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Smoking has long been the most common method of consuming marijuana. But, while not as harmful as cigarettes, smoking marijuana is known to be bad for your lungs.
Vaporizers now offer an alternative for those looking to avoid the negative effects of smoking. Today, these devices come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from pocket-sized pens to large stationary units.
Unfortunately, vaporizers are still quite new and not enough research exists to know if they are completely free of harm. On the other hand, despite what some critics say, studies do provide support for their health benefits.
A study published in 2007 showed vaporizing could help prevent exposure to toxins in smoke. Specifically, researchers found that vaporizers delivered the same amount of THC into the bloodstream, but less carbon monoxide compared to smoking.
The team concluded that vaporizing is likely a healthier choice, since it “produces the same biological effect as smoking cannabis, but without the harmful toxins.”
‘Vaporization as a smokeless cannabis delivery system: a pilot study.’ (Abrams et al., 2007)
Another 2007 study was the first to link using a vaporizer to a decrease in respiratory problems. The study, which involved both cigarette and marijuana users, found those who relied on a vaporizer reported less lung symptoms — such as “cough, phlegm, and tightness in the chest” — than those who didn’t.
Interestingly, the effect was more obvious among heavy cannabis users. The researchers concluded: “Regular users of joints, blunts, pipes, and water pipes might decrease respiratory symptoms by switching to a vaporizer.”
‘Decreased respiratory symptoms in cannabis users who vaporize.’ (Earleywine and Barnwell, 2007)
In 2010, researchers published a follow-up study that took the 2007 findings a step further. The team recruited 20 cannabis smokers with existing lung symptoms and gave them vaporizers to use for a month.
Following a month of daily use, the researchers evaluated the 20 subjects and found “meaningful improvements in respiratory function.” What’s more, according to their findings, switching to a vaporizer led to benefits in lung function that were comparable to quitting cigarettes.