Can Smoking Cannabis Lead to Bronchitis?

As we all know smoking isn’t good for our lungs and may lead to some very serious ailments, such as bronchitis. But is it true with cannabis too?

In the last decade, the marijuana plant has become very popular for its recreational as well as medicinal uses. Many experts, including medical marijuana doctors of Riverside CA, believe that the plant is very beneficial in managing various physical and psychological conditions, including chronic pain, arthritis, PTSD, anxiety, depression, etc. However, most of us wonder about its effects on our lungs.

The most common way of consuming cannabis is smoking. We all know that smoking is known to have some very adverse effects on our lungs. However, several studies have suggested that smoking cannabis is not as dangerous as tobacco and it doesn’t lead to bronchitis or any other serious ailment.

Let’s take a look at what the evidence suggests.

What is Bronchitis?

Bronchitis is a medical condition in which the lining of the airways (trachea) that carry air to the lungs get inflamed or swollen. The condition may vary from acute to chronic. 

Acute bronchitis isn’t generally a very big problem. It often happens due to an infection by some virus or bacteria. Acute bronchitis goes away as soon as the infection goes away.

On the other hand, chronic bronchitis usually happens due to constant exposure for a long time to some irritating substance. That includes chemicals, air pollutants, and smoke. As per various studies, smoking is, in fact, one of the most significant reasons behind the development of chronic bronchitis. More than 75 percent of bronchitis patients all around the world are either smokers or have been smoking in the past.

A constant exposure to smoke irritates the lining of the airways to the lungs, which, in turn, get inflamed. This leads to an excessive production of mucus and various other respiratory symptoms, which include:

  • Constant coughing
  • Chest tightness
  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath

Now, from the information given above, you may believe that smoking cannabis, too, can cause bronchitis. However, it’s not as simple as it looks. The research on the subject suggests that cannabis smoking can actually have some very different effects on our lungs. Let’s see how.

Cannabis And Your Lungs

A 2012 research suggests that cannabis smoking can have some very unexpected effects on our lungs. The study analyzed around 5000 men and women in the United States for a period of 20 years. The participants included both tobacco smokers and marijuana smokers. 

All the participants were asked during the study to breathe in as deep as possible and then exhale forcibly into a device that records the air volume inside. The researchers measured the participants’ FEV1 (Forced Expiratory Volume) and FVC (Forced Vital Capacity) levels. FEV1 indicates the amount of air a person exhales in the first second. And the FVC indicates the total air exhaled.

The results of the tobacco smokers were, without any surprise, low. However, with marijuana smokers, the results were completely the opposite. The research found that medical cannabis smokers, whether current or ex, had a better FVC score. And the ex-smokers also had a better FEV1 score.

The results were seen quite constant for a period of around seven joint years, with 365 joints making one joint year. But after this point, the results started to level out. And after ten joint years, they started decreasing.

This positive effect can be due to various reasons. Firstly, THC has anti-inflammatory effects, which tend to relax the airways to the lungs, making it easier for the air to pass through them. And secondly, cannabis smokers usually inhale deeper as compared to the tobacco smokers. And due to this, they probably stretch their lungs, and increase their total capacity.

The research, in the end,  concluded that smoking cannabis occasionally doesn’t have any adverse effects on our lungs. 

Cannabis Smoking And Bronchitis

The 2012 research discussed above has some fascinating results. However, it still doesn’t explain if smoking cannabis can cause bronchitis or not.

Some researches, however, suggest that despite the positive effects on our lungs cannabis still can lead to bronchitis. However, here too, the answer isn’t as simple.

weed lungs

The research on the subject is not very straightforward. For instance, many studies that are conducted on the effects of cannabis smoking on lungs use “joint years” for measuring the amount of cannabis a person smokes. However, they don’t take into account the size of the joints or if any filter is used while smoking or not.

Another issue with these studies is that many times weed smokers smoke tobacco too. And this too makes it very difficult for researchers to analyse the exact effects of cannabis smoking on the lungs.

The bottom line is that smoking, in general, can cause bronchitis, and we cannot disclude cannabis from it. However, there is good news too. If you decide to quit cannabis smoking, after a period of around ten years, the risk of developing the symptoms of bronchitis becomes just like a non-smoker.

Methods other than Smoking

Fortunately, there are many other ways of consuming your favorite plant than just burning it up and gulping it down. For instance, you may go for cannabis-infused edibles. These are very famous among those cannabis consumers who don’t like smoking. However, the dosage can be a bit tricky in these, and you can easily get intoxicated, if not careful. And therefore, many stay away from this method.

You may also try dabbing. This method too involves inhalation. However, the product you inhale, here, is much purer than smoking. And thus, the risk of lung irritation is a lot less. We don’t recommend vaping, as it, too, may cause some level of irritation. Other methods may include creams, patches, tinctures, oil, etc. 

As the cannabis industry is developing, there are many new consumption methods making their way into the market every now and then. And this is amazing news for people who want to enjoy cannabis but don’t want the risk of developing bronchitis or any other lung-related issues.

Final Thoughts

Smoking cannabis is obviously a much safer option than smoking tobacco. The research has pointed out that smoking marijuana at a moderate level does not have any negative effects on the lungs. However, it doesn’t mean it is totally safe.

Smoking any type of substance, including cannabis, may lead to bronchitis or some other lung-related ailment. Therefore, if you are afraid of developing any such condition, you should choose some other way of consuming the herb. There are several alternative consumption methods like edibles, topicals, and patches. You just need to do some research and find what suits you best.