reduce inflammation as a support for asthma treatment.
- Hengitys.fi Asthma. https://hengitys.fi/astma/astman-oireet/#Astmakohtaus. Referenced 2/14/2023.
- Salomaa ER.. 2020. Duodecim health library. Asthma. https://www.terveyskirjasto.fi/dlk00009. Referenced 2/14/2023.
- Bozkurt TE. 2019. Endocannabinoid System in the Airways. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/?term=Bozkurt%20TE%5BAuthor%5D. Referenced 2/14/2023.
- Simon A., Einem von T., Seidinger A., Matthey M., Bindila L. and Wenzel D.. 2015. Nature communications. The endocannabinoid anandamide is an airway relaxant in health and disease. Referenced 2/14/2023.
- Vuolo F., Abreu SC, Michels M., Xisto DG, Blanco N., Hallak JEC, Zuardi A., Crippa J., Reis C., Bahl M., Pizzichinni E., Maurici R., Rocco P., Pizzichinni MM, Dal-Pizzol F.,. 2019. Science direct. Cannabidiol reduces airway inflammation and fibrosis in experimental allergic asthma. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0014299918306836?via%3Dihub. Referenced 2/14/2023.
- Vuolo F., Petronilho F., Sonai B., Ritter C., Hallak J., Zuardi A., Crippa J and Dal-Pizzo F.. 2015. Mediators of inflammation. Evaluation of Serum Cytokines Levels and the Role of Cannabidiol Treatment in Animal Model of Asthma. https://www.hindawi.com/journals/mi/2015/538670/. Referenced 2/14/2023.
- Own animal clinic. Feline Asthma. https://omaelainklinikka.fi/kissan-astma/. Referenced 2/14/2023
- Equivet. Equine asthma. https://www.equivet.fi/hevosen-astma/. Referenced 2/14/2023.