Can CBD Oil Help With Lungs?

  • CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties were shown to reduce the level of most asthma-related cytokines and loosen up constricted bronchial airways(1)
  • A 2013 study on guinea pigs found that CBD inhibited airway obstruction and helped with symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD)(2)
  • In a review, scientists observed that CBD oil significantly decreased the size and number of tumors linked to lung cancer(3).
  • However, most studies on CBD’s possible effects on the respiratory system were conducted on animals. Currently, there is no substantial evidence that CBD can treat lung diseases.

Why People are Turning to CBD Oil for Lungs

Different types of disorders or diseases may hinder the lungs from functioning correctly. Lung diseases can affect one’s ability to breathe (respiratory function) and the lung’s capacity to work (pulmonary function).

Lung diseases affect millions of Americans. According to the American Lung Association, about 37 million Americans live with chronic lung diseases, such as emphysema, chronic bronchitis, asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD)(4).

Exposure to tobacco smoke, whether through firsthand or secondhand smoking is the leading cause of COPD, a chronic inflammatory lung disease that obstructs airflow in the lungs. 

Other causes include prolonged exposure to dust, fumes, air pollution, and genetics.

Lung cancer remains the most prevalent cancer-related cause of death in the United States, with approximately two-thirds of people diagnosed are non-smokers or former smokers(5).

While available treatments may help ease the symptoms of lung diseases, most come with adverse effects. Thus, there is a growing interest in possible alternative treatments to lung diseases. 

Cannabidiol or CBD has emerged as one of the possible alternatives.

CBD is a naturally occurring compound derived from cannabis, either from marijuana or hemp plants. CBD is said to have therapeutic benefits without the-psychoactive effects.

In 2015, an animal study concluded that CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties were able to reduce the level of most cytokines, leading researchers to conclude that CBD might alleviate bronchial inflammation and swelling during asthma attacks(6).

Cytokines are naturally occurring molecules that regulate the body’s response to inflammation and immunity(7).

Research also showed that CBD might improve the lungs’ ability to inflate while addressing inflammation issues(8).

A study on mice with acute lung injury (ALI) observed that CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties improved the airways in the mice subjects(9), thereby possibly treating lung inflammation. 

The study also observed that the therapeutic benefits of CBD manifested within one day of administration. Subjects also exhibited better lung capability and decreased signs of inflammation.

In 2013, scientists induced an allergic reaction in several guinea pigs. They found that CBD inhibited bronchial airway obstruction, suggesting that it might play an essential role in dealing with obstructive airway disorders, such as COPD(10).

CBD oil has mostly been studied and used in palliative care for cancer patients. A 2019 review noted that one lung cancer patient with CBD oil self-administration might have resulted in a significant reduction in size and number of his cancer tumors(11).

The Pros and Cons of CBD for Lungs

Pros Cons
Researches on CBD suggest its anti-inflammatory properties may inhibit the inflammation and swelling of the airways(12)(13) Studies on CBD’s efficacy as a potential treatment for airway disorders were mostly done on animals. There is no definitive proof that CBD might exert the same respiratory effects in humans(16).
One study showed that CBD’s therapeutic benefits manifested in a day. Subjects also exhibited better lung capability and decreased signs of inflammation(14). The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has yet to approve CBD use on lung diseases.
The World Health Organization (WHO) classified CBD as “generally well-tolerated with a good safety profile.”(15) Side effects of CBD may include diarrhea, reduced appetite, fatigue, and drowsiness(17).
CBD may adversely interact with patients’ medications(18).

CBD Oil Usage and Dosage

CBD products may be taken orally or topically.

Inhalation or vaping has also emerged as a popular form of CBD intake in recent years. However, inhalation of vapor oils may carry unknown risks. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cautions users that an outbreak of vaping-related lung injuries is due to THC-containing vape products(19). Lung injuries may lead to death.

CBD oil products can be purchased online or via retailer stores and dispensaries. However, consumers should make sure that the store has proper certification and authorization to sell CBD. If buying online, it is best to read up on reviews.

Conclusion

Lung diseases affect millions of American. While traditional pharmaceutical treatments are available, some people are exploring alternatives.

CBD has emerged as a promising therapeutic agent for several lung diseases, particularly asthma and COPD, through its anti-inflammatory properties. 

However, most studies on CBD’s possible effects on the respiratory system were conducted on animals. Currently, there is no substantial evidence that CBD can help with lung diseases.


  1.  Vuolo, Francieli, Fabricia Petronilho, Beatriz Sonai, Cristiane Ritter, Jaime E. C. Hallak, Antonio Waldo Zuardi, José A. Crippa, and Felipe Dal-Pizzol. “Evaluation of Serum Cytokines Levels and the Role of Cannabidiol Treatment in Animal Model of Asthma.” Mediators of Inflammation 2015 (2015): 1–5. https://doi.org/10.1155/2015/538670.
  2. Dudášová, A., S.d. Keir, M.e. Parsons, A. Molleman, and C.p. Page. “The Effects of Cannabidiol on the Antigen-Induced Contraction of Airways Smooth Muscle in the Guinea-Pig.” Pulmonary Pharmacology & Therapeutics 26, no. 3 (2013): 373–79. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pupt.2013.02.002.
  3. Sulé-Suso, Josep, Nick A Watson, Daniel G Van Pittius, and Apurna Jegannathen. “Striking Lung Cancer Response to Self-Administration of Cannabidiol: A Case Report and Literature Review.” SAGE Open Medical Case Reports 7 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1177/2050313×19832160.
  4. “Our Impact.” American Lung Association Impact | American Lung Association. American Lung Association, April 2, 2020. https://www.lung.org/about-us/mission-impact-and-history/our-impact.
  5. Ibid.
  6. Vuolo F., (2015)., op. cit.
  7. Barnes, Peter J. “The Cytokine Network in Asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.” Journal of Clinical Investigation 118, no. 11 (November 3, 2008): 3546–56. https://doi.org/10.1172/jci36130.
  8. Vuolo, Francieli, Soraia C. Abreu, Monique Michels, Débora G. Xisto, Natália G. Blanco, Jaime Ec Hallak, Antonio W. Zuardi, et al. “Cannabidiol Reduces Airway Inflammation and Fibrosis in Experimental Allergic Asthma.” European Journal of Pharmacology 843 (2019): 251–59. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ejphar.2018.11.029.
  9. Ribeiro A, Almeida VI, Costola-de-Souza C, et al. Cannabidiol improves lung function and inflammation in mice submitted to LPS-induced acute lung injury. Immunopharmacol Immunotoxicol. 2015;37(1):35-41. 
  10. Dudášová, A., (2013)., op. cit.
  11. Sulé-Suso, J., (2019)., op. Cit.
  12. Vuolo F., (2015)., op. Cit.
  13. Ribeiro, A., (2015)., op. Cit
  14. Ibid.
  15. WHO. Expert Committee on Drug Dependence. (2017, Nov 6-10). Cannabidiol (CBD). Retrieved from https://www.who.int/medicines/access/controlled-substances/5.2_CBD.pdf.
  16. “CBD and Lung Disease: Lung Health Institute.” Lung Health Instititute. Lung Health Institute, February 21, 2020. https://lunginstitute.com/blog/can-cbd-cure-my-lung-disease/.
  17. Brent A. Bauer, M.D. “CBD: Safe and Effective?” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, December 20, 2018. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/consumer-health/expert-answers/is-cbd-safe-and-effective/faq-20446700.
  18. Ibid.
  19. “Outbreak of Lung Injury Associated with the Use of E-Cigarette, or Vaping, Products.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, February 25, 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/basic_information/e-cigarettes/severe-lung-disease.html
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