There seems to be no end in sight for COVID-19, with cases still popping up in numerous countries around the globe.
Where’s the treatment?
Let’s look to cannabis, shall we? After all, cannabis is the only medicinal plant in the world that has been successful in treating dozens of diseases, from cancer to depression. Cannabinoid compounds particularly CBD already has a long history of safe use as a medication and anti-inflammatory agent. Additionally, cannabis plant extracts can also help mitigate many of the harmful effects of coronavirus on the human body.
Not one but three new studies conducted by researchers at the University of South Carolina has revealed that THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, the compound in cannabis responsible for getting you high, is promising for treating deadly coronavirus symptoms.
The studies, which were published in the British Journal of Pharmacology, Frontiers in Pharmacology, as well as the International Journal of Molecular Studies, found that when mice were given a toxin meant to trigger a lethal immunity response leading to Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) followed by the mice being given THC, they were spared ARDS’ deadly symptoms and they actually found an increase in beneficial lung bacteria.
COVID-19 patients are at risk of developing ARDS, and unfortunately this symptom has already been associated with a high mortality rate. This is what requires patients to be connected to a ventilator, but it still doesn’t ensure a good prognosis.
In the United States, ARDS has been found to affect 78.9 in every 100,000 individuals. The bacteria staphylococcal enterotoxin-B (SEB) results in toxic effects by generating a lethal cytokine storm in the body, causing lung failure as well as other organs and this leads to death. In other words, when a cytokine storm occurs, the immune system betrays the body by attacking it instead.
“The underlying mechanism is your immune system goes haywire and starts destroying your lungs and all your other organs,” says Prakash Nagarkatti, who co-published the study. “It’s like a car where you’re putting a lot on the accelerator, but the brakes aren’t working,” Nagarkatti explains. “Basically what’s going to happen is your car is going to crash because you can’t stop it. And that’s basically what’s happening with ARDS.”
The researchers conducted several experiments which were detailed in the three studies. They found that 100% of the animal subjects given THC were able to survive.
“Acute respiratory distress syndrome is triggered by a variety of etiologic agents. Currently, there are no FDA-approved drugs to treat ARDS because of which the mortality rate is close to 40%,” says senior investigator Mitzi Nagarkatti, PhD, who also chairs the department of pathology, microbiology, and immunology at the Center for Cancer Drug Discovery at USC. “Our studies suggest that THC is highly effective to treat ARDS and thus, clinical trials are critical to investigate if this works.”
What was interesting was that the researchers discovered THC suppresses the process when SEB changes the lung microbiome, resulting in reduced inflammation and lung damage. “We used a mouse model of SEB-mediated ARDS to test the efficacy of THC,” write the authors. “These mice were monitored for lung inflammation, alterations in gut and lung microbiota, and production of short-chain fatty acids (SCFA). Gene dysregulation of lung epithelial cells was studied by transcriptome arrays. Fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) was performed to confirm the role of microbiota in suppressing ARDS.”
So while THC has been found to calm down the immune system instead, and can potentially save lives, Nagarkatti makes it clear he isn’t endorsing cannabis smoking as a treatment to COVID-19. This is one major milestone that can hopefully help doctors and scientists in the near future come up with a cannabis-powered medication that can save lives.
More Research Supporting Cannabis As Viable COVID-19 Treatment
There are several research studies already being conducted that give hope for ending this dreadful disease. But because of restrictions on marijuana research in the United States, the promising information is still not leading to the development of cannabis for COVID-19.
But we already know that CBD and THC is proven in changing the inflammatory response within the body, helping prevent any damage to organs and tissues. While cannabinoids work in the same way preventing inflammatory damage caused by COVID-19, clinical trials are still needed to ensure efficacy and find the right dosage.
In Israel, a study conducted by Cannasoul and Ebyna studied how NT-VRL, a unique formula of cannabis terpenes has been able to treat many inflammatory conditions including the deadly cytokine storm caused by coronavirus. Based on early results, they found that the terpene formula combined with CBD is more effective than using CBD alone.
So it seems that terpenes, which give cannabis strains their fragrance and flavor, are actually much more useful. They do have medicinal qualities that can save lives. The researchers carried out experiments with both cannabinoids and terpenes in varying levels, with great success. They were conducted on human peripheral blood mononuclear cells provided by healthy donors, and found that the medication was effective in
“The preliminary results were highly positive. Demonstrating significant anti-inflammatory activity of terpenes and breaking the perception that terpenes are just flavourings and fragrances compounds with a placebo effect,” explains Ebyna CEO and Co-founder Nadav Eyal.
“Using Ebyna’s proprietary technology of biological data mining, data processing, and formulation design, allowed us to develop our data-driven NT-VRL formulation effectively targeting specific health conditions. This is opening a new world for synergistically-effective natural formulations – holding therapeutic capabilities in which single active pharmaceutical ingredients will have difficulties to match.”
With a vaccine likely months or even years away, it is necessary for governments to make it easier to study the potential of natural or alternative medicine in the form of cannabis, making it simpler for private laboratories and companies to develop life-saving medicine from it.
MARIJUANA FOR COVID-19, READ MORE….