Does Cannabis Help or Hurt Asthma?

Let's Take A Look At Some of The Research Behind How Smoking Cannabis Affects Asthma

Woman using her inhaler with a cannabis background.

Asthma is associated with difficulty breathing, coughing, and wheezing. The condition can range from being a slight nuisance to life-threatening depending on the severity. When the subject of using cannabis to help with asthma comes up, it’s no surprise that it’s met with skepticism. Anyone with asthma can probably recall their doctor’s spiel on the importance of not smoking cigarettes with the condition. Tobacco is a major irritant and can trigger an asthma attack, and the carcinogens produced from combustion certainly don’t help. However, this isn’t necessarily applicable to cannabis. Some evidence is suggesting that asthmatics could still benefit from its use, even when smoked (although it is still a lot easier on the lungs if you choose to vape.)

Opening the Airways

Asthma is defined by the narrowing and swelling of airways which makes breathing more difficult. Tobacco smoke is known to exacerbate the condition, but surprisingly, cannabis does the opposite. Rather than further narrow the airways, marijuana opens the air passages, allowing people to breathe better.

If you’re thinking about lighting up to help your asthma, just hang tight. While it’s true that marijuana can open up bronchial passages, smoking is still smoking and lungs are sensitive. Vaporizing cannabis, however, could eliminate many risks associated with smoking cannabis, including irritation and inflammation.

Inflammation of the throat

iStock / decade3d

The longterm effects of smoking marijuana can lead to overall impaired lung function, but even that sentiment is often debated. This is because studies like this one have shown that the longterm use of moderate amounts of marijuana does not have an impact on lung function.

In the study, subjects were determined to smoke an average of one joint per day without any lung impairment. Heavy use was not accounted for, so it’s important to remember that in high amounts, any combusted material can damage the lungs. While the verdict is still out on the longterm effects of cannabis smoke on the lungs, plenty of anecdotal evidence still suggests it can be helpful for asthma.

In a study done in 1975, subjects were given a placebo solution between 30 and 60 minutes to recover from bronchial spasms induced by exercise. The subjects given cannabis found relief almost immediately. In 2014 another study backed up the first, finding that THC activates the CB1 receptors which dilated the organs and effectively stopped the spasms.

Inhalers are typically used to prevent or relieve asthma attacks by opening the airways. Some patients have found that they can replace using their inhaler by using cannabis, though it should be done with care.

Ditch the Smoke for Something Cleaner

Environmental factors like pollution can trigger or worsen asthma, which is why the idea of smoking something to help seems strange to many. The best way to circumvent the potential inflammation and irritation caused by smoking is to not smoke at all. Instead, give a vaporizer a try.

Best vaporizers


Vaporizing cannabis is a great solution for asthmatics who are rightfully hesitant to spark up a joint. There are so many different types of vaporizers available, the biggest issue might be deciding which to choose. There are easy on-the-go vaporizers that can be carried around much like an inhaler. If you keep a vaporizer on you, you’ll be able to dilate your bronchial passages quickly in a discreet way.

Consuming marijuana may help in the long run as the cannabinoid THC is known to help open the airways. Of course, taking a tincture or eating a marijuana-infused treat is not going to help with bouts of asthma that need attention quickly. It takes a while for cannabinoids to hit the bloodstream, so edibles would be best for prevention over time.

Best Strains for Asthma

If you’re going to use cannabis medically to treat asthma, you want to make sure you go about it in the most effective way. Different strains are known for their unique abilities, and a lot of it comes down to their terpene profiles.

For example, strains high in limonene, a terpene known for its lemony scent, are popular amongst asthmatics. It’s not just anecdotal, though. Studies have shown that limonene reduces airway inflammation.

Super Lemon Haze:

This strain is highly recognizable by its sweet, lemony taste and smell. It is a sativa-dominant hybrid and the THC levels can reach up to 25 percent. With this in mind, don’t go too heavy with it from the start as too much can lead to paranoia and anxiety.

Super Lemon Haze is loved for its uplifting effects, making users more social and energetic. It’s relatively easy to grow, which makes it a great medical choice.


Tangie is another sativa-dominant hybrid that typically ranges from 19 to 22-percent THC. It is known for its tangerine scent, thanks to high amounts of the terpene linalool. Like limonene, linalool is another powerful terpene for asthma.

It is an energizing strain that helps users boost their own mood and creativity. Because of these effects, it’s often used to help with depression or anxiety.

Pineapple Express:

This popular hybrid strain leans sativa-dominant, with THC levels maxing out around 24 percent. It smells like, you guessed it, fresh pineapple.

This strain is calming and stimulating at the same time, making it less overwhelming or overstimulating than other popular sativa-dominant strains. It’s slightly sedative as well, making it a great choice for reducing inflammation.

It gives a happy, heady high that still allows users to function, despite its sedative effects. It’s a great choice for a number of conditions because it feels well-balanced and comfortable for most users.

This article is purely for research and informational purposes, and in no way represents medical advice. Please consult your doctor before altering any current treatments, or self-medicating with cannabis. 

Does Cannabis Help or Hurt Asthma? was last modified: by