Let’s face it: if you want to have healthy lungs, don’t smoke. However, when it comes to marijuana’s effect on lung health, a simple fact is combined with a majorly complicated “but.”
Lung cancer can be caused by excessive inhalation of smoke into your lungs. Smoke from a campfire or tobacco, even ashen plant particles getting into your lung cavity is risky. Although, this fact holds no standing when it comes to cannabis smokers. Is this an anomaly?
Well, it sort of is. There have been recent studies that prove regular cannabis users are just as likely to get lung cancer as your average person. Isn’t that weird, right? How is this even coming close to possible? We have the facts about the effects of smoking cannabis, and what you can do to ensure that your lungs stay healthy.
The Bizarre Truth About Cannabis Smoke
Earlier this year, it was researchers from Atlanta’s Emory University that analyzed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. In their study, they concluded that those who smoked one joint a day for 20 years, didn’t show any extensive signs of lung damage or cancer tissue.
There were breathing tests that were used to measure airflow during exhalation to receive results. This test is called “Spirometry” in the world of medicine. There were even studies conducted in 2006 and 2014, that had concluded that smoking marijuana DID leave being tar residue in our lungs. Although, the risk of lung cancer remains very low despite that fact.
Bad New For Heavy Smokers:
There are still health risks associated with marijuana smoke. Here’s what you need to worry about:
Issues with Exhalation- Heavy smokers that smoked one joint a day for over 20 years, had lost some capacity to exhale fully.
Inflammation- Long-term cannabis smokers will have more inflammation in their small air pathways in the lungs. This can agitate and cause asthma-like symptoms later on.
The risks above can be highly reduced when using a vaporizer instead of smoking up the herb in a rolling paper. It’s easy to forget that you taking in hot plant particles into your lungs.
Vaporizers are found to use just the right amount of heat to activate the cannabinoids in the wax or flower. They also help in preventing the itchy, inflamed burn in your throat, that you get after smoking hot weed.
The rolling papers you choose to smoke with can be a contributing factor to lung and throat irritation. The rolling papers could have chemical additives and processed with bleach, which will highly damage your lungs. Using a vaporizer will help you prevent these health risks.
But… Why Don’t Weed Smokers Get Lung Cancer?
Researchers, scientists, and doctors are still confused on why smoke from cannabis isn’t linked directly to cancer. It has been noted for a while now, that smoke from marijuana has some of the cancer-causing toxins that are found in tobacco. THC (the primary psychoactive component in marijuana) is the reason why there is no presence of tumors in marijuana smokers. The Complutense University of Madrid, in Spain, conducted some research that proved that THC can make tumor cells destroy themselves in animals.
There has been no studies to prove the power of THC as a true tumor-terminator in humans. Fortunately, hope is seen in the testing of animals. In animals, THC both prevented and slowed down the progression and growth of cancerous tumors. In Germany, another study was conducted to examine the effects of cannabidiol (CBD) on cancer cells in the lungs. There was exciting results that proved CBD can prevent cancer from moving to different areas of the body, and prevents cancer cells from infecting other healthy body cells.
Authors even went far to as stating that clinical trials for the treatment of lung cancer, should be done with CBD. It is these findings that point to why smoke from cannabis doesn’t cause lung cancer. Is it possible for a substance to cause cancer, but at the same time, prevent it? Only in due time and persistent research will reveal it all.
Different Smokes for Different Folks
Everyone has a different preference when it comes to smoking marijuana. It could be pipes, water bongs, joints, and blunts that have been crowd-pleasing. Now that there are concentrates in the mix. there’s more for you to know about if you want to be conscious about how you inhale cannabis smoke. To protect your lungs, you need to know the pros and cons between various different methods of smoking.
The healthiest way to smoke cannabis is by vaporizer. A vaporizer won’t allow direct flame onto the herb, so you’ll be able to inhale cannabis smoke without inhaling hot plant particles.
Joints & Pipes
A shocking fact you will need to know, is that when you light up your lighter, it can reach to hot temperature of 3,590.6 degrees Fahrenheit (1,977 Celsius). Smoking a pre-roll, joint, or pipe means you are consuming too much heat to your marijuana. You will literally inhale the hot, and ashes particles in less than one second after lighting of the herb.
The unfiltered, hot smoke is what will allow tar build-up and irritation. If you want to stay safe, try using a screen for your pipe or rolling up with all-natural rolling papers.
Water Pipes & Bongs
Bubblers, water pipes, and bongs all utilize cold water to cool down the herb, so that the ash and burnt plant particles are caught by the cool water, and aren’t going into your lungs to become tar.
However, ice and water won’t catch all the plant resin that is present in smoke. Look for bigger water bubbler etc. that put distance between you and the flame. Always add in ice if you want to keep it safe for your lungs.
Butane Hash Oil (BHO) is becoming increasingly popular. For optimal lung health, there are some things to note about dabbing:
Use Ice: Utilizing a torch heats up the smoke than any other method. Try to cool it down with crushed ice or a water-based system.
Solvents Matter: Mostly, butane burns up and evaporates so quickly once the torch touches the wax. Too much of gas, can irritate mucous membranes and cause headaches as you inhale. If you should find that BHO is uncomfortable, CO2 extractions will be much easier on the lungs.
Here’s the final tip that will help keep your lungs healthy while inhaling weed smoke. When possible, say no to schwag. “Schwag” meaning flower or wax that doesn’t look or taste quite normal. It’s low-quality and here’s why:
The Bad News:
Unfortunately, there is no standards for quality control for marijuana. Without all this testing data. there won’t be a way to examine if what you are inhaling, is free of harsh contaminants. These contaminants can include fertilizer, miticide, fungus, leftover pesticide, or something that was able to hitch a ride on what you just bought and picked up. In comparison to inhaling too much butane solvent, breathing substances you know nothing of has dire consequences. Smoking these contaminants can induce lung and throat irritation, allergic reactions, and coughing.
The Good News:
Many states that legalized growing of marijuana, have made mandatory demands to have marijuana tested and tracked for quality purposes. More growers and owners of dispensaries are testing their products. It helps ensure that plants are safe for consumption. This data can even be found online, if you’re lucky to live with legal medical or recreational cannabis. All you have to do is ask your local dispensary for testing data performed locally.
Cleaning Your Lungs After Smoking
There is a way to cleanse your lungs. A little bit of exercise can lower the effects of marijuana smoke in your lungs. The best exercise for your lungs is deep-breathing.
Why Breath Matters
When we are breathing, we are receiving oxygen that is imperative to maintain homeostasis in our bodies. There are primarily 2 types of breathing: shallow breathing and deep breathing. When we inhale air, we take it in from our tops of the lungs, or we inhale deeply and fully through the organs.
The more we fully inhale, the more fresh oxygen can travel through our lung tissue. The more shallow the breath, the more stale air, more toxins, allergens, and pollutants stay trapped. When having too much amount of trapped air, and extra gunk inside our lungs, it directly impacts your health over time by making you feel fatigued, and even a loss of tissue function.
Lungs benefit from movement and exercise every single day. When we are sitting idle and resting, our lungs will only operate at half its full capacity.“Your lungs need at the very least 20 minutes of consistent, moderately intense movement daily, like a brisk walk,” explains Jennifer Ryan, PT. Jennifer is a specialist in cardiovascular and pulmonary physical therapy at Rush University Medical Center.
“To help counteract the build-up of toxins and tar in the lungs caused by environmental pollutants,” Ryan continues, “allergens, dust, and cigarette some, you need to help your lungs cleanse themselves.”
Do you care about your lungs?
You should set aside some down time to do some simple breathing exercises after your next bowl. These exercises will help your lungs receive more fresh oxygen and the exercise it consistently needs to be healthy. To help you start, here are a few of our favorite.
4 Breathing Exercises to Clear Out the Smoke
These simple exercises will help keep your airways clean and eliminate toxins. It will even have an anti-stress benefit. In each exercise, posture is everything. Hunching your shoulders or slouching will prevent you from breathing deep. If you are sitting down, put your feet flat on the floor. Be aware to keep your back in straight posture with your chest open.
If you want to lay down, lay completely flat on your backside, arms relaxed by your sides. Keep the palms of your hands open.
This technique is popular amongst anxiety, and insomnia sufferers. It will clear your lungs, making you feel relaxed and calm. Inhale for 4 seconds, hold for 7, and exhale for 8.
Deep Belly Breath Breathing
Focus on your breath, and make long, slow breaths for five seconds or as long as you feel comfortable. Imagine yourself inhaling air deep into your stomach. Focus on raising your chest and navel as you breathe in.
The Cleansing Breath Pranayama
Doing this breathing exercise comes from the abdominal muscles. You will need to stand up with your feet hip to width apart.
This breathing exercise should not be completed laying down. Breathe out using short contractions of your ab muscles for increased power. Be aware to always have your mouth relaxed open when doing this exercise.
Think of yourself expanding your diaphragm as you breathe in deeply and slowly. The diaphragm is lung muscle that is at the base of your lungs. Singers are known to exercise this muscle consistently to increase their lung capacity.
Lung Cleansing Herbs for Your Vape
Marijuana is a favorite herb and is found to have powerful and beneficial medicinal properties. In many cultures around the world, medicinal herbs were used to treat and alleviate symptoms of respiratory illnesses for many centuries.
From as early as the fifth century B.C., common plants such as celery were used for medicine. Celery, a limp vegetable, is antispasmodic. In ancient China and England, celery was utilized to aid in respiratory illness treatment like bronchitis and asthma.
Even other medicinal plants can:
- Break up mucus and expel congestion.
- Calm inflammatory and allergic reactions.
- Reduce cell damage and redness as antioxidants.
- Ease coughing symptoms.
- Kill harmful organisms and bacteria.
After smoking marijuana, it helps to refresh your lungs by adding some dried herbs listed below in your vaporizer. They can also be brewed into a nice warm tea.
Some Easy-to-Find Cleansing Herbs Include:
- Orange Peel
- Ginger Root
Also Look For:
Don’t Have A Vape? Check these herb-rich recipes:
Bhang ki Masala Chai
Marijuana Weed Tea
Magical Thai Vegan Soup
With most research involving marijuana, we’re left with more detailed facts and firm conclusions. It’s very safe to state that long-term users of cannabis does come with health concerns. But an increased risk of having lung cancer, one of the most predominant arguments in the anti-marijuana side of the debate against marijuana legalization.? No. The evidence isn’t available to us all yet.