InMed Researching Use of Cannabinoids for COPD
Dear Dr. Mahler:
I have been reading a lot about the use of marijuana as a treatment for COPD. What is the science behind cannabinoids as a possible therapy? I was diagnosed with COPD about five years ago. My pulmonary doctor has told me that my condition is “severe.” She has recently changed my inhaler to Stiolto which has helped my breathing, but I still cannot do all the things that I want. I completed pulmonary rehabilitation 2 years ago, and go 2-3 times a week for maintenance. I live in Colorado and can use marijuana products legally. Thanks.
Gay from Fort Collins, CO
Here is a brief description of the science of marijuana. Hopefully, it is easy to understand.
Cannabinoids are chemical compounds that are the active parts of marijuana. They alter release of neurotransmitters in the brain. Neurotransmitters relay signals between nerve cells (see diagram below). Psychoactive drugs like marijuana exert their effects by altering the actions of some neurotransmitter systems. The primary psychoactive compound in marijuana is tetrahydrocannabinol (abbreviated THC).
There are two known cannabinoid receptors called CB1 and CB2. CB1 is found mainly in the brain (in the limbic system where pleasure and pain are experienced). CB2 receptors are found in the immune system with high numbers in the spleen (an organ in the abdomen). CB2 receptors are responsible for the anti-inflammatory and possibly other therapeutic effects seen in animals.