May is National Cystic Fibrosis Awareness Month. We hear a lot about using CBD for anxiety, PTSD, stress, inflammation, epilepsy, and autism. While CBD is not a miracle cure-all, its role in the body’s endocannabinoid system can lead to healthy outcomes throughout the body. CBD’s effectiveness is giving hope to the over 30,000 U.S. families living with Cystic Fibrosis.
What is Cystic Fibrosis?
Cystic Fibrosis (CF) is a progressive, genetic condition that causes persistent lung infections and impacts the ability to breathe. People with CF have a mutation in their cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) which affects the ability of the CFTR protein to work correctly to move chloride to the cell surface. The result is mucus becomes thick and sticky around the lungs and pancreas.
There is no cure for CF, but advancements in research and treatment have doubled the life expectancy for people with this condition over the last 30 years. Most people are diagnosed by the age of 2. In the 1950s, children with CF often did not live until school age. Now, people with CF are graduating from college and starting families of their own.
Cystic fibrosis has a range of symptoms, which vary depending on the severity of the condition, age, and other health factors. Most people with CF have an impaired immune system and are more susceptible to infections. The most common symptoms are:
- Persistent coughing
- Increased phlegm
- Frequent lung infections
- Shortness of breath or wheezing
- Difficulty gaining weight or increased weight gain
- Digestive issues
- Male infertility
- Significantly shorter life expectancy
Could CBD Help Treat CF?
Treatments typically include therapies to clear the lungs, inhaled medications, antibiotics for infections, and enzyme replenishment to maintain healthy nutrient levels. If you are familiar with CBD’s more well-known benefits such as anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and neuroprotectant, you might look at the symptom list and wonder how CBD can help people with CF. Let’s look at how CBD works with the human endocannabinoid system (ECS) to manage our functions, including digestion, the immune response, and the nervous system.
The ECS is composed of our own internal cannabinoids and receptors. Two of the primary receptors in the ECS are CB1 receptors, mainly found in the brain and nervous system, and CB2 receptors, primarily found in the immune system and other organs of the body. When stimulated, this system supports balance, stability, and overall homeostasis in the body. This is why CBD has benefits for people with conditions that impact the immune, nervous, digestive, and muscular-skeletal systems.
CF and CBD
According to Cystic Fibrosis News Today, many people with CF suffer from regular nausea and digestive discomfort. It can be hard for CF patients to eat enough calories and nutrients to maintain a healthy weight. Cannabinoids, such as CBD, have been shown to help improve appetites and reduce nausea in a study published on the National Cancer Center website. This could be good news for people with CF and deliver the relief they need. CF patient Brad Dell gave anecdotal evidence to Cystic Fibrosis News Today about how his appetite improved and his airways opened up after using CBD gummies.
People with CF often suffer from inflammation and infection. CBD has been shown to reduce inflammation and act a neuroprotectant without the side effects of other medications. CBD can also help with pain and inflammation, common ailments for people with CF.
Many people living with chronic illnesses deal with the mental impact of their disease. For people with CF, the fear of infections, regular hospitalizations, and living knowing your life expectancy is shorter can lead to anxiety and depression. CBD has been shown to help with mental health issues. A 2016 study published in Neuropsychobiology looked at genetic animal models of depression and found that CBD may be beneficial for the treatment of clinical depression. A 2018 study published in Behavioral Brain Research, found CBD has potential as antidepressant medication.
The Lung Institute notes that the anti-inflammatory properties of marijuana could be beneficial for CF, but cautions that smoking, especially unfiltered “joints” can exacerbate lung conditions. This makes CBD a better option as it can be taken by tincture, edible, or topical. People living with CF know the importance of talking with their health providers before adding any supplements to their regime.