COPD: Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
COPD is an illness characterized by increased production of mucus and chronic inflammation of the airways resulting in reduced respiratory capacity. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) includes various lung issues, such as emphysema, bronchiectasis and chronic bronchitis.
It’s third in disease death rates, behind only heart disease and cancer, individuals who are unfortunate enough to contract this disease can have a very short life expectancy (0-3 years).
COPD creates constricted airways in the lungs and leads to the progressive deterioration of the alveoli, the air sacs that allow for gaseous exchange in the lungs. COPD renders them unable to fully accommodate breathing cycles causing obstruction.
It is difficult to treat effectively and conventional treatment has many unwanted side effects.
COPD tends to gets progressively worse, often leading to death.
The primary cause of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is tobacco smoke (including second-hand or passive exposure).
Other risk factors for COPD
The causes for COPD have opposite patterns according to the geographic areas. In high- and middle-income countries tobacco smoke is the biggest risk factor, meanwhile in low-income countries exposure to indoor air pollution, such as the use of biomass fuels for cooking and heating, causes the COPD burden.
COPD has four stages, patients on supplementary oxygen are in the last two stages.
In these communities, indoor air pollution is responsible for a greater fraction of COPD risk than smoking or outdoor air pollution.
COPD Biomass fuels used by women for cooking account for the high prevalence of COPD among non-smoking women in parts of the Middle East, Africa and Asia.
Indoor air pollution resulting from the burning of wood and other biomass fuels is estimated to kill two million women and children each year.
Other risk factors for COPD include occupational dusts and chemicals (such as vapors, irritants, and fumes) and frequent lower respiratory infections during childhood.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) symptoms include breathlessness, chronic coughing, increased sputum, chest tightness or pain with difficulty breathing, increased lung infections and fatigue.
Diagnoses rates continue to rise and there are many theories behind this increase. Air pollution and tobacco smoke are known culprits. Inhaled pathogens cause an inflammatory response, resulting in diminished lung function and COPD patients have increasing difficulty clearing the airways as they get older.
Conventional treatments for COPD
There’s currently no cure for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), but treatment can help slow the progression of the condition and control the symptoms.
Tobacco smoking and COPD
If you are a smoker you must quit immediately. Donald P. Tashkin MD is an American pulmonologist. A major study of lung function in various age brackets, over eight years found that tobacco-only smokers had an accelerated rate of decline, but marijuana smokers, even if they smoked tobacco as well, experienced the same rate of decline as non-smokers.
“The more tobacco smoked, the greater the rate of decline. In contrast, no matter how much marijuana was smoked, the rate of decline was similar to normal.”
Tashkin concluded that his and other studies do not support the concept that regular smoking of marijuana leads to COPD.
Inhalers and medications can be prescribed to help make breathing easier. There is also the option of pulmonary rehabilitation, basically a specialised programme of exercises and relaxation techniques to strengthen muscles and assist in breathing more easily.
Surgery or a lung transplant can be performed on patients suffering chronic, debilitating symptoms from Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) although this is only an option for a very small number of people. Supplementary oxygen can be administered in chronic cases.
The main medications prescribed for Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) sufferers are are:
Theophylline is a tablet that relaxes and opens up the airways. It’s usually taken twice a day.
You will need to have regular tests during treatment to check the level of medication in your blood
Theophylline may not be available in every strength or form as the brand-name version. Talk to your doctor to see if the generic version will work for you.
Side effects include:
- Sickness and vomiting; Migraines and persistent headaches; Disrupted sleep patterns (insomnia)
- Palpitations and irregular heartbeat
Theophylline may be used as part of a combination therapy. This means you may need to take it with other medications.
Mucolytic in tablet or capsule form
If you have a persistent cough and produce thick, sticky phlegm, your doctor may recommend taking a mucolytic medication called carbocisteine. There are a number of mucolytics available in the UK. These include carbocisteine and erdosteine. These are available as capsules or oral liquids. Two other types of mucolytic are available to prescribe. They are called dornase alfa and mannitol. These medicines are inhaled but are usually only prescribed for people with cystic fibrosis.
Mucolytic medications make the phlegm in your throat thinner and easier to cough up. They’re taken as a tablet or capsule, usually three times a day.
They are normally prescribed for people with a long-term (chronic) productive cough. If you have a productive cough, your lungs make a lot of mucus (sputum) and you cough this up. Examples of people who may have a chronic productive cough include people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and people with cystic fibrosis.
If you have COPD, they are most likely to help if you have moderate or severe COPD and have frequent or bad flare-ups (exacerbations). The number of flare-ups of symptoms tends to be less in people who take a mucolytic
The steroids to treat disease are corticosteroids. Not what some athletes and bodybuilders use.
The long-term use of steroid tablets can have serious side effects such as:
- Weight gain
- Mood swings
- Weakened bones (osteoporosis)
A 7 to 14-day course of treatment is usually recommended and is monitored to avoid any of the complications that can arise from long term use.
Your doctor may prescribe you antibiotics if you show signs of a chest infection.
Cannabis treatments with regard to Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
Smoking medical marijuana in its herbal or extract form is counter productive for those suffering from COPD. Inhaling smoke into the lungs simply aggravates the condition.
Vaporized or ingested cannabis, however, does provide many benefits due to its anti-inflammatory, immunosuppressant, and bronchodilating qualities and is successfully used by many sufferers.
Most of the reported efficacy in treating respiratory illness with cannabis has been linked to anti-inflammatory properties. Additional benefits include:
- Improved sleep patterns and Increased function of the immune system
- Pain relief regarding chest and lung regions and Reduction in mucous and phlegm production
The most beneficial results have been achieved by ingesting cannabis, either as tinctures, edibles, but particularly by the administration of highly condensed cannabis oil extract made from C.indica dominant hybrids. (Northern Lights #1, Pineapple, Purple Kush, Blueberry etc.).
Bronchodilatory effects of cannabis treatment for COPD
Bronchodilatory simply means relaxing and opening of the air ways. Studies by the Respiratory Pharmacology Laboratory in Paris have shown that CB1 receptor activation inhibits contraction of the muscles surrounding the lungs. This is the receptor THC binds with and THC has been demonstrated to have a beneficial effect.
Cannabis has bronchodilator, anti-inflammatory and anti-tussive activity in the airways, but, information on the active cannabinoids, their receptors and the mechanisms for these effects are limited.
Studies performed by Sackler Institute of Pulmonary Pharmacology, King’s
College London, and at the University of California Los Angeles by Donald Tashkin have shown that both inhaled and orally ingested THC can induce bronchodilation for up to two hours after administration.
Tashkin also noted that an anti-proliferative effect of THC has been observed in cell-culture systems and animal models and is shown to promote known apoptosis and to counter angiogenesis. Other antioxidants in cannabis may also be involved in countering malignancy.
THC moderates suppression of the immune system in COPD patients
COPD causes a heightened immune response in the lungs and compounds in cannabis have a causal effect on immunosuppression. Studies demonstrate that THC activates a specific set of white blood cells that originate from bone marrow called myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs)
These cells inhibit the proliferation and activation of T-cells, a component of the body’s immune response. Other findings have shown that THC reduces allergen-induced mucus production.
Additional studies performed at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine support these findings, where they determined that injections of THC caused modification in microRNA expression that promotes the suppression of the immune system
Anti-inflammatory effects of cannabis medications on COPD
Juicing fruits and vegetables is claimed to be healthy, but there are new warnings that the practice of liquidizing fruit and vegetables into a drink, could be doing us more harm than good.
A leading gastroenterologist has reported a rise in the number of patients believing they have Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
Dr Jonathan Hoare, a consultant at St Mary’s Hospital, in London, said some people are unable to digest the sugars in fruit and vegetables, known as FODMAP which hit the gut faster if reduced to a liquid. This new study does not apply to juicing raw cannabis.
The acidic cannabinoids found in the raw plant that have not been decarboxylated by heating have a greater anti-inflammatory capacity than their non-acidic counterparts. In its raw form, the cannabis plant contains both THCA (Tetrahydrocannabinolic-acid) and CBDA (Cannabidiolic-acid), two cannabinoids known for their medicinal benefits; each of which must be heated in order to produce THC and CBD, respectively. Only when you decarboxylate THCA, turning it into THC, does it cause psychoactive effects associated with smoking cannabis.
“If you don’t heat marijuana, you can go up to five or six hundred milligrams and use the plant strictly as a dietary supplement by upping the anti-oxidant and neuro-protective levels which come into play at hundreds of milligrams of CBDA and THCA. It is this dramatic increase in dose from 10 mg of psychoactive THC to the 500 mg – 1,000 mg of non-psychoactive THCA, CBDA, and CBGA that comprises the primary difference between traditional medical marijuana treatments and using cannabis as a dietary supplement.”
Specifically studies by Ruhaak, et al., have shown that acidic cannabinoids are capable of inhibiting enzymes called cyclooxygenases (COX-1 and COX-2). These enzymes are responsible for the production of inflammatory molecules such as prostaglandins, which contribute to airway inflammation.
Recently studies performed at the University of Sao Paulo using cannabidiol (CBD) have also shown some potential for improving the symptoms of COPD. Using LPS, a component of the cell wall of gram-negative bacteria as an inflammatory agent, they showed the application of CBD resulted in decreased pulmonary inflammation and improvements in lung function in mouse models of inflammatory lung disease
Other studies of terpene compounds, the aromatic components found in cannabis show anti-inflammatory benefits as well. In particular, beta caryophyllene has been shown to act as a dietary cannabinoid, attenuating inflammatory responses in various tissues in a CB2 receptor-dependent fashion
Cases of successful cannabis treatments for COPD
Jeff Waters was diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and was prescribed a daily dose of 22 pharmaceutical drugs. When he was hospitalized in Oklahoma several years ago he was put into a medically induced coma. The doctors said if he had waited another 24 hours for treatment he would have died. But after starting cannabis oil, his health improved dramatically.
“I woke up and noticed a little swelling and discomfort around my sinus region. I believed it was a sinus infection and brushed it off as nothing. Over the next 24 hours my face started to swell more, so my wife took me to the closest emergency room.
The doctors really didn’t do much of an examination. They just accepted my word that it was a sinus infection, gave me Benadryl, and sent me home. The swelling got worse, so we went to a different emergency room. They gave me some antibiotics, treated me with COPD medications, and sent me home. When I woke up the third day, I looked like I had been in a 10 round boxing match and lost!
My eyes were so swollen I was having trouble seeing, and I was very foggy in the brain. My wife rushed me to a hospital an hour away. The doctors did a big work up and found I was having an allergic reaction to Lisinopril, a blood pressure medication I had been taking for years. I also had pneumonia. The doctors said if we had waited another 24 hours, I would have been dead! They had to put me into a medical induced coma, as well as attach a ventilator because my lungs were in such bad shape they could not do the job on their own at that point.”
Jeff made contact over the Internet with other COPD victims who recommended the use of cannabis oil, and through them, found a reliable source. After buying and using the oil for two months, Jeff was able to survive without any conventional medication and was able to dispense with his oxygen cylinder.
He is now able to walk between two and 5 miles per day and advocates that cannabis oil gave him back his life.
Listen to Jeff interviewed on Cannabis Health Radio
If you need any advice or help on Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) or any related matter please use the contact form provided. We try to answer all emails within 24 hours and are happy to help and advise on all aspects of medical marijuana treatments in complete confidence.