In the last several years, many people with sensitive lungs have turned to vaping with the idea that it’s a safer smoking experience. But is vaping safer than smoking? Can people with COPD experience marijuana’s benefits from vapor?
Health benefits of marijuana
Marijuana may provide calming effects that improve certain mental and physical conditions. For instance, a doctor might recommend medical marijuana to people with Crohn’s disease as an alternative way to ease inflammation, nausea, and vomiting.
Studies are currently underway to evaluate the benefits of cannabidiol (CBD), a chemical compound found in marijuana. CBD shows promise as a treatment for a variety of medical conditions, including:
Dronabinol (Marinol) and nabilone (Cesamet) are approved to treat nausea due to chemotherapy and to assist in helping to achieve weight gain in people with AIDS.
The mouth spray nabiximols (Sativex) treats nerve pain and muscle control problems associated with MS. It contains both CBD and THC. It’s been approved for use in Canada and in countries throughout Europe. However, it’s yet to be approved by the FDA.
The impact of smoking marijuana
Marijuana doesn’t have the exact same negative effects as smoking cigarettes. However, most health experts still warn against smoking the drug. That’s because smoking marijuana can harm your lungs or worsen respiratory issues that already exist for you.
Even though cannabis rarely contains nicotine, marijuana smoke does contain harmful chemicals. These chemicals include:
tumor promoters, including carcinogens, which are cancer-causing substances
Research shows that smoking marijuana also causes visible and microscopic injury to the large airways. This is associated with an increased likelihood of developing chronic bronchitis.
The inhalation patterns when smoking marijuana are different than when smoking cigarettes. Studies have shown that marijuana smokers tend to take larger puffs, inhale more deeply, and hold their breath longer when compared to those who smoke cigarettes.
The damage to the lungs from smoking marijuana, in which abnormal, large air sacs called bullae form and can rupture, may be the reason marijuana smokers are at risk for developing a pneumothorax, which is when air gets into the space outside the lungs and causes a collapsed lung.