Cystic Fibrosis (CF) is a life-threatening disorder that damages the lungs and other organs of the body. It affects the cells that produce mucus and other secretions, effectively blocking the tubes and other passageways in the body. As a result, patients with cystic fibrosis experience pain and several other uncomfortable symptoms. Since this condition has no cure, patients are constantly searching for effective ways to manage it. That leads us to wonder: what about medical marijuana and cystic fibrosis?

If you have been diagnosed with cystic fibrosis and are interested in seeing if medical marijuana has any potential benefit for managing your symptoms, this is for you. We're exploring the ins and outs of the complication, the benefits MMJ may have, and even how to get a medical card for yourself.

medical marijuana and cystic fribrosis

What is Cystic Fibrosis and What Causes It?

Cystic fibrosis is an inherited disease that affects the lungs, digestive system, sweat glands, and other body systems. CF is caused by a gene defect and affects how your body produces secretions such as mucus, sweat, and digestive juices. 

Typically, the secretion should be thin and slippery, but it becomes thick and sticky if you have cystic fibrosis, which blocks the tubes and ducts around your body. Over time, the thick mucus which has built up in your airways may make breathing difficult. The mucus could also trap germs and cause infections. It can also lead to severe damages to your lungs. Your digestive system is also not spared as the condition also affects your digestive juices.

A mutation in the gene known as CFTR (cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator) causes cystic fibrosis. This gene controls the flow of salt and fluids in and out of your cells, and where the gene is not functioning well, it leads to a buildup of sticky mucus and other secretions. 

If you have cystic fibrosis, it can only mean that you must have inherited the mutated copy of the CFTR gene from both your parents. If all you inherited was one copy of the gene, you would not have the symptoms of this disease. However, you will be a carrier which means you have a chance of passing it to your children. 

How Common is Cystic Fibrosis?

More than 30,000 people in the US live with cystic fibrosis, and doctors diagnose approximately 1,000 new cases yearly. More so, about 10 million Americans are carriers of CF, and any time two CF carriers have a baby, the chance of having a baby with CF is 25%. In fact, it occurs in 1 out of every 3,200 births in Caucasians in the United States. Cystic fibrosis is less common in African Americans, occurring in 1 out of 17,000 African Americans and just 1 out of 31,000 Asian Americans. It occurs equally in both men and women.

Can Medical Marijuana Help with Cystic Fibrosis?

Research on the relationship between cystic fibrosis and marijuana is still limited. However, we can't deny the promising effects of medical marijuana for the treatment of cystic fibrosis.  While medical marijuana cannot cure cystic fibrosis, it can provide substantial relief for some of the symptoms of this condition, such as inflammation in the lungs, frequent diarrhea, nausea, loss of appetite, and weight loss, among others.

Which Symptoms Can Marijuana Treat?

The symptoms of cystic fibrosis vary from person to person and depend on how severe the condition is. In addition, the age at which these symptoms begin to exhibit may also differ. Thus, it appears at infancy for some, while the symptoms may not show up till later in life for others.  While the symptoms for some people get better as they get older, the reverse is the case for others. 

Like the conventional treatments for cystic fibrosis, such as chest physical therapy and pulmonary rehabilitation, which aim to reduce the symptoms of cystic fibrosis, marijuana also targets these symptoms.

Marijuana contains cannabinoids that have different effects on the body, which may help with some of the symptoms of cystic fibrosis. The most common symptoms that marijuana can alleviate include:

  • lung inflammation
  • loss of appetite
  • chest pain
  • abdominal pain
  • weight loss
  • nausea

Marijuana has a pain-relieving effect that can reduce the discomfort from abdominal pain or chest pain, which are some of the common symptoms of cystic fibrosis. In addition, it helps you eat more, increasing your chances of acquiring more nutrients needed for weight gain. Inflammation of the lungs is another effect of CF, and cannabinoids present in marijuana have anti-inflammatory effects. In addition, your lungs have cannabinoid receptors, and so there is a possibility that marijuana can act on these receptors to reduce inflammation in your lungs. 

Best Strains for Cystic Fibrosis

There are so many strains of marijuana, and the strain that could be effective for treating one condition, may not be the best option for another. Hence, it is always advisable to speak with a licensed marijuana doctor to get the best recommendations based on your condition and symptoms. However, from experience and research, we've come up with quite a promising list of the best strains for cystic fibrosis.

Blueberry (Or Berry Blue)

Blueberry gives you that relaxing effect and produces a long-lasting sense of euphoria. This strain also helps you contend with pains, such as abdominal pain and chest pain which are some of the symptoms of cystic fibrosis. Blueberry is an indica-dominant hybrid that contains a high quantity of THC ranging from 15% to 24%. 

Blue Blood

Blue Blood is a hybrid between Blueberry and OG Kush. With a THC content of up to 20%, users of this strain commend it for its ability to give them this gradual feeling of euphoria. Blue blood also proves beneficial for pain relief, and that earns it a spot on this list.  If your primary symptom revolves around digestive problems such as constipation and loss of appetite, this strain may be what you need.

Black Widow

Black Widow is one of the most potent cannabis strains. With a THC level higher than 24%, the Black Widow has a combination of indica and sativa genetics.  It helps with symptoms such as physical pain, muscle spasms, among others. It has also shown promise for its ability to induce hunger, and loss of appetite is one symptom of cystic fibrosis which it can counter. However, if you are new to cannabis, you may want to start with other strains that are not as strong as Black Widow.

Silver Haze

Silver Haze is a combination of Haze and Northern Lights which is a non-dominant indica variety. It has a high THC content varying between 20 to 24% and is a recommended strain if your most common symptom is loss of appetite, as it has a way to trigger your hunger hormones.

Other strains that could be helpful for the treatment of cystic fibrosis include Tangerine, Hypno, Mountainberry, Early Pearl, and Hollands Hope.

It is important to note that some of these strains have high THC and are therefore not recommended for children with cystic because of the “high” it causes. For children with cystic fibrosis, it is better to give them strains with higher CBD content — and not in smokeable form. For kiddos, we highly recommend CBD tinctures.

Medical Marijuana and Cystic Fibrosis; tinctures

Side Effects of Marijuana for Cystic Fibrosis

Marijuana could be a cost-effective treatment for your treatment of cystic fibrosis. However, as beneficial as it is, you need to be aware of some side effects.

Lung irritation

If you are using marijuana to treat cystic fibrosis, it is highly recommended that you don't inhale it. While many people prefer smoking because it gives instant results, it isn't an ideal option for patients living with cystic fibrosis because it can irritate your lungs. Cystic fibrosis itself causes lung issues, and you should not be complicating it further by inhaling smoke. Thus, it would help if you adopted other means of using marijuana, such as edibles, topicals, and tinctures.

Psychoactive effect

The best strains of marijuana for treating cystic fibrosis seem to be those that contain a high level of THC. However, THC is psychoactive, which means it can cause intoxication. Using most of these strains gets you high and leaves you with the feeling of euphoria.

Drowsiness

Some strains of medical marijuana would leave you feeling drowsy, and if you go for these strains, you should use them at night, so it does not affect your daily routine.

Does Research Suggest Marijuana is an Effective Treatment?

Currently, limited research exists on the relationship between marijuana and cystic fibrosis and whether it is an effective treatment option. However, there is one instructive research by Ester Fride. In her paper titled “Cannabinoids and Cystic Fibrosis: A Novel Approach to Etiology and Therapy,” she delved into the various possibilities of medical marijuana as a treatment for cystic fibrosis. She suggested that medical marijuana could assist in bronchodilation and also has anti-inflammatory effects. More so, several other studies have confirmed the effectiveness of using marijuana to treat other conditions that have similar symptoms to cystic fibrosis.  

Is Cystic Fibrosis a Qualifying Condition for Medical Marijuana?

Your ability to legally access medical marijuana to treat cystic fibrosis largely depends on:

  • whether medical marijuana is legal in your state and
  • if cystic fibrosis falls under the list of the qualifying conditions for medical marijuana under your state's relevant medical marijuana laws.

Currently, Connecticut is the only state that expressly has cystic fibrosis as a qualifying condition. However, most other states have chronic pain or illness, nausea, and some other symptoms of cystic fibrosis as qualifying conditions. In addition, medical practitioners in most states have the discretion to prescribe medical marijuana to patients if they believe that it would help relieve the symptoms of their condition. The symptoms of cystic fibrosis, as we saw earlier, can be alleviated by medical marijuana.

How to Get a Medical Card for Cystic Fibrosis

The first thing you need to do to get your medical card is to receive a certification from a licensed medical marijuana doctor. Without this, you cannot proceed to get a medical marijuana card for treating cystic fibrosis. But, don't panic! Here at Elevate Holistics, we have a team of well-trained and experienced marijuana doctors who are always ready to help you legally access medical marijuana in the easiest way you can ever imagine. Oh, did we mention everything is online? Our telemedicine platform thrives on you being in the comfort of your home while we take care of the cardholding process for you.

In just a few simple steps, you're able to get the medical card recommendation you need to get your MMJ card. Whether you're getting the card to enjoy medical marijuana for cystic fibrosis or another medical condition is wholly up to you. We're just here to help you do it. Find your state and book an appointment with Elevate Holistics below.

Patient Resources:

Curious about getting your medical marijuana card? Read our how-to guides in your state.

We talk about all things cannabis, MMJ, and in-between. Just head over to our blog posts.

Elevate Holisitcs is expanding! Check out Florida's MMJ card rules before we start servicing the Sunshine State.