Tuesday, September 28, 2010

History of Asthma: 1981 (Marijuana warning)

Until the 1980s cannabis (marijuana) was a viable option for asthma, and it still is in some third world nations.  Studies proved it improved lung function by as much as 25 percent, plus it helped relieve the feeling of air hunger.

Yet by 1980 it was learned that smoking the drug came with the risk of damaging lungs and turning asthma into chronic bronchitis.  So the risks of smoking it far outweighed the advantages.

I was a patient of National Jewish Health in 1985 and one of my fellow asthmatics had a problem with smoking the weed.  In fact, it was such a problem at the time that the hospital made an effort to mention recent studies that mentioned that smoking cannabis can harm a young asthmatics lungs.

I received the packet in 1985 and it's dated 1981.  I still have it in my collection.  It was titled:  "Learning about asthma."

1. Again, all smoking is harmful to the lungs, including marijuana to smoke.
  • a. rumors persist that marijuana acts like a bronchodilator: while THC, the active compound in marijuana, may have mild dilating effect, the effect is short-lived and would only occur if ingested orally. Smoking nullifies any bronchodilating effect and, in fact, will cause bronchoconstriction.
  • b. use of marijuana can lead to unstable peak flows due to changes in theophylline metabolism
  • c. studies show that marijuana usage can lead to adverse effects on short-and long-term memory function.


  1. Hi. I live in a state with medical cannabis. Along with severe persistent asthma, I have chronic insomnia, for which I've tried numerous treatments, including medications and behavioral changes. Nothing much worked or worked very long. Because I am hyper-reactive to smoke, I did not think I could use cannabis, however, there is now sophisticated vaporizer technology, along with edibles and tinctures. One need never smoke cannabis again. So about a year ago I got a decent vaporizer and a recommendation. It does help my insomnia and does have a mild bronchodilator effect...certainly it does give me deep relaxation which helps my mental status and sleep, plus that relaxation is also beneficial when my lungs are doing badly. I sometimes use edibles, as well (brownies are nice). Overall, in the year I have used cannabis my lung function is no worse or better than in past. I have had no adverse effects, but am generally better rested. Especially useful for sleep when I am on high doses of prednisone. No changes in my short or long term memory.

  2. Smoking does NOT nullify the bronchodilating effect, nor does it "mess" me up. You're "friend" may have been a bit "messed up" because he had other behavioral problems.

    I had problems with my memory long before I ever smoked weed (I started in my 30's), and it actually HELPS me recall memories. As a musician, the effects on the creative mind are astounding, and it's given me an understanding on how much of the greatest music ever recorded was conceived.

    Vaporizers also work, and are an attractive option, albeit expensive for a decent one.

    Additionally, I know quite a few older (over 50) marijuana users who are in much better shape than non-users, even much younger. Cancer statistics regarding marijuana are skewed because most marijuana smokers also smoke cigarettes. They have yet to develop a solid link between respiratory diseases and marijuana alone.

    The best option, of course, is cooking and eating it, but can be expensive as it uses more product.

    So I DID put it in my pipe... and I AM smoking it!

  3. This post wasn't meant to be a pro or con marijuana post. It was merely one page in the asthma history book.