The Effect of Medical Marijuana on the Lungs of Cystic Fibrosis Patients

Updated on December 18, 2018.  Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer

The Effect of Medical Marijuana on the Lungs of Cystic Fibrosis Patients
Medical marijuana comes in many different varieties of medicine that can suit every patient’s unique medical needs — even those suffering from conditions that attack the lungs. If you know how to safely use it, you can use MMJ to relieve the respiratory symptoms associated with cystic fibrosis.

What Is Cystic Fibrosis?

Cystic fibrosis is a life-threatening condition that severely impacts a patient’s quality of life. It has no cure, but the right treatment plan can reduce its symptoms to make dealing with it easier.

Patients dealing with cystic fibrosis have two copies of a defective gene that cause the mucus, digestive fluids and sweat in their body to become much thicker and stickier than a person without the gene. These thicker bodily fluids cause respiratory and digestive problems.

Respiratory Problems Associated With Cystic Fibrosis

The most prominent problem for many cystic fibrosis patients is its effect on the respiratory system. Normally, your lungs and sinuses have a thin layer of mucus to protect them. But, cystic fibrosis makes the mucus so thick that it can block your airways.

These blockages cause symptoms like:

  • Congestion
  • Wheezing
  • Frequent infections
  • Inflammation
  • Coughing
  • Stuffy nose

As you can see, suffering from cystic fibrosis can feel like always having a cold or much worse. Every cystic fibrosis patient’s experience with the disorder is different, so some patients have tons of respiratory problems, while others go through milder symptoms.

How Can Medical Marijuana Help Cystic Fibrosis Respiratory Problems?

MMJ provides tons of health benefits that can make your experience with cystic fibrosis much easier. The help it can provide you with your respiratory problems includes:

  • Pain relief. Dealing with intense respiratory symptoms can make your chest hurt. Marijuana is known to have pain-relieving effects that can help you feel less sore.
  • Anti-inflammation. Inflammation makes it even harder to breathe when added to the mucus problems. Reducing the inflammation helps you breathe with less pain and difficulty.

How to Treat Respiratory Symptoms with MMJ

Not all medical marijuana treatments are created equal. Depending on the patient’s symptoms and type of medicine used, cannabis can cause immense relief, have barely any effect or make your symptoms even worse. If you decide to try medicinal cannabis, you have to choose the right form of medication to treat your cystic fibrosis effectively.

The different kinds of MMJ treatment include:

  • Smoking
  • Vaping
  • Edibles
  • Topical treatments
  • Tinctures
  • Inhalers

Smoking is the most well-known way to use medical marijuana. However, as you might imagine, it’s the worst way to medicate cystic fibrosis. Just like smoking tobacco, smoking cannabis creates harmful byproducts like tar and other chemicals that will irritate your lungs further.

Vaping and ingesting cannabis could be helpful for you, but we recommend consulting with your doctor and budtender before using them. Vaping can still produce some toxins, and patients with severe digestive problems might not be able to absorb edible medicine properly.

Depending on what you intend to use medical marijuana for, topical treatments or tinctures could work well for you. Lotions and creams can treat chest pains originating in your muscles, and the substances in patches directly reach your bloodstream. You take tinctures under the tongue, so you absorb the medicine without worrying about your respiratory and digestive problems getting in the way.

Some states allow medical marijuana inhalers that don’t require heat to use. Using an inhaler lets you get the chemicals right into your lungs without the potential of producing toxins.

Before You Pursue MMJ Treatment for Cystic Fibrosis

Since cystic fibrosis affects each patient uniquely, we highly recommend consulting with your doctor and budtender before you try any medical marijuana.

Additional Cystic Fibrosis & Cannabis Resources

For more information about how cannabis can be used to treat Cystic Fibrosis, check out our resources: