"All substances are poisonous, there is none which is not a poison; the right dose differentiates a poison from a remedy" Paracelsus, circa 1538
Breathlessness can have a major impact on the quality of life for patients with respiratory diseases. Despite the best efforts of scientists for many years, no one has been able to develop a way to deal with the sensation of breathlessness without suppressing the drive to breathe.
Researchers from Imperial College London are looking for volunteers to test whether cannabinoids, the active ingredient of cannabis, can be used to alleviate the sensation of breathlessness caused by illnesses such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
The team is looking for volunteers aged between 50 and 70, who don't have breathing difficulties. The volunteers will be hooked up to a circuit to regulate and measure their breathing. Carbon dioxide will be added to the air breathed by the volunteers, causing the sensation of breathlessness. This is a safe method of simulating breathlessness as the body naturally produces carbon dioxide.
Afterwards the volunteers will be given a spray, which includes tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient in cannabis, which is hoped to reduce the sensation of breathlessness.
The special formulation of the drug as a spray avoids the harmful effects of smoking cannabis. We hope the drug will stop the sensation of breathlessness, potentially providing a new way to deal with respiratory diseases.