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Medical Marijuana and Pulmonary Fibrosis

What Is Pulmonary Fibrosis?

Human lungs are actually large organs that are designed to move oxygen and carbon dioxide between the air we breath and our lungs. Your body requires oxygen to keep a wide variety of cells throughout the body healthy and functioning properly. When human cells are starved of oxygen, they eventually die. Conversely, the lungs also help your body eliminate carbon dioxide from your body. If carbon dioxide builds up within your blood stream, you will suffer from headaches, drowsiness, and eventually lapse into a coma and die. Pulmonary Fibrosis is a progressive disease that, over a period of time, causes the tissue inside the lungs to become thickened, scarred, stiff and damaged. The medical term used to describe the scar tissue is fibrosis. Although there are other diseases or conditions that can cause fibrosis within the lungs, when there is no other known cause it is called Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis, or IPF.

As the Pulmonary Fibrosis progresses, the thickening and scarring of the lung tissue gets worse, making it difficult for the lungs to transfer oxygen into the blood stream. When this happens, the cells within your body begin to suffer from oxygen starvation. The rate of progression of the disease varies widely among sufferers. For some, the disease progresses rapidly while in others it may take years to cause serious symptoms. Symptoms of Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis include chest pain, dry cough, aching joints or muscles, fatigue, weight loss and a shortness of breath during activities.

The damage caused by Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis cannot be repaired and there is no known cure for the disease. Conventional treatment for IPF is aimed at reducing the effect of symptoms, making the patient more comfortable, and slowing the progression of the disease. Common treatment options include steroids and anti-inflammatory drugs, oxygen therapy, counseling, and lung transplant in some cases.

Medical Marijuana and Pulmonary Fibrosis

Medical Marijuana and Pulmonary Fibrosis

For many patients living with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis, treatments that are aimed at reducing the inflammation within the lungs is a priority. By reducing inflammation within the lungs, the patient is able to breath easier, and enjoy participating in activities more. Conventional anti-inflammatory medications can have serious negative side-effects that may lead to damaging other internal organs within the body. Medical marijuana may be a viable, alternative anti-inflammatory therapy that does not come with the same negative side effects.

In addition to its anti-inflammatory properties, medical marijuana can be a integral part of an Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis treatment regime considering the calming, anti-anxiety effects that medical marijuana offers users. Being diagnosed with IPF can often cause depression and anxiety giving the long-term prognosis associated with the disease. Medical marijuana can be used as an alternative to conventional anti-depressant or anti-anxiety drugs that come with serious negative side effects when used for an extensive period of time.

Medical Marijuana and Pulmonary Fibrosis: Clinical Evidence

When many people think about medical marijuana, they think about the analgesic uses that are the result of the THC found in marijuana. While medical marijuana certainly can be an excellent pain reliever, it also contains other properties that are of medicinal use. For example, Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a major component of medical marijuana. Recent clinical studies have shown that CBD contains properties that helped to relieve convulsion, inflammation and anxiety in study participants.

Along with the anti-inflammatory benefits of medical marijuana, sufferers of IPF can also benefit from the anti-anxiety effect of using medical marijuana. Clinical studies have reported that many patients do feel a calming, relaxing effect after using medical marijuana; however, some report an increase in anxiety. The differences in individual body chemistry are believed to be the root of the disparity among results.

Because idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis affects the lungs, a sufferer may have a seriously comprised respiratory system. As a result, the traditional manner in which marijuana is used -- smoking medical marijuana -- may not be a good idea for anyone suffering from IPF. There is, however, another healthier mechanism that is equally effective for using medical marijuana - vaporization. Cannabinoids, one of the active compounds found in medical marijuana, are volatile, meaning they can be vaporized at relatively low temperatures. In effect, this means that the marijuana can be turned into vapor without high temperatures that could cause combustion or smoke. The hot air can then be drawn through the marijuana which will cause the cannibinoids to vaporize. Once the cannabinoids have been vaporized they can be easily inhaled.

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