How Medical Marijuana Could Bring Joy To Cystic Fibrosis Patients

By   |  Medical content reviewed by Dr. Shatha Atiya  |  December 19, 2023  | ConditionsHealth & Relief

There is currently no cure for cystic fibrosis, but there are treatments available that can help to improve quality of life and extend life expectancy. One potential treatment for cystic fibrosis gaining traction is medical marijuana. 

Cannabinoids, the active ingredients in marijuana, have demonstrated potency when relieving various cystic fibrosis symptoms. For instance, reducing inflammation in the airways, improving lung function, and controlling pain. In addition, cannabinoids can help to improve appetite and weight gain in patients with cystic fibrosis. While more research is needed, medical marijuana may offer hope for patients with this disease.

man feeling happy

What exactly is cystic fibrosis (CF)?

Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a hereditary disease that affects the lungs and digestive system. The main symptom of cystic fibrosis is persistent lung infections. These infections cause thick, sticky mucus to build up in the lungs making it difficult to breathe. 

Also, cystic fibrosis causes problems with digestion because the mucus can block the pancreas and prevent enzymes from breaking down food properly. In severe cases, cystic fibrosis can be life-threatening. Unfortunately, there is no cure for cystic fibrosis, but treatment can help manage the symptoms and improve quality of life.

Cystic fibrosis is a common condition. According to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Registry, more than 30,000 people in the United States live with cystic fibrosis, and approximately 1,000 new cases of CF are diagnosed annually.

Testing for cystic fibrosis

The cystic fibrosis sweat test is the most common and accurate way to diagnose cystic fibrosis. During the test, a doctor places a small amount of salty solution on your skin, and an electrical device is used to stimulate sweating. Afterward, the level of salt in your sweat is then measured. The cystic fibrosis sweat test is considered very accurate, and it is usually able to give a diagnosis within 30 minutes. Often, the doctor does the test twice to confirm the diagnosis. But if the results of the two tests are different, then a third may be necessary. 

Alternatively, a cystic fibrosis quiz can also help guide you if you are unsure whether you should pursue testing for cystic fibrosis. This cystic fibrosis quiz will ask you about your family history, symptoms, and overall health. But it is important to remember that this cystic fibrosis quiz is not a diagnostic tool, but it can help.

Treatments for cystic fibrosis

There are a variety of treatments available for cystic fibrosis. One common form of therapy is using a cystic fibrosis vest, which helps loosen and remove mucus from the lungs. Another frequent treatment is cystic fibrosis postural drainage, which involves lying in a certain position so that gravity can help drain mucus from the lungs. Cystic fibrosis specialists may also prescribe medications to help manage the symptoms, and in severe cases, a lung transplant may be necessary. 

Additionally, researchers are exploring new treatments, such as gene therapy and stem cell therapy, which hold promise for people with cystic fibrosis. Clinical trials are currently underway to test the safety and efficacy of these treatments.

What is the science behind medical marijuana’s effectiveness for cystic fibrosis?

The therapeutic effects of the cannabinoids present in marijuana are well-documented. As to cystic fibrosis, cannabis use demonstrates effectiveness in quelling even the most severe symptoms. However, it is worth noting that cannabis may not eliminate cystic fibrosis symptoms, but it can help lessen the severity.

Some of the cystic fibrosis symptoms of medical marijuana may help alleviate include:

  • Appetite and weight loss: The toll cystic fibrosis takes on the digestive system may lead to nutritional deficiencies and poor weight gain. And as the disease progresses, many patients experience a loss in appetite, which increases the risk of malnutrition. Medical marijuana helps by inducing hunger through the munchies. As a result, patients can have regular eating patterns necessary for their strength and nutrition.
  • Chronic pain: Constant pain is a thorn in the flesh for all patients living with cystic fibrosis. Fortunately, marijuana is a potent yet friendly pain reliever that lifts some of the burdens of continuous agony. Find out more about medical marijuana helps with pain.
  • Inflammation in the lungs: Inflammation is the leading driver of cystic fibrosis symptoms that snowballs into more problems. Therefore, easing this inflammation is necessary to improve the individual’s quality of life. The cannabinoid CBD excels as an anti-inflammatory and comes in handy when alleviating this symptom.
  • Diarrhea: Because of the digestive issues brought about by CF, chronic diarrhea is a frequent concern among patients. CBD may reduce the irritation in the gastrointestinal tract to help alleviate diarrhea in CF patients, as seen in patients diagnosed with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD).

Research on the association between marijuana and cystic fibrosis

Medical research is always looking for new ways to treat existing conditions and diseases. One area of recent research has been the possible association between cannabis and cystic fibrosis (CF).

In recent years, several small cystic fibrosis case studies have looked at the potential benefits of cannabis for CF patients. One study found that inhaled cannabis helped ease respiratory symptoms in a group of CF patients. Another found that cannabis-based medication was associated with improvements in quality of life, lung function, and weight gain in CF patients. However, we should keep in mind that these studies were small, and further research is needed to confirm the findings.

Despite the lack of definitive evidence, many CF patients say that cannabis has helped them cope with the disease. For some, it has helped to ease respiratory symptoms and improve their appetite. Others have found that it helps them reduce stress and anxiety and deal with insomnia. If you are leaning toward trying cannabis for CF, it is vital to discuss it with a doctor first.

Can medical marijuana cure cystic fibrosis?

There is no cure for cystic fibrosis, and treatments focus on managing symptoms and preventing complications. For this reason, some people with cystic fibrosis have turned to medical marijuana in hopes that it will relieve their symptoms. And while marijuana may help to alleviate some of the symptoms of cystic fibrosis, it is not a cure for the disease.

One survey conducted by Michael J. Stephen et al. sought to clarify the rates and reasons patients with cystic fibrosis use medical marijuana.

So, what does the research survey suggest?

The researchers sent out an anonymous survey labeled, An Anonymous Survey of Alternative and Complementary Therapies in Cystic Fibrosis, to patients aged 16 and older in six CF centers in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Please note that during the survey (March 2017 through February 2019), medical marijuana laws for patients with CF in either state were non-existent.

Questions concerning marijuana were one part of the 41-question-overall assessment of the use of alternative medicines. So, what was the outcome of the survey?

What do the results say?

Out of the 637 surveys sent out, there was feedback from 193 patients marking a 30.3% response rate. However, three subjects declined to consent to the study, and one respondent left the survey blank, leaving 189 surveys for analysis.

Out of the 189 surveys,

  • 31 subjects (16.5%) reported using cannabis for medical purposes.
  • 29 subjects (15.4%) reported utilizing it in the past 12 months. 

The survey revealed different consumption methods for each subject, as highlighted below.

Table showing how cystic fibrosis patients consume medical marijuana

Besides utilizing different forms of marijuana, the respondents also shared divergent views on the symptoms they sought to alleviate through cannabis use. 

Reasons why cystic fibrosis patients consume marijuana

The 31 subjects who confirmed using cannabis for medicinal purposes also shared the following:

  • 28 (90.3%) found medical cannabis highly effective in managing their symptoms.
  • 21 believed that medical cannabis was either beneficial or very beneficial to their health.
  • Six stated that it was somewhat important.
  • Four didn’t count its importance.
  • Two subjects reported side effects, one citing drowsiness, and the other reporting fatigue, dizziness, and cold hands and feet.

The survey also quizzed respondents on whether they would consider medical cannabis if it was available, and out of the 156 responses to this question, 72 (46%) responded with a yes.

Additionally, the survey asked the respondents why they would consider medical marijuana. Out of 44 respondents that indicated that they had never used marijuana:

  • Ten reported that they’d do so to deal with anxiety.
  • Nine for musculoskeletal pain.
  • Six for appetite stimulation.
  • Four to enhance breathing.
  • Three would use it as a sleep aid.
  • One for coughing.
  • One for Parkinson’s tremors.
  • One for bipolar disorder.
  • One to expand consciousness.

Popular marijuana strains for cystic fibrosis

While THC is responsible for the ‘high’ users experience after using marijuana, it may also help ease pain, inflammation, and other symptoms associated with cystic fibrosis. In contrast, CBD, the non-psychoactive compound, reduces inflammation and anxiety. Still, THC-dominant strains are typically more effective for treating symptoms than CBD-dominant strains. However, some people prefer CBD-rich strains for their milder effect.

Some popular strains among CF patients include:

  • Early Pearl
  • Hypno
  • Blueberry
  • Silver Haze
  • Mountainberry
  • Blackberry
  • Hollands Hope
  • Lollipop

Still, before proceeding with cannabis for cystic fibrosis, patients should consult with a professional medical marijuana doctor to understand the risks associated and how to get the most out of the treatment regimen.

Get your medical marijuana card for cystic fibrosis

Most importantly, a medical marijuana card is necessary before proceeding with a cannabis regimen for cystic fibrosis. With your card in hand, you can lawfully possess, use, and in some states, cultivate medical cannabis. Quick Med Cards makes getting a medical marijuana card easy in just a few simple steps.

Below are states where our expert marijuana doctors can certify CF patients for medicinal cannabis:

Facts about cystic fibrosis

Cystic fibrosis is a life-threatening disease, but with advances in treatment and care, people with cystic fibrosis are living longer and healthier lives. There are many myths about cystic fibrosis, so let’s dispel some of them and get answers to common questions about the disease.

Is cystic fibrosis dominant or recessive?

Cystic fibrosis (CF) is an autosomal recessive disorder caused by the presence of a mutated CFTR gene. To develop the disease, an individual must inherit two mutated copies of the CFTR gene – one from each parent. However, in some cases, a person can inherit just one mutated copy of the CFTR gene and still develop cystic fibrosis. This happens when the other copy of the CFTR gene is missing or non-functional.

What chromosome is affected in cystic fibrosis?

Cystic fibrosis is a disorder caused by a mutation in a gene on chromosome 7. The most common type of mutation that leads to cystic fibrosis is known as a deletion mutation, which results in the removal of a small piece of DNA from the gene. The deletion of this DNA causes the protein produced by the gene to be defective. The cystic fibrosis gene mutation is considered a lethal allele because it often leads to death at an early age. Although there is no cure for cystic fibrosis, treatment can help to improve the quality and length of life for individuals with this disorder.

Who is a cystic fibrosis carrier?

A cystic fibrosis carrier is someone with a copy of the defective gene that causes cystic fibrosis but does not have the disease themselves. There are no specific cystic fibrosis carrier symptoms, but some may experience mild respiratory problems. Still, they can pass the gene on to their children. Cystic fibrosis genetic testing is available to determine whether someone is a carrier.

The cystic fibrosis inheritance pattern is autosomal recessive, which means that both parents must carry the gene for their child to be affected. The Punnet square cystic fibrosis is a tool used by genetic counselors to predict the likelihood of a child inheriting the disease.

Is cystic fibrosis cancer?

Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a genetic disorder that affects the lungs and digestive system. The main symptom of CF is a buildup of thick, sticky mucus in the lungs, which can lead to respiratory infections and other serious health problems. CF is not cancer, but it can shorten life expectancy. There is currently no cure for CF, but treatments are available to help manage the symptoms, increase life expectancy, and improve quality of life.

Is cystic fibrosis contagious?

Cystic fibrosis is not contagious and cannot spread from person to person. However, it is possible to inherit the CFTR gene mutation from one’s parents. If you have a family member with CF, you may be at increased risk for the condition. You can talk to your doctor about testing if you are concerned that you may be at risk for CF.

Why can’t cystic fibrosis patients be together?

One of the most common symptoms of CF is persistent coughing, which can spread bacteria from one person to another. Often, because cystic fibrosis patients are infected with different strains of bacteria, they can easily pass infections back and forth to each other. In addition, CF patients tend to have weakened immune systems, making them more susceptible to infections. For these reasons, it’s imperative for CF patients to avoid close contact with each other. While it may be difficult for friends and family members to stay apart, it’s the best way to protect everyone’s health.

Can people with cystic fibrosis touch?

One common question that people with cystic fibrosis get is whether or not they can touch. There is no definitive answer to this question, as each person’s condition will dictate how their skin reacts to contact. However, it is best for people with cystic fibrosis to avoid prolonged contact with other people to avoid the risk of skin irritation or infection. If you have any questions or concerns about touching someone with CF, it is best to consult with a cystic fibrosis specialist.

Why can’t people with cystic fibrosis date each other?

One of the most difficult aspects of living with cystic fibrosis is the fact that people with the condition are not supposed to interact with each other. The reason for this is that CF is a highly contagious disease, and people with the condition are particularly susceptible to infections. Even something as simple as a cough or a sneeze can cause serious illness in someone with CF. For this reason, patients are often segregated in hospital settings. 

This policy also extends to dating; because cystic fibrosis patients are not supposed to interact, they are often discouraged from pursuing relationships with each other. While this may seem unfair, it is actually a necessary precaution to protect people with CF from potentially deadly infections. As the movie Five Feet Apart illustrates, even the best intentions can sometimes result in harm when two people with cystic fibrosis are involved.

Is cystic fibrosis more common in males or females?

Cystic fibrosis is more common in males than females. The disease is also sex-linked, meaning that it is passed down from parents to children through the X chromosome. Because males only have one X chromosome, they are more likely to inherit the disease if their parents are carriers. Females, on the other hand, have two X chromosomes, so they are less likely to develop cystic fibrosis even if they inherit the defective gene from one parent. In general, cystic fibrosis is more common in males than females, but it can affect people of either gender.

What is the relationship between cystic fibrosis and covid?

There is still much unknown about the relationship between cystic fibrosis and covid-19. However, patients with cystic fibrosis are at a higher risk of contracting the virus and experiencing more severe symptoms. For this reason, patients and those around them should take precautions to avoid exposure, such as wearing a mask. While there is still much to learn about the relationship between these two conditions, it is clear that taking precautions is essential for protecting those with cystic fibrosis.

What to eat if you have cystic fibrosis?

Planning a diet for cystic fibrosis is necessary to ensure that patients consume all the required nutrients. Certain foods are particularly beneficial for people with CF, and by incorporating them into your diet, you can help improve your overall health. One of the most important things to eat is plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. These contain essential vitamins and minerals that can help to boost your immune system. Additionally, you should include lean protein in your diet to help promote muscle growth and repair. Finally, ensure you are hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids throughout the day; water, juices, and herbal teas are good options. By following these dietary guidelines, you can help improve your health and well-being.

Can siblings with cystic fibrosis live together?

There is no easy answer to this question, as each case is unique. But siblings with cystic fibrosis often have very different experiences, even though they share the same diagnosis. One considerable difference is the amount of time they spend together. Some siblings with CF live together, while others do not. 

There are pros and cons to both living situations. One advantage of living together is that siblings can support and encourage each other. Also, they can help with medication adherence and understand each other’s feelings and needs. One disadvantage is that living in close proximity can put each sibling at greater risk for cross-infection, which can lead to more serious health problems. Cross-infection can be minimized by following recommended infection control protocols, such as hand-washing and using separate bathroom facilities. Ultimately, deciding whether or not to live together depends on the individuals after consultation with medical experts.

Pulmonary fibrosis vs cystic fibrosis

Pulmonary fibrosis and cystic fibrosis are two lung diseases that share similarities but have some key differences. Both conditions involve the buildup of scar tissue in the lungs, making breathing difficult. Pulmonary fibrosis comes about by exposure to certain irritants, such as dust or fumes, and is more common in older adults. Contrastingly, cystic fibrosis is a genetic disorder that affects mostly children and young adults. 

Cystic fibrosis vs asthma

Cystic fibrosis and asthma are two chronic respiratory conditions that affect millions of people worldwide. Although they share some similarities, such as symptoms like shortness of breath and difficulty breathing, they are quite different.

First, cystic fibrosis is a genetic condition that affects the lungs and digestive system, while asthma is a condition that affects the airways. Secondly, cystic fibrosis is a progressive disease that often leads to early death, while asthma is a chronic but manageable condition. 

Does smoking cause cystic fibrosis?

There is no evidence that smoking causes the disease since cystic fibrosis is hereditary. However, smoking increases inflammation in the lungs and decreases lung function. As a result, people with cystic fibrosis who smoke are more likely to experience serious health complications and have a shorter life expectancy. Given the risks, it is best to avoid smoking if you have been diagnosed with cystic fibrosis.

Can people with cystic fibrosis have children?

One of the most common symptoms of cystic fibrosis is infertility in men. However, women with CF can conceive and carry a child to term. In recent years, advances in fertility treatments have made it possible for some people with cystic fibrosis to have children. For example, in-vitro fertilization (IVF) can be used to bypass damaged fallopian tubes, and intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) can be used to directly inject sperm into an egg. So, while cystic fibrosis can make it challenging to have children, it is not impossible. With modern medical treatments, more and more people with CF are fulfilling their dream of becoming parents.

Disclaimer: This blog post is for informational purposes only and not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking it because of something you have read on this blog.

Get Your Medical Marijuana Card

Same-day appointments available for online medical marijuana evaluation.
Get your certification now!