It has already been a year and still the world continues to grapple with the COVID-19 virus. Governments around the world are racing to produce and procure vaccines and in all of this frenzy, research into preventive and curative treatments, especially those found in nature have progressed at a less than ideal pace.
As information on how COVID 19 affects the respiratory system began to surface at the start of the pandemic last year, many surmised that marijuana’s various healing properties may be effective against the viral disease’s symptoms. Aside from lung complications, one of the hardest-hitting symptoms of the coronavirus is inflammation which commonly manifests itself as muscle and joint pains all over the body.
But scientists have yet to learn everything about this extreme inflammatory response triggered by the coronavirus. What we do know well though, is that cannabis has powerful anti-inflammatory properties. In fact, CBD alone can remedy a whole bunch of ailments by itself with almost no side effects. So it makes complete sense why a lot of people would suspect that marijuana may be a viable form of treatment for COVID.
As it turns out, these suspicions may turn out to be true since a recent study has shown the effectiveness of a CBD and terpene cocktail against the extreme inflammation caused by a coronavirus infection.
CBD and the cytokine storm
In 2020, researchers from the University of Nebraska and the Texas Biomedical Research Institute brought up in a peer reviewed article that CBD may help prevent cytokine storms that cause fatal inflammation in COVID patients.
Cytokines are proteins that regulate the activity of other immune cells and blood cells. Produced by certain cells of the immune system, proinflammatory cytokines are needed for fighting off infections. However, the body releases them too quickly during a COVID infection and this “cytokine storm” causes high fevers, nausea and even difficulty in breathing.
Several studies in the past year seem to be pointing to the same conclusion. In September 2020, researchers from Augusta University in Georgia wrote in their paper that CBD has the potential to treat ARDS (acute respiratory distress syndrome) and even reverse the damage to the lungs in COVID patients after the results of their study of the compound on mice.
Meanwhile, in March 2021, cannabis tech company Ebyna wrote in their study that their proprietary blend of terpenes were shown to be effective in controlling cytokine storms with or without CBD.
Ebyna’s cocktail, known as NT-VRL, is a combination of 30 terpenes including beta-caryophyllene, eucalyptol. It was also shown to have a synergistic effect with CBD and the results of the study suggested that it could be used as a preventive measure against the coronavirus. The researchers added that since the lungs are the organs most affected by COVID-19, NT-VRL should ideally be administered directly to the lungs, possibly via inhalation.
Frequently Asked Questions
According to recent studies, compounds in marijuana, particularly CBD and terpenes, can help fight off cytokine storms that cause extreme inflammatory response from the body’s immune system. Inflammation is what causes fever, body pains, and difficulty in breathing in coronavirus patients. However, further studies are needed to confirm if it is indeed safe or helpful to take marijuana while infected with COVID.
A study from the University of Chicago in Illinois this year suggests that a particular cannabinoid may be able to prevent the spread of the COVID virus in the lungs. Researchers have found that CBD and its metabolite 7-OH-CBD effectively blocked the replication of SARS-CoV-2 in lung epithelial cells.
Although CBD may show promise against the coronavirus, a lot more studies are needed to confirm how exactly cannabis can help and people should not rush to conclusions that smoking weed will help them prevent getting COVID. Medical cannabis expert Dr. Peter Grinspoon MD warned that the same function that makes researchers think CBD can fight off cytokine storms may make things worse for those still in the earlier phase of the infection. Suppressing cytokines at a time when the immune system needs it could lead to an infection, Grinspoon added, and said that the immunosuppressive properties of cannabis may not be enough to make an impact on COVID.