While several studies, including this one from the Journal of the American Medical Association, have come out saying that cannabis does not compromise lung health, some patients will experience respiratory issues when smoking. Here’s why and what to do about it:
According to The American Lung Association, smoking cannabis regularly can injure the cell linings of the airways, which can lead to symptoms like coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. Cough drops and hot tea can soothe your throat if you took too big of a hit, but you may want to try edibles or a tincture if you find cannabis smoke too harsh.
The Journal of Toxicology warns that pesticide residues and other contaminants present on the cannabis plant are always transferred into the smoke. Huffington Post reports that long-term exposure to these toxins they can cause flu-like illnesses or even heart disease. High Times recommends sourcing organically grown cannabis to avoid these risks. respiratory effects of smoking cannabis
Users also often risk exposure to infectious organisms, like fungi or molds, according to a study on the respiratory effects of cannabis and tobacco. The most common mold, called Aspergillus, can have serious consequences for people allergic to it. Call your dispensary before you light up to make sure your cannabis has been lab-tested.
Tar can inhibit the lung’s ability to protect against germs. According to a study by Tashkin, a pulmonologist who has studied marijuana for 30 years, one joint deposits four times as much tar as one cigarette. You can reduce tar by eating cleansing foods and herbs, like the ones listed here.
Weakened immune system
Smoking cannabis, like smoking cigarettes, can make it harder for your immune system to fight against harmful microbes, according to the British Lung Foundation. If you think you may be more susceptible to colds and flus, check out Harvard Medical School’s tips for boosting your immune system.
If you’re experiencing respiratory problems, smoking may not be right for you. That doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from cannabis as a medicine. Try edibles, tinctures, and vaping flower or a clean concentrate.