Cannabis leaf on mask for covid

The Rundown on Cannabinoids, COVID, and Lung Inflammation

It’s been months since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, and, every day, researchers have been working tirelessly to understand this deadly pandemic and how to combat it.

Recently, studies have begun to show that the cannabinoids contained within cannabis may play a major role in your lung’s health by potentially reducing inflammation. 

While we are by no means saying that cannabis is a cure, it sure poses some interesting theories that could make a world of change right now.

First glance:

  • Researchers are beginning to learn about the relationships between cannabinoids, COVID-19, and lung inflammation. 
  • Scientists have found that COVID results in serious lung inflammation that causes severe health complications.
  • With cannabis’ anti-inflammatory properties, it is being looked into as potential support for COVID treatment. 
  • According to ULETH research, high CBD Sativa strains showed most promise through modulating ACE2 molecules.
  • The University of Lethbridge studies suggest CBD could reduce the virus’ entry points up to 70 percent, making access to coronavirus much more limited.
  • The studies compiled discovered that CBD, a non-psychoactive compound of cannabis, effectively helps reduce lung inflammation and increase immune support. 
  • Though promising, not enough research has been conducted to draw any concrete conclusions.

Fighting COVID: Reducing Inflammation

As scientists have begun to understand COVID-19 a bit better, they’re realizing that attempting to reduce lung inflammation may be key in helping patients with the virus. Those who have had the illness reported muscle pain, fevers, and cough, with inflammation in the lung potentially getting so bad that it leads to cases of pneumonia. When this occurs, attempting to breathe is nearly impossible.

Because of this, scientists now want to find something that will target that lung inflammation directly. If this can be reduced, then fighting off the virus for patients should become easier, too. Researchers have turned to look at different drugs that can effectively reduce IL-6 cytokine activity, a signaling molecule that’s been known to result in serious inflammation and a wave of other complications. With COVID causing a “cytokine superstorm” inside the body, targeting this signaling molecule is essential.

First, researchers looked at an immunosuppressive drug used to treat rheumatoid arthritis. The drug, Tocilizumab, showed promising results in pulmonary consolidation, though demonstrated some pretty serious side effects. It had a 90% recovery rate reported in 21 patients, but also resulted in cases of pancreatitis and hypertriglyceridemia; this meant that alternate medications needed to be considered.

COVID and Cannabis: The Relationship

From there, scientists decided to turn to the cannabis plant. Known for its novel anti-inflammatory properties and somewhat harmless side effects, this natural alternative appeared promising. 

Specifically, researchers wanted to focus on cannabidiol, or CBD, the most abundant non-psychoactive chemical compound found within the cannabis plant genus. CBD is said to reduce inflammatory cytokines such as ILs, as well as increase the production of interferons, which are signaling proteins key in immune system support and preventing virus replication. 

With all of this in mind, researchers at the University of Nebraska and the Texas Biomedical Research Institute decided to take a closer look at what others have had to say.

What Science Has to Say

Previous studies revealed exactly what they thought: CBD’s been found to effectively inhibit the production of proinflammatory cytokines and increase interferon production without hardly any negative side effects. 

Certain animal studies have shown a direct correlation between cannabis and asthma, demonstrating not only reduced lung inflammation, but reduced airway inflammation, too. All of this shows extreme promise towards those suffering from breathing issues due to COVID.

Along with reduced inflammation, the study also notes CBD’s anti-anxiety effects, a common effect of the virus in general. Those with the virus have been found to experience increased stress and discomfort, and CBD may pose as a good natural option for combatting that. 

CBD Slowing Down Covid Infection via ACE2 Receptors?

The new research from University of Lethbridge suggests that cannabis content could help ‘modulate’ ACE2 receptors, which are basically an enzyme and also an entry point for the coronavirus. “Anti-inflammatory cannabis extracts high CBD content may modulate receptor levels in highly relevant tissues such as the mouth, lungs and intestinal cells. ACE2, is an integral portal through which the covid 19 virus enters the body, says Dr. Kovalchuk. This could mean that CBD content dramatically slows down the virus’ journey inward. 

High-CBD Cannabis Sativa Extracts Modulate ACE2 Expression

So any cannabis? Well, actually high CBD content specifically. In a study to test cannabis’ effect on a human’s immune response, three strains of cannabis were discovered to be the most effective in causing significant down-regulation of TNFa and IL-6. It was found by researchers that these three strains had the ability to modulate the immune response, and thus, prevent cytokine production while also maintaining some molecules needed to combat the virus.

1500 Cannabis Strains and High CBD Content Works Best

While results don’t prove smoking cannabis or using a high-CBD product will produce the same effect, the importance of researching cannabis strains to identify the most effective is paramount. Unlike some drugs, cannabis isn’t generic – one strain of cannabis may work for one ailment but not another — especially medical marijuana or a CBD-rich product. 

Growing Cannabis Specifically For Coronavirus

While research continues, Dr. Kobalchuk believes that there is great potential for developing new therapies such as a specific cannabis strain to treat Covid 19, as well as products to combat COVID-19. With Canada being one of the biggest pioneers at the forefront for investing in the support and health of fellow citizens..

What All of This Means

So, what do these preliminary studies mean?

Though we cannot draw concrete conclusions from these few studies, it gives the scientific community great insight into potential treatments for the Coronavirus. This study itself doesn’t say that cannabis, or CBD, can be a treatment or cure for COVID-19 specifically, but it shows its serious benefits without harmful effects. 

This all means that more research must continue to be done when looking at the relationship between cannabis and COVID. As of right now, this is a great theory that may be able to provide both mental and physical relief for those suffering from the pandemic. 

Final Thoughts

As the world continues to battle this deadly virus, researchers and scientists alike are working strenuously to discover ways for you to feel even just a bit safer during these stressful days. Through more time and significantly more studies, cannabis’ potential as an effective reducer of lung inflammation will continue to be looked at, and, hopefully, we will all be able to see either progress or receive concrete answers as more information becomes available. 

But, until then, you can continue enjoying your cannabis for personal reasons and enjoy the benefits it brings during this time of uncertainty. 

Disclaimer: Research is not yet peer-reviewed and should not be taken as advice to treat, cure or diagnose any condition, including Covid-19. Always consult your physician. 

Related Study: CBD Inhibits Covid-19 Replication