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CBD for Cystic Fibrosis [Exploring the Science]

Medical marijuana has gained a lot of traction over the years for its potential to relieve a range of symptoms, so much so that we are now seeing state after state alter their laws to accommodate for the plant in some way or another.

While we understand that cannabis or CBD oil cannot cure any disease, it has been shown across many studies that it could offer some potent medical benefits that can help ease common symptoms that are found across many conditions; one of which is cystic fibrosis.

But how can CBD oil help with this progressive disease that affects so many Americans each year? We have put together a guide to everything you need to know about cannabidiol, and how it could have the potential to help with some of the worst symptoms of cystic fibrosis.

What is Cystic Fibrosis?

Cystic Fibrosis, or CF, is a genetic condition, meaning that it cannot be contracted later in life but is something you are born with. Cystic fibrosis affects around 30,000 Americans, and unfortunately has no current cure. It is a progressive disease, meaning it will only get worse over time. However, that being said, treatment has undoubtedly come a long way over the years, having significantly increased the expected lifespan of those suffering from the condition.

What are the Symptoms of Cystic Fibrosis?

Cystic fibrosis has a range of symptoms, which can vary widely depending on how severe your condition is and other factors such as your age. However, the most common effect of cystic fibrosis that affects all sufferers is an impaired immune system. Those who suffer from CF are extra susceptible to infections, particularly in the lungs. Other symptoms of CF include:

  • Persistent coughing
  • Increased phlegm
  • Frequent lung infections
  • Shortness of breath or wheezing
  • Difficulty gaining weight or increased weight gain
  • Digestive issues, e.g. constipation or runny stool
  • Male infertility
  • Significantly shorter life expectancy.

What Causes Cystic Fibrosis?

As we mentioned before, cystic fibrosis is a condition that you are born with, and thus all comes down to genetics. To have CF at birth, both parents must be carriers of the faulty gene that causes the condition. Many people go through life not even knowing they are carriers of the gene, meaning it is harder to avoid passing the disease on to a child.

How is Cystic Fibrosis Treated?

Due to the nature of CF, those suffering must maintain a good relationship with their medical team. Most sufferers of the condition will need to go for various treatments regularly to minimize the symptoms and risks associated with the disease.

Cystic fibrosis causes a build-up of thick and sticky mucus within the lungs and other organs. This causes bacteria to get stuck, leading to an increase in infections. This mucus build-up can also block airways and cause extensive damage over time, such as lung damage and even respiratory failure. Due to this, treatments include airway clearance therapies, medicines that are to be inhaled, antibiotics to fight off infection, and enzyme supplements to re-establish the nutrient levels within the body.

One of the most typical treatments for CF is known as CTFR modulators (Cystic Fibrosis Transmembrane Conductance Regulator), which are designed to correct the malfunctioning proteins, produced by the cystic fibrosis gene.

CBD for Cystic Fibrosis

Cannabidiol or CBD has been used more and more frequently over recent years to provide relief for a wide range of symptoms. CBD has been shown* to possess some beneficial properties, such as helping to reduce inflammation, treat anxiety symptoms, and act as a neuroprotectant, along with other things that make it a promising option for many patients worldwide.

Due to CBD being a non-psychoactive cannabinoid*, meaning that the THC levels are so low that it won’t leave you feeling high, it has become a very popular option for patients who require consistent relief. Additionally, CBD isn’t addictive*, cannot cause an overdose, and does not seem to cause any significant side effects, although users can expect the odd minimal side effect such as dry mouth and dry eyes.

But can CBD help those with cystic fibrosis? In an article posted by The Lung Institute*, they acknowledge that the anti-inflammatory properties of marijuana, specifically THC, can provide relief to those suffering from lung diseases; however, the risks associated with smoking make cannabis a bit of a no go for sufferers of the condition.

So with that being said, could it be that CBD may be the obvious alternative? CBD oil is not smoked, so any respiratory irritation is instantly excluded here, but how does it work with our body to combat the symptoms of CF?

CBD for the Endocannabinoid System

When consumed, cannabidiol interacts with our bodies internal endocannabinoid system. This is the body’s regulatory machine; it has a hand in maintaining all kinds of bodily functions from regulating our internal temperature to keeping our feelings, appetite and even pain receptors in check. When consumed, CBD encourages the endocannabinoid system to produce more natural cannabinoids, so that ultimately it can fight off anything nasty with more efficacies.


When it comes to CF, we know that many of the condition’s most unpleasant symptoms align with the potential benefits that CBD has to offer. The potent anti-inflammatory properties of CBD which are referenced in a range of studies* – such as Overcoming the Bell-Shaped Dose-Response of Cannabidiol by Using Cannabis Extract Enriched in Cannabidiol published by Gallily, Yekhtin and Hanus – show that the cannabinoid can provide relief to infections, lung issues, inflamed airways and overall internal swelling. This makes it a promising option for CF sufferers.

Digestive Aid

Cystic fibrosis patients can often suffer from unpleasant digestive problems, from severe constipation through to diarrhea. This is due to the condition controlling water and salts in the body as a result of excess mucus, which affects the pancreas and prevents vital salts from being properly absorbed. Cannabidiol has been used to provide relief to those suffering from digestive problems such as Chron’s and IBS, as not only does it offer anti-inflammatory properties, but it also helps with underlying appetite problems too.

A study* done into the role of CBD in digestive disorders published in 2013 revealed that “CBD is a very promising compound since it shares the typical cannabinoid beneficial effects on gut lacking any psychotropic effects . . . Now it is evident that this compound may interact at extra-cannabinoids receptor sites. This strategic interaction makes CBD a potential candidate for the development of a new class of anti-IBS drugs.”

While CBD cannot affect the way the body absorbs salts due to the condition, it may be able to relieve diarrhea, meaning that fewer nutrients are lost in this manner.

Weight Gain

It is relatively commonplace for cystic fibrosis sufferers to struggle with weight gain. With the body struggling to maintain vital nutrients, it is important that patients keep a healthy and nutritionally rich diet that is higher in calories than the average person’s.

Those suffering from CF find that they burn more calories than average due to excess coughing, consistent infection and malabsorption of nutrients, meaning dietary fat is lost on a daily basis.

CBD has been shown to provide potent antiemetic properties, which means it could help to combat nausea and vomiting. As you can expect with an ongoing illness, CF sufferers can often feel unwell and therefore have no desire to eat, or can even struggle to keep food down. A study* in The British Journal of Pharmacology published in 2011, which tested CBD on small animals who had nausea and vomiting symptoms, showed that CBD could prevent nausea and vomiting. In CF, this could improve the number of nutrients preserved in the body, especially when combined with the digestive aid of CBD.

Other Relief

While there are plenty of benefits to CBD use in cystic fibrosis, the ones mentioned above are the main advantages. However, CBD is also a known pain reliever, which could also be of some relief to those suffering from aches and pains from persistent infection.

Final Thoughts on CBD For Cystic Fibrosis

It is first necessary to note that we are not medical professionals and advise anybody considering CBD or any other substance to check in with a doctor first. That being said, we feel the studies and research into CBD show promising results for those struggling with cystic fibrosis.

From general overall well-being to specifically targeted relief, cannabidiol appears to have a lot of potentials when it comes to this specific condition. We hope as research continues to progress that we see more about CBD and CF in the future.

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