Smoking cigarettes is well known to cause lung damage, but this is not only due to smoke. Nicotine in whatever form – even nicotine replacement therapies like a patch – causes lung inflammation and fibrosis by activating acetylcholine receptors. Polish scientists recently examined how the endocannabinoid system fits into the picture. Activating the CB2 receptor ameliorated nicotine-induced fibrosis, while blocking the receptor exacerbated the problem. Fibrosis involves the accumulation of a protein called collagen between cells. This ultimately impairs the absorption of oxygen in the lungs. CB2 activation slowed the differentiation or migration of a major collagen-releasing immune cell (the myofibroblast) to the lungs. This is one of many studies indicating that CB2 agonists – in some cases – will reduce fibrosis. The endocannabinoid system is bidirectional, however. Sometimes cannabinoids can worsen fibrosis, particularly CB1 agonists in the kidneys and liver.
THE ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO CBD
By the Editors of Reader’s Digest & Project CBD: Everything You Need to Know About What It Helps, Where to Buy It, and How to Take It.