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Got lungs? Listen to this.

Got lungs? Listen to this.

First thing’s first: if you’re searching for accurate and accessible information about all things cannabis, the Periodic Effects Business & Science podcast should be one of the first places you look.

One episode in particular has recently captivated the ears of our staff, and we think you should know about it.

Periodic Effects ep. 147

Why we love it

Because it eloquently addresses the perennial question of “should I smoke right now?” in the most timely possible way, among other important queries cannabis users may have during the time of a respiratory pandemic.

Episode 147: “Breath, cannabis, and coronavirus” with guest Robert Litman, founder of The Breathable Body. Litman is a 30+ year breath and movement expert dedicated to educating people about respiratory health and the interconnectedness of breath, mind, and body.


Here are 5 key insights from the interview.

1. Cannabis is a tool for greater self-awareness.

Sure, altering your consciousness is fun. Duh.

But undoubtedly, there is an element of the cannabis “high” that sensitizes us to our body’s inner signals. They don’t call it “the Great Illuminator” for nothing.

How aware are you of yourself in your body? Of yourself moving within your body? Of your breath moving in and out of your lungs?

As Litman puts it, “is your body at the seat of your intelligence? We’re good thinkers and stuff, but what is really going on for you- how you’re feeling, what your emotions are, what kind of sensations you have arising in your body or what kinds of images- those are the things that really tell you who you are and what you’re doing in your life at a particular moment. Cannabis has really helped me accentuate that kind of attention.”

2. Breathe through your nose, not your mouth.

Evolutionarily speaking, our noses were designed to filter and temper air for optimal absorption of oxygen by our lungs. Nose hairs are the air filters of the body. The nasal passage also makes sure that the air is the correct temperature.

According to Litman, who fervently believes that you should “breathe through your mouth as often as you eat through your nose,” breathing through the mouth sends the brain the wrong signal: the signal of fight-or-flight. If you’re engaging in aerobic activity and find yourself needing to breathe through the mouth, Litman says you’re going too fast.

3. Mindful breathing + some weed = heightened sensory experience.

“Since I have a focus on respiratory physiology and respiratory dynamics, when I’m smoking cannabis and using it for that reason (awareness), I am paying real close attention to how my breath and body are moving in relationship to each other. And that really tells me a lot. It can tell me whether I’m feeling really tight, and I need to pay more attention to relaxation right now. It can also tell me where I’m feeling like I need more space in my body, so I can use some breathing techniques to increase the internal space so I can get more breath- it really just gives me an opportunity to focus my attention in that direction. And that’s how I use it. I certainly use cannabis to alter my consciousness, but it also points me in the directions of things that I’m really interested in.”

4. The old stoner legend is wrong: you do NOT need to hold the smoke in your lungs.

Cannabinoids are absorbed by the alveoli in the lungs within milliseconds- so holding in smoke only further irritates delicate lung tissues without delivering any discernible benefit. Somewhat hilariously, there are even peer-reviewed studies that corroborate this. (As a quick aside, this 1995 study confirmed that “cumulative puff volume” is indeed the primary factor in the “how high?” equation. Go ahead. Have a chuckle.)

So, it seems the jury on breath hold has spoken: just inhale and exhale right away. “It’s gonna have the same impact on the altering consciousness- you don’t need to hold it in your lungs,” says Litman.

More urgently now than ever, Litman says our “respiratory systems are really coming into being highlighted- how do we best take care of them?” There’s an elephant in the room in the cannabis industry that needs to be addressed: COVID-19 is a respiratory pandemic happening on the heels of the Vape Crisis and EVALI, to which we still don’t really have any conclusive answers. What we do know is that there are steps one can take towards better respiratory health.

5. On that note, consider alternatives to smoking flower for the time being.

It’s important that we establish that even when it’s exhaled right away, cannabis smoke is, undeniably, a lung irritant. Which makes it, undeniably, not ideal to partake in right now (or at least not as often).

There are endless ways of using cannabis flower that do not involve irritating the lungs. If you really like to inhale (we get it, that’s us, too) flower vaporizers like the PAX are great places to start. But right now is an especially good time to experiment with edibles, patches, and tinctures- anything to spare our lungs a bit. Also, if you’re one of the lucky ones with some extra time on your hands this quarantine, try some DIY stuff like making your own cannabutter for weed edibles from scratch.


If you’re interested to learn more about Robert Litman or his classes, workshops, and other resources, check out The Breathable Body.

For more on all things cannabis-related, check out Periodic Effects Business and Science Podcast.

Ready to experiment with other forms of cannabis? Smart. Give us a call before ordering online and we’ll help you get started.