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What are the Pulmonary Effects of Smoking Marijuana?

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Literature Review

Marijuana scientifically referred to as Cannabis sativa is a dry hemp plant material that is often smoked like cigarette. Marijuana consists of an active ingredient called delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol which plays a vital role in the destruction of the lungs and pulmonary systems of smokers. According to Winger et al (2004), delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol is rapidly absorbed from the lungs and quickly bounds to the endogenous cannabinoid receptors within the central nervous system thus leads to psychoactive effects that users seek. Marijuana smoking is the commonest method of marijuana use and can either be rolled cigarette or through water filled pipe.

Studies suggest that it is frequently inhaled by many marijuana patients as intensely hot fumes, typically to peak inspiration, and kept as long as possible before being steadily exhaled. This form of smoking has a stronger influence on the pulmonary system, according to a study by Forrester et al (2012), because it predisposes the lung parenchyma to higher harm than normal tobacco cigarette smoking. Research has been conducted in the past on the consequences of smoking marijuana and has shown that the risk of frequent marijuana smoking is close to that of regular cigarette smoking (Onaivi, 2006). There are several reports on the impact of nicotine on the respiratory system, and tobacco has been profiled and related to several diseases. Nonetheless, few reports have concentrated on the effects of weed on lung function.

Using a series of 10 patients aged between 32 and 50, two women and eight men, Hii et al (2008) studied the impact of smoking marijuana on pulmonary emphysema. Participants were those who recorded new respiratory problems in the respiratory unit over a span of 12 months and those who admitted that they were frequent marijuana patients. In the lecture, the participants also displayed the following signs, including dyspnoea, pneumothorax and some form of chest infection. In this analysis, in the mid and upper areas, high resolution CT reveals variable shaped, asymmetrical emphysematous bullae. However, in four cases, the CT showed normal CXR and in five patients, normal lung function was normal. This research reveals that pot smoking predisposes human users mainly in the usual CXR atmosphere and lung function to asymmetrical bullous disease. The research further showed that these pathological shifts arise at a younger age relative to cigarette smoking up to 2 years ago (Hii et al, 2008).

References
  • Bedi, G., Cooper, Z. D., & Haney, M. (2013). Subjective, cognitive and cardiovascular dose-effect profile of nabilone and dronabinol in marijuana smokers. Addiction Biology, 18(5), 872-881
  • ElSohly, M. A. (2007). Marijuana and the Cannabinoids. Totowa, N.J.: Humana Press
  • Forrester, M., Kleinschmidt, K., Schwarz, E., & Young, A. (2012). Synthetic cannabinoid and marijuana exposures reported to poison centers. Human & Experimental Toxicology, 31(10), 1006-1011
  • Gilbert, C. R., Baram, M., & Cavarocchi, N. C. (2013). Smoking Wet. Texas Heart Institute Journal, 40(1), 64-67.
  • Hii, S. W., Tam, J. C., Thompson, B. R., & Naughton, M. T. (2008). Bullous lung disease due to marijuana. Respirology, 13(1), 122-127
  • Milroy, C. M., & Parai, J. L. (2011). The histopathology of drugs of abuse. Histopathology, 59(4), 579-593.
  • Onaivi, E. S. (2006). Marijuana and cannabinoid research: methods and protocols. New Jersey: Humana Press.
  • Phan, T. D., Lau, K. P., & Li, X. (2005). Lung bullae and pulmonary fibrosis associated with marijuana smoking. Australasian Radiology, 49(5), 411-414.
  • Rosenow, E. C., & Camus, P. (2008). Drug-induced and Iatrogenic Respiratory Disease. London: Hodder Arnold
  • Sarafian, T. A., Habib, N., Oldham, M., Seeram, N., Lee, R., Lin, L., & … Roth, M. D. (2006). Inhaled marijuana smoke disrupts mitochondrial energetics in pulmonary epithelial cells in vivo. American Journal Of Physiology. Lung Cellular And Molecular Physiology, 290(6), L1202-L1209.
  • Thu, K., Hayes, M., Miles, S., Tierney, L., & Foy, A. (2013). Marijuana ‘bong’ smoking and tuberculosis. Internal Medicine Journal, 43(4), 456-458
  • Winger, G., Woods, J. H., & Hofmann, F. G. (2004). A handbook on drug and alcohol abuse: the biomedical aspects. New York: Oxford University Press.

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