Recent studies carried out in the USA and in Israel have highlighted certain areas where cannabis may be able to be used as a treatment for some of the life-threatening side-effects of Covid-19.
In experiments using mice, researchers at the University of South Carolina found that THC, the chemical that gives cannabis its mind-altering effect, could help prevent a harmful immune response that causes Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS).
ARDS is a form of lung failure that occurs when small blood vessels in the lungs begin to leak fluid, blocking air from the bloodstream.
It’s been known to occur in COVID-19 patients when their immune systems go into overdrive to fight the virus and begin attacking healthy cells.
The goal of the USC study was to see if THC could block the immune response that leads to ARDS developing by introducing a toxin into the mice that triggers the response.
In dozens of experiments across all three studies, all of the mice that were given THC after the toxin survived, while those that didn’t get the chemical died.
The USC studies found that THC, which stands for Tetrahydrocannabinol, helps suppress the body’s immune response while also increasing healthy bacteria in the lungs.
For that reason, Prakash Nagarkatti, who co-authored the USC studies, emphasized that his team’s research in no way advocates for people to use marijuana if they think they have coronavirus.
‘I just want to make sure our research is not interpreted as marijuana is good for COVID 19,’ Nagarkatti said.
‘If you start using THC early on it might worsen the effect because it suppresses the immune system.’ In other words, using marijuana as a defence against Coovid-19 won’t work because it can suppress your immune system making you more susceptible to contracting the virus but treatment, if you become affected by ADRS, could then stall the bodies over-reaction by suppressing the immune systems natural response to infection.
The researchers also made it clear that the research is still in its early stages and that it would be necessary to carry out human trials to further examine the potential effectiveness of the chemical in fighting coronavirus.
In other research reported earlier this year, researchers in Israel found that a specific terpene compound in cannabis could also be used to prevent cytokine storm syndrome, an inflammatory response that can lead to fever, fatigue and vomiting in COVID-19 patients.
Early results from that study, which was published in August, found that terpene was twice as effective in suppressing cytokine storms than Dexamethasone, a common corticosteroids treatment for inflammation.
Yet another study published by Canadian researchers in June found that a specific strain of cannabis could help block the virus from entering the body in the first place.
The researchers said that their strain of cannabis targets the ACE2 receptors which allow the virus to penetrate the body via angiotensin-converting enzyme II (ACE2) that is expressed in lung tissue, as well as oral and nasal mucosa, kidney, testes, and the gastrointestinal tract,’ the study states.
While all these studies are still in their early stages, together they paint a promising picture of marijuana’s role in fighting the global pandemic.
It also highlights the fact that due to marijuana being on the USA’s Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act, defined as having no medical benefits, research is extremely limited. In addition to THC, mentioned above cannabis is known to have some 483 different compounds and no one really has any idea how many of these might be beneficial as treatments or relief for medical conditions.
Until the law in the USA and other countries who continue to regard marijuana as a dangerous drug with no medical use many of the potential benefits will remain undiscovered.
Much of the research mentioned here is highly complicated and has been interpreted as best as we can manage so if you want to read the more detailed and accurate research as released the following links will take you there:-
- Frontiers | Administration of Δ9‐Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) Post‐Staphylococcal Enterotoxin B Exposure Protects Mice From Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome and Toxicity | Pharmacology