Inhaling cannabis can make for easier breathing by opening up airways in the lungs

Inhaling cannabis can make for easier breathing because it dilates – or opens up – the airways in the lungs, according to a 1973 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.


The study, whose authors went on to achieve high professional status in medicine, included 17 volunteers, all of whom had previous cannabis-smoking experience.

Randomly, nine received cannabis containing 2.6 per cent THC, while eight smoked cannabis that was one per cent THC.

Airway resistance beneficially decreased by 38 per cent in the higher-dose group.

The airway was expanded or unblocked by 44 per cent.

The low-dose group also showed significant positive change in the lungs’ airways.

“Marihuana smoke, unlike cigarette smoke, causes broncho-dilatation rather than broncho-constriction and, unlike opiates, doesn’t cause central respiratory depression,” said lead researchers from the Boston University School of Medicine.

Heart rate increased 28 per cent in the higher-dose group, while this side effect was not documented in the lower-dose group.

With a 52-year distinguished career in Medicine, lead researcher Dr. Louis Vachon, who last year died just shy of this 85th birthday, worked at Boston University School of Medicine for 52 years as psychiatrist, research fellow, professor, and chair of his department.

Professor Muiris X FitzGerald is Emeritus Professor of Medicine and Therapeutics at University College Dublin, where he was Professor of Medicine and Consultant Physician (St Vincent’s University Hospital) from 1977 to 2006 and then Dean of the Faculty of Medicine from 2000 to 2006.

The 1973 study was carried out under FDA authorization and a Grant of Confidentiality from the U.S. Department of Justice.



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