MAY 03, 2023 8:00 AM PDT

Is Vaping CBD Really Better Than Nicotine? Research Shows CBD Can Be Harmful to Lungs

Is vaping CBD worse for your lungs than nicotine? Vaping is a form of smoking in which liquid is heated with a compound such as nicotine or CBD to produce an aerosol inhaled by the user. Vaping, in general, was seen as less extreme than smoking cigarettes and was initially meant for smokers to quit their addiction slowly. However, since the advent of vaping, there has been an increase in non-smoking individuals taking up the habit. Currently, an individual can vape not only nicotine but also CBD or cannabidiol, which is a compound found in cannabis. It has generally been accepted that smoking marijuana is better for you than cigarettes, highlighting the organic component of marijuana compared to the industrial cocktail in a cigarette. The idea that CBD is better for you than nicotine, the addictive compound in cigarettes, has carried over into vaping. However, a recent study has shown that CBD might do more damage to your lungs than nicotine.

A study published in Thoracic demonstrates that vaping CBD is worse for your lungs than vaping nicotine. Dr. Yasmin Thanavala, from Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, led the study that discovered increased harmful effects when vaping CBD. Thanvala and colleagues used both in vivo and in vitro models to demonstrate the effects of CBD compared to nicotine on lungs and immune cells. The models employed for the experiments were exposed to filtered air, nicotine aerosols, and CBD aerosols for two weeks.

The results included more significant tissue damage in lungs exposed to CBD aerosols compared to nicotine aerosols, increased inflammation, and a lower number of pulmonary macrophages, which protect against infection. In addition, Thanavala and colleagues found that CBD aerosols kill more neutrophils, another immune cell responsible for detecting and eliminating infection. Together, the results indicate that vaping CBD weakens your immune system and increases tissue damage. Thanavala and colleagues conclude there are short-term effects to vaping CBD and nicotine. More importantly, the short-term effects can provide the foundation for more deleterious effects long-term.

This report is the first to evaluate various immune cells and inflammation in vivo after short-term exposure to aerosols. Thanavala and colleagues have demonstrated that vaping CBD can cause significant tissue damage, and that vaping CBD has major implications for patients that inhale CBD to reduce pain. While it helps in pain management and stress, CBD health and safety are still poorly understood. The findings in the report should help shift clinical practice and how physicians prescribe and treat patients. While doctors may think vaping CBD is helping the patient with pain, it can cause significant health issues short-and possibly long-term. Overall, vaping CBD should be approached with caution when considering it for pain management. For those that think vaping CBD is a healthier option than nicotine, please refer to this article and evaluate the health risk.


BMJ, J Adolesc Health, Vaping Myths, Yasmin Thanavala, Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, Thoracic

About the Author
Master's (MA/MS/Other)
Greetings! I am a predoctoral trainee in the Department of Immunology at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center. I am passionate about tumor immunology, and hope to one day become an independent principal investigator.
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