Ten volunteer inpatient asthmatics in a steady state were given a single inhalation of an aerosol (63 mul) delivered in random order, on each of three consecutive days, in the laboratory of a respiratory unit. Before, and for one hour after treatment the pulse, blood pressure (lying and standing), forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1), forced vital capacity (FVC), peak flow rate (PFR), and self-rating mood scales (SRMS) were recorded. Treatments were placebo-ethanol only; delta1-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) 200 mug in ethanol; or salbutamol 100 mug (Ventolin inhaler), administered double blind. Salbutamol and THC significantly improved ventilatory function. Maximal bronchodilatation was achieved more rapidly with salbutamol, but at 1 hour both drugs were equally effective. No cardiovascular or mood disturbance was detected, and plasma total cannabinoids at 15 minutes were undectable by radioimmunoassay. The mode of action of THC differs from that of sympathomimetic drugs, and it or a derivative may make a suitable adjuvant in the treatment of selected asthmatics.
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