The perception of cannabis use has shifted dramatically over the last decade. From the vice of social outcasts to a treatment for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, the use of cannabis has also changed, too. Cannabis is a plant that has been around and in use for various purposes for centuries, with its medical effects commonly stated as the reason for use.
Using cannabis responsibly is as important as understanding it’s possible effects. The high of marijuana is something that has driven a small, underground industry in the US to become a multi-billion dollar industry with millions of users each month. Of the popular methods of using cannabis, smoking is the most common way to consume it.
Though the medical benefits of using cannabis have been put forth, even garnering some mainstream attention, there is still much to understand about the long-term effects of smoking cannabis. At California Lung Associates, our experienced providers take seriously the health and care of your lungs, including protecting them from the harmful effects of smoking.
What is marijuana?
Marijuana is the most-used name for several strains of the cannabis plant. Different strains are purported to have different effects for your health and overall well-being, no matter the method by which they’re consumed. Human use of cannabis began in Asia around the year 500, and has spread all over the world since then.
Marijuana’s effects are the result of cannabinol and THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol. Marijuana is known primarily for its soothing and relaxing effects on the mind and body. Marijuana often yields feelings of euphoria and happiness, provided the user can tolerate the chemicals in the marijuana flower they’ve chosen.
Other psychological side effects of marijuana include paranoia, dizziness, anxiety, or panic. Using cannabis isn’t for everyone, and young people smoking cannabis is a public health concern, as it can impact their development. The fetuses of pregnant people are also vulnerable to THC, and young children can be poisoned by edible marijuana products.
What happens to my lungs when I smoke marijuana?
Funding for studies on the long-term effects of smoking marijuana has been limited for decades. Small studies, though, have found evidence that smoking marijuana, despite its health benefits, can damage your lung tissue.
The consensus in the medical community is that smoke, no matter the source, is harmful to lungs. Whether it comes from cigarettes, marijuana, or even burning wood, smoke irritates your lungs by injuring the cell linings. This makes you vulnerable to prolonged and painful coughing, wheezing, and phlegm.
Smoking marijuana has not been definitely proven to raise the risk of lung cancer. Without raising the risk of cancer, however, smoking marijuana increases your chance of a visit to the emergency room with respiratory problems, including chronic bronchitis. Smoking raises your heart rate in an unhealthy way, inflames the lungs, and suppresses the immune system.
Could there be something wrong with my lungs?
Combusting and inhaling smoke allows carcinogens, cancer-causing elements, into your body. While there is evidence to suggest that anti-cancer properties exist in cannabis, it is not known how this affects your risk for long-term lung damage from heavy or frequent cannabis smoking.
If you are a smoker, particularly if you are a heavy smoker, it is important to consider quitting. It’s also important to find a pulmonary specialist to help you protect the health of your lungs. For more help in your journey to optimal health, call us today at 213-441-0156, or book an appointment with us online.