Skip The Inhaler, Get All-Natural Relief For Asthma!

One hundred years ago, products such as Dr. Schiffmann’s Asthmador was the go-to for relief for asthma. Is it possible that cannabis may be the next generation asthma medication?

In the 18th century, Scottish physician and botanist, James Anderson, traveled to India  and became surgeon of the East India Trading Company and in 1781 was made surgeon-general of Madras Provence (British India). This Provence covered most of  southern India, including the state of Tamil Nadu, where he likely discovered the ancient  science of Ayurveda.

Ayurveda translates to science of life and is a practice of natural medicinal methods, originating there more than 3,000 years ago. He likely was shown  various medicinal uses of local herbs and plants; valuable insight which was not offered  at the University of Edinburgh. It is said that one practice he made note of was the  inhalation of smoke to treat those suffering from bronchial disorders. Likely after  observing the successful use of this treatment, he shared the information to those in the  West and the rest is history.

Around the mid-19th century, pharmacists began marketing mixed herbs to be ignited and inhaled by asthma sufferers to open their bronchial passageways. They found relief  from inhaling the smoke by way of fumigation, pipes, cigarettes, cigars and powdered  ozone papers. By the 1870’s asthma cigarettes had become a popular form of relief. Ingredients in the blends varied, but they included such plants as jimson weed,  belladonna, henbane and sometimes lobelia (Indian tobacco) or even cannabis.

Many baby boomers today have childhood memories of a stinky weed their elders lit up  to alleviate their asthma attacks and report that after their guardians had a dose, they  often became euphoric!

Debbie, who posted on The Smithsonian, National Museum of  American History website, was oblivious that the stinky stuff she smelled growing up  was likely cannabis! This led to an awkward experience, of which she wrote, “…having  been a frequent ‘user’ of Asthmador as an asthmatic child in the 1950’s, (d)uring my first  week as a freshman, I was walking down the hall of my dormitory with a friend when a  certain odor wafted from behind…I commented, ‘Hmmm…Asthmador!’ My friend looked  puzzled and responded, ‘That’s pot your smelling,” which left Debbie with the firm belief  that, “(i)f marijuana and Asthmador are not the same, they are certainly close cousins.”

The main difference between the nightshade herbs, which were used in these  formulations, and cannabis are the plant compounds. Belladonna and jimson weed both contain atropine, an alkaloid also identified in other toxic plants and associated drugs including caffeine, nicotine, and cocaine.

In the science and practice of Ayurveda, jimson weed is one of many medicinal plants seemingly having its roots in folklore, but in fact the seeds, leaves and roots have been used in Ayurveda for centuries in places  such as Tamil Nadu, India, where, the entire plants were harvested and used as a bronchodilator and a sedative. If not implemented or dosed properly, it can produce  toxic side effects including vision problems, increased heart rate, seizures, loss of  consciousness and even death.

Belladonna can also be deadly, but has been used in  herbal medicine for centuries to treat spasms, relax muscles, treat respiratory health and histaminic reactions. On the other hand, the cannabinoids and terpenes found in cannabis are non-poisonous, but produce similar effects when it comes to asthma relief.  The nightshades can indeed be deadly, but there has never been a death caused by the  medicinal use of cannabis. In 1971, President Nixon began the war on drugs and the  cigarettes began to lose popularity. By 1980, they were no longer available.

Alex, a participant of User Reviews for Cannabis on the site, claims that,  “(a)s a chronic asthmatic, … nothing has come close to marijuana in alleviating (his) breathing problems.” He goes on to explain that, when first diagnosed, he was, “put on  different inhaled steroids…(which) caused severe side effects,” such as, “extreme  weakness, low blood pressure (and) palpitations, even at the lowest doses.” After  researching, he, “found…that cannabis was the cornerstone of asthma treatment in the  nineteenth century,” so he, “tried it out through a vaporizer,” and it worked, “even better  than Albuterol in opening (his) airways and stopping attacks.” He concluded that, “(i)t  really is amazing.”

Many ancient herbal remedies, have been modernized and turned into synthetic  pharmaceutical forms, but today cannabis in its natural form is still effective when  treating bronchial disorders such as asthma, emphysema, and bronchitis. In 2016 a  U.S. company specializing in the development of cannabis-based medicines,  announced the release of an inhalation medication for those suffering asthma/COPD for  use in patient nebulizers.

Various methods and doses of cannabis can be utilized and a  doctor’s recommendation is a good place to start. I think it’s safe to say that cannabis is making a come back for good reason and could certainly be a first line treatment for  generations to come!

M.A. Merriman for

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