How Does Medical Marijuana Effect Bronchodilation?

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

How Does Medical Marijuana Effect Bronchodilation?
When you first imagine medical marijuana, you might think it’s bad for your lungs since we usually conceptualize it as smoking. However, MMJ comes in many different forms that suit every patient’s medical needs — you just need to know what you’re looking for. Medical marijuana can provide benefits that standard medicine doesn’t and cause less side effects.

What’s a Bronchodilator?

Bronchodilators are medicines that relax your airways to relieve symptoms of respiratory illnesses. They come in the form of inhalers, liquids, tablets and injections and can be short-acting or long-acting. Short-acting medicines are used to provide quick relief, while long-acting medicines help maintain control of your symptoms.

The most common and iconic type of bronchodilator is the inhaler. It can be used as a long-acting medication or a short-acting medicine, depending on the variety. Injections, liquids and tablets generally provide long-acting relief.

Common Bronchodilators

There are many pharmaceutical bronchodilators out there to give patients options when looking for relief. Some of the most popular short-acting inhalers include:

  • Pirbuterol
  • Metaproterenol
  • Albuterol
  • Levalbuterol

Patients using longer-acting inhalers use varieties like:

  • Serevent
  • Foradil
  • Advair
  • Symbicort
  • Perforomist

Bronchodilators can also come in the form of theophylline, a pill sold with its original name or as Uniphyl or Theo-24.

Eligible Conditions Treated With Bronchodilators

Some respiratory disorders can be legally treated with medical marijuana. Conditions approved in various locations in the U.S. include:

Check your state’s qualifying conditions to see if the respiratory disorder you have is considered eligible for medical marijuana.

Bronchodilator Side Effects

Just like any other medicine, bronchodilators can cause side effects you should be aware of before using them. Common side effects for any type of bronchodilator include:

  • Nausea and other digestive problems
  • An increase in heart rate
  • Nervousness
  • Muscle pains

Medical Marijuana and Bronchodilation Side Effects

When used properly, medical marijuana can counteract the side effects of bronchodilators. Here’s how:

  • Nausea. MMJ can reduce nausea and ease digestive problems.
  • Nervousness/Anxiety. Depending on the strain, medical marijuana can calm the patient down and reduce anxiety symptoms.
  • Muscle pain. Pain is one of the most common symptoms that patients want to treat with MMJ because there’s so much anecdotal evidence that it works.

The most popular strains of marijuana that can help with bronchodilator side effects include:

  • Jillybean
  • Purple Kush
  • Chocolope
  • Cheese
  • God’s Gift
  • Death Star
  • Agent Orange
  • Alien OG

Can I Use Medical Marijuana as a Substitute for a Standard Bronchodilator?

Marijuana is considered a Schedule I drug under federal law. This means that on a federal level, marijuana is illegal to distribute and use. So, it’s very difficult for researchers to conduct clinical trials on medical marijuana for purposes like bronchodilation.

So, what does this mean for you? It means that the members of the medical industry, regardless of viewpoint on marijuana, don’t have much evidence to guide them to help you. For more obscure facets of medical marijuana research, like its relation to bronchodilation, there just isn’t enough information out there yet.

We highly recommend talking with your doctor before using medical marijuana for bronchodilation purposes. Only they can make the judgement call for the appropriateness of MMJ as a sole treatment.

How About Using MMJ As a Supplement to Bronchodilation?

While we can’t recommend in good faith using MMJ as your main source of bronchodilation, it could enhance the effect of your bronchodilator and reduce your side effects. With close supervision from your doctor, you could breathe easier without the drawbacks of standard inhalers and other bronchodilators.

Always Consult With Your Doctor and Budtender

At, we’re dedicated to giving you comprehensive knowledge about MMJ — but, we aren’t medical professionals. This information is meant to help you start a conversation with your MMJ professionals rather than substitute it. Have a chat with your doctor and budtender before you try medicating with medical cannabis.

Additional Cystic Fibrosis & Cannabis Resources

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