MEXICO CITY, MEXICO – JUNE 18, 2020: Marijuana plants seen during a camp outside the country’s … [+]
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Researchers at the University of South Carolina say that THC might be an effective way to treat some potentially lethal COVID-19 complications. The researchers recently published the preliminary results of their study in a report in Frontiers in Pharmacology.
In the study, which was performed on mice, researchers found that THC could prevent the harmful immune response that causes Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) and its enterotoxin, SEB. They also think that it could cause a significant increase in healthy lung bacteria.
ARDS can potentially be fatal, and those the survive it will often have lasting pulmonary scarring.
Essentially, with ARDS your body’s immune system starts to overload and destroy your lungs and other organs as well as the disease it’s actually trying to fight. When you aren’t able to stop that organ destruction, then it can lead to a fatality.
While the researchers saw enough of a positive response in mice they’re recommending health professionals begin human trials of the treatment, they’re also not advocating for recreational use of cannabis nor for patients to self-medicate should they have an active COVID infection.
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THC suppresses the immune response, so using it early on in an infection might actually make your body’s response to COVID-19 worse rather than better.
The researchers aren’t the first to suggest that cannabis might be useful in the fight against COVID.
Cytokine storm syndrome is a form of inflammatory response where white blood cells are activated and release inflammatory cytokines, which the activate more white blood cells. The syndrome can cause symptoms like fever, fatigue, and vomiting, but can advance to a point where a patient might need a ventilator to stay alive or might die.
Early results from the study, which took place in Israel, show that the terpene formulation combined with CBD is twice as effective at using CBD on its own as well as twice as effective as Dexamethasone, a common corticosteroids treatment for inflammation, Health Europa reports.
In June two Canadian researchers also published a study saying they found that a specific strain of cannabis could be helpful in the fight to thanks to its ability to block the virus from entering the body through ACE2 receptors.
“Similar to other respiratory pathogens, SARS-CoV2 is transmitted through respiratory droplets, with potential for aerosol and contact spread. It uses receptor-mediated entry into the human host 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,” reads the study. “Modulation of ACE2 levels in these gateway tissues may prove a plausible strategy for decreasing disease susceptibility.”
The researchers, Olga and Igor Kovalchuck have reportedly been developing and testing a novel cannabis strain for years, except with the goal of creating a strain that helps to combat cancer and inflammation. When the pandemic hit, the duo started to focus their efforts on how the strain might be used to help fight COVID-19.
While a number of researchers have made meaningful discoveries in terms of using cannabis to treat and prevent COVID-19 in recent months, cannabis is currently not an approved treatment for the virus.