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Published: December 1st, 2016
Categories: Cannabis Info
If you are a cannabis smoker and take care of your body, you probably wondered what effect smoking cannabis has on the health of your lungs. While it is common sense that smoking is bad for your respiratory system, things are more complicated concerning cannabis. This article will give you the low-down on the connection between lung health and cannabis.
The first and foremost risk of inhaling any smoke is lung cancer. Ash particles aren't the best companions for your lungs and that is a known fact. But, it seems that isn't completely true for cannabis. A study in Atlanta that analyzed data from the National Health And Nutritional Examination Survey showed that users which consumed "low to moderate" amounts of cannabis for 20 years didn't show any signs of lung damage, "low to moderate" being one joint per day. The data studied was from spirometry tests, a type of test that measures airflow as you inhale and exhale. Another research dealing with spirometry tests from the Journal of the American Medical Association confirmed these claims and even showed that these users displayed an increase in lung capacity (compared to non-smokers). This increase is due to the way cannabis is smoked; people tend to inhale a huge hit and then hold it in for a period of time which contributes to the above average lung capacity.
However, heavy smokers do have a cause for concern. It is more likely that long-term, heavy smokers will have trouble exhaling and they have more inflammation in the small air pathways, which can cause asthma-like symptoms later in life. And there are more ways you irritate your lungs than just smoke. Rolling papers and other products used to smoke are processed with a number of different chemicals that damage your lung tissue.
As far as lung cancer is concerned, research is conflicting. A study made by an institution from New Zealand concludes that there is a direct link between lung cancer and cannabis use in the case of heavy smokers, but, it needs to be said that all of the participants of the study were 55 years of age or older. The correlation between those two isn't completely clear, although it has been recorded that cannabis contains many of the cancer-causing toxins found in tobacco. On the other side, research that has been conducted at the Complutense University of Madrid has shown that THC causes tumor cells to destroy themselves in animals. Another study at a German university suggests that CBD prevents cancer cells from infecting other cells and that it can possibly be used for clinical treatment of lung cancer. As you can see, these claims are diametrically opposed and the real question is can both of them be true? More research is needed and we hope that there will be a concrete answer to that question soon.
There are many different ways of smoking cannabis and everyone finds their favourite. Still, some methods are safer and healthier than others, so let us check out the most popular:
If you want to smoke, this is the healthiest way of using cannabis, by far. There is no direct flame and no burning of plant materials. The vaporizer heats cannabis to the desired temperature for it to start vaporizing, which reduces the irritating and harmful effects of smoking.
A standard Bic lighter can reach a temperature of almost 2,000°C. That means that you inhale ash particles only a second after the plant material has burned at 2,000 degrees. Not only that, the smoke is unfiltered and you inhale the chemicals found in rolling papers and such.
These types of cannabis paraphernalia use water to cool down the smoke before it hits your lungs. Not only does the water cool down the smoke, it also filters any unwanted ash and plant materials which would later turn into tar in your lungs. It needs to be noted that these water-based methods are far from perfect as they do not catch all unwanted particles.
Dabbing concentrate is a growing trend around the world and it is getting more popular by the day. There are a couple of things that need to be addressed concerning dabbing. It is a good idea to use ice to cool the smoke down and it should be said that the concern about inhaling solvents is controversial, because butane evaporates very fast, even at room temperature.
First of all, stop using "schwag", or in other words, low-quality cannabis that doesn't look or taste right. There is no standardized quality control for cannabis and by smoking "schwag" you could be smoking leftover contaminants, such as pesticides, fertilizer, etc. Needless to say, these compounds are very harmful to your lungs and overall health.
Second, try using edibles. They completely bypass the issues concerning smoking cannabis as they are eaten and digested. There are a lot of options to choose from, be it brownies, cannabis-infused guacamole or cannabis oil.
And you probably already heard about various breathing exercises that help you eliminate toxins and keep your airways clean. These breathing exercises, such as deep belly breathing and cleansing breath pranayama, can be found online in various video tutorials and are very simple to do at home. The next time after you smoke a bowl, try to put aside 10-15 minutes of your time and do one of those exercises, your lungs will thank you for it.
For the last bit of advice, we will let you in on a little trick. Vaporizers aren't only useful for smoking cannabis. Many plants have powerful medicinal properties and have been used to treat respiratory conditions for centuries, even those found in most households. Plants like celery, oregano, eucalyptus and many more can be used to clean your lungs and keep them healthy.
All in all, as most research that deals with cannabis, the information isn't conclusive and we are left with the need for a more detailed and thorough study on the effect of cannabis smoking on the respiratory system. Until that, you should use cannabis in moderation and look out for your health and well-being.