Can Cannabis Treat COVID-19?
Since the COVID-19 outbreak began, cannabis consumers the world over have asked if cannabis can help fight off the virus. As scientific research continues to come in, much of the available evidence suggests benefits in using cannabis for COVID-19. Here’s a short summary of the evidence on how this miracle plant works on the virus.
What Does Science Say About Cannabis for COVID-19?
Much of the available evidence focuses on the power of CBD and terpenes and their ability to help quell something known as cytokine storms. This is a complicated name for proteins that play an important role in modulating our immune systems, that increase inflammation levels in the body in response to infection.
Over the course of the pandemic, high elevations of cytokines and inflammation in the body has led to the deaths of many COVID-19 patients. Cytokines are crucial in fighting infections, but when infections are particularly severe, cytokine production can reach dangerously elevated levels in the blood, causing fever and excess inflammation along with fatigue, nausea, breathing difficulties and, in extreme cases, even organ failure.
The Science Behind Cannabis, Cytokines, and COVID
One study carried out at the University of Nebraska and the Texas Biomedical Research Institute found that CBD may help fight the cytokine storms in Covid-19 patients.
Another study positively concluded that CBD might help in treating infections. The mice study showed that when CBD was administered to the subjects, they experienced a decrease in cytokine storms and a reduction in acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). In some cases, CBD was even observed to reverse some of the lung damage.
A third study performed by Israeli researchers found that CBD and a blend of anti-inflammatory terpenes could significantly reduce levels of certain cytokines common in severe cases of Covid-19. Researchers claimed that CBD and the terpene blend performed better than the commonly prescribed dexamethasone at reducing cytokines.
It should be noted that these are early studies. And while the results do seem positive, more human research is required before the scientific community can definitively recommend cannabis as a treatment for COVID-19 symptoms.
Are There Any Downsides to Using Cannabis for COVID-19?
On the flip side, there is always a heightened risk for those who smoke cannabis when treating respiratory diseases. In some individuals, smoking cannabis can cause mild lung irritation or even bronchitis. Those who have compromised lungs may choose to consume their cannabis in some other form, such as edible cannabis, to avoid combustion.
At the very least, from the three studies referenced above, researchers are in agreement that the data support the notion that CBD can undoubtedly help reduce dangerous cytokine storms and the development of ARDS, which has been fatal for many of those with COVID-19.
Medical Marijuana in Canada
Direct scientific evidence aside, the subjective feeling of well-being that many cannabis consumers experience may be in and of itself an effective medicine.
Luckily, the availability of medical marijuana in Canada means that the stress of lockdowns and the associated mental health consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic can be somewhat curtailed. Everyone may react slightly differently to cannabis, but there can be little doubt that mental health benefits of cannabis may provide much-needed relief for many in difficult times.