As COVID-19 cases rise across the US, the need for treatment options becomes stronger. Medications and vaccines are being worked on, but they’re about a year away. What about medicines we already know about? They’re already safe for trials, could they be the answer?
A team of researchers from the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada, sought to see if they could help fight the coronavirus with cannabinoids. In a preliminary study, they used high CBD strains of cannabis in experiments for a preventative measure against the virus.
A Preliminary Study:
In their paper, which has yet to be peer-reviewed, they analyzed how cannabis could help the body fight off COVID-19. The researchers hypothesized that CBD could modulate ACE2 receptor levels in tissue. They then proposed that lowered levels of ACE2 could help people fight off the coronavirus since it can only enter hosts with these receptors.
Think of it this way — if these receptors are the entryway for the virus, and CBD can reduce those entryways, there’s less chance of COVID-19 entering the tissue. In the preliminary study, high CBD strains of cannabis reduced up to 70% of ACE2 receptors. The study doesn’t proclaim this makes you 70% less likely to catch COVID, but it does suggest that these types of cannabis strains could help prevent the disease.
The team found 13 CBD strains they believe could be used to create a gargle solution for the throat that could help prevent infection. While the study was done at the University of Lethbridge, they were partnered with Pathway, a cannabis company looking to create treatments for different diseases. Swysh Inc. was another partner in the study, and they create oral cannabinoid products. So, there was some motivation behind this avenue of research.
The study does emphasize that these effects couldn’t happen with every strain of cannabis out there. You need specific strains. They used high CBD low THC strains of the hemp plant. Even still, not every strain they used was effective. This points to a need for further research to isolate the differences between effective and ineffective strains and what other cannabinoids are potent in the plant, such as CBG, CBC, or CBN.
While more research is needed, this points to an exciting possibility in treatment options. Covid-19 can do permanent damage to your heart, lungs, and other organs. Current treatment options often cause further harm to these endangered organs. Finding a treatment option with fewer adverse side effects would be a significant win in the fight against this pandemic. Until then, it’s good to have research teams like this one looking at every possible avenue for a solution.