A year after the first cases Covid-19 hit the shores of North America, we are still fighting the battle against the pandemic, with many of us feeling the toll that it has taken on us physically and mentally.
Even though vaccines show good promise in combating the disease, sometimes the long wait times for inoculations or nervousness about the vaccines’ effectiveness against the virus — especially with mutated versions constantly arising — have many of us looking for other help.
Medical cannabis, in different forms, is getting increasing attention for its possibilities in coping with Covid, whether it is dealing the with mental health effects of the pandemic (such as anxiety, depression and stress), addressing the inflammatory effects of the disease, especially in the lungs, or even inhibiting the spread of the disease in the body.
But it must be stressed here, at the front end, that the coronavirus can be an extremely deadly disease and though cannabis is showing some promise it is not a proven treatment, let alone a cure, for Covid-19. So we should continue to heed the warnings of trusted medical professionals and keep practising social distancing, wearing masks, doing regular hand sanitizing, and availing ourselves of vaccines as they come available.
Using THC and CBD to Treat Covid-19 Symptoms
Many Covid deaths seem to involve the disease making the immune system overly reactive, or sending it into overdrive, sometimes causing deadly inflammation in the lung tissue and other issues. Some evidence suggests that key cannabis compounds THC and CBD can have anti-inflammatory effects, perhaps averting damage done to the body’s tissues and organs by the disease.
One study published last year, shows that THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) may protect the lungs from overactive immune responses similar to those caused by the coronavirus. The study “investigated the effect of THC treatment on SEB-induced ARDS in mice. While exposure to SEB resulted in acute mortality, treatment with THC led to 100% survival of mice.”
A peer-reviewed article in July 2020 issue of Brain, Behavior, and Immunity looked at the evidence presented researchers from the University of Nebraska and the Texas Biomedical Research Institute showing how the anti-inflammatory properties of CBD may help treat the often deadly lung inflammation caused by Covid-19. Calling for more definitive research to be done, the authors of the study point out that “recent reports have suggested that acute infection is associated with a cytokine superstorm, which contributes to the symptoms of clogging the lungs and making breathing hard or impossible.
CBD could play a role in easing this inflammation, reducing a number of pro-inflammatory cytokines, including IL-6.
On the other hand, there’s also evidence that concludes that any kind of smoking (including cannabis) can pose a risk for worsening coronavirus symptoms and that cannabis could possibly suppress the immune response too much.
Alberta Researchers Look at Cannabis Strains That May Fight Covid
Husband-and-wife researchers Drs. Igor and Olga Kovalchuk at the University of Lethbridge, in Alberta, have been studying how new cannabis strains might block the fatal respiratory effects of Covid-19 and perhaps even prevent the virus from entering the body at all.
Based on their research looking for new strains of cannabis to fight cancer and inflammation, the pair hope to discover marijuana strains that would interfere with the virus’ ability to infiltrate the body by commandeering special proteins or receptors. The ACE2 in particular has previously been identified as a key body entryway for coronavirus. Their research shows that certain cannabis strains may help control immune systems knocked into overdrive by the virus, as well as potentially blocking Covid-19 from entering the body in the first place.
Dr. Igor Kovalchuk claims that they have tested about 400 hybrid cannabis strains that they have developed against the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes Covid-19. So far about 12 have been able to “substantially decrease the expression of the ACE2 receptor, the one that is required by the virus to enter our cells,” he said in an CTV interview.
After preliminary results of their work were published in May 2020, the researchers said that the next steps would be to perform real-world tests of their lab results, setting up partnerships and conducting clinical trials.
Addressing Other Effects of the Coronavirus
Of course Covid-19 is having many other negative effects beyond the immediate physical threats it poses. It can harm people’s mental health and well-being in a variety of different ways, including sleeping and eating problems, increases in alcohol consumption and substance use, and worsening chronic conditions, due to worry and stress connected to the disease.
Many of these issues may be addressed by the medically guided use of cannabis and active compounds, including THC, CBD and various terpenes. Read the latest HelloMD articles to discover new ways that medical marijuana may be able to help with health and wellness challenges that may be affecting you.