COVID-19 came through the world like a tumultuous tornado. Many people ended up on mechanical ventilators in hospital intensive care units that overwhelmed the healthcare system globally. Many lives were lost.
Healthcare providers faced many controversies regarding medications and how they could best work to combat COVID. Vaccines were slow to come on the market but have been making an impact, as evidenced by a downward curve of hospital admissions.
Although vaccines offer us great hope, could medicinal cannabis help decrease COVID-19 symptoms?
COVID-19 Effects On The Human Body
As a human being coughs, the COVID-19 virus is expelled from their nose and throat. The virus then starts to make itself at home in the lining of the nose. The cells in the nose are rich in ACE 2 inhibitor cells, angiotensin converting enzyme 2.
For most people, about 80%, the symptoms of COVID-19 end with a fever and a cough. Symptoms usually last from 8-14 days. However, those who have a compromised immune system may have a more challenging fight to face.
ACE2 usually helps regulate blood pressure, makes tissues vulnerable to infection because the virus needs that receptor to enter the cell. The virus then takes over the cells operating system, continuously replicating copies of itself, and then continues to invade new cells.
During the first few weeks of infection, a person can shed large amounts of the virus. Common symptoms are fever, dry cough, sore throat, loss of smell and taste, headache, and body aches. At this phase, if the immune system does not stop the virus, the lungs can be attacked. The lung tissue is rich in ACE2 receptors.
A healthy transfer of oxygen is then disrupted. White blood cells then release inflammatory molecules called chemokines, releasing immune cells that target and kill virus-infected cells. Fluid, which contains dead cells and creates pus starts to accumulate and is left behind. This is a precursor for pneumonia with symptoms of coughing, fever, and rapid shallow breathing.
Medicinal Cannabis And Its Effects
Medical cannabis has been known to help relieve many diseases such as glaucoma, Alzheimer’s, and seizure disorders. In addition, there’s no doubt that cannabis has a calm healing effect on the body.
A study conducted in the Netherlands of over 1500 cannabis users discovered that chronic users of cannabis increased their consumption during the global pandemic lockdown. Only one-third of those participants who were not daily users before the pandemic began using daily.
CBD’s Role In Decreasing Inflammation
Known for its anti-inflammatory properties, CBD can act as a vasorelaxant that can decrease pain and anxiety. In addition, when CBD is partnered with other cannabinoids and terpenes, it has a great capacity to treat symptoms of viruses and COVID-19.
Whole plant cannabis extracts have also been shown to reduce blood coagulation in animal models. Most of the adverse effects of COVID-19 seem to be related to issues with increased clotting. Cannabis can be a valuable agent to decrease this phenomenon.
There have been few studies geared toward the prevention of COVID-19 with cannabis. One study added CBD into mouthwashes and throat gargling liquids to lower ACE2 levels in the nose and the throat, considered to be “high risk” tissue.
Other research has been geared towards using cannabis to decrease the cytokine storm. This is where too many cytokines are released into the body, which then attacks the cells in the lungs. Cytokine storms can turn dangerous when the body starts to attack itself.
The lungs cannot remove the excess carbon dioxide and cannot effectively profuse the body with oxygen. Then COVID -19 can then increase the multiplication process in the lungs, which will create respiratory conditions such as Advanced Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS). However, the research study noted that there could be a potential protective role when cannabis is used to protect from cytokine storms, bringing the body back to normal homeostasis.
THC And The Immune System
A research professor at the University of Michigan has partnered up with a pharmaceutical company, GBS Science, to help develop a cannabis-based drug that will decrease inflammation in the body caused by COVID-19.
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive ingredient found in cannabis Sativa, has been known to act as a potent anti-inflammatory agent. Another study conducted at the University of South Carolina on mice that were induced with ARDS noted that there was a significant decrease of symptoms when they were given THC as treatment.
Although much research needs to be completed on the long-term effects cannabis has on COVID-19, the preliminary results focused on decreasing inflammation in the lungs seem promising.
When consuming Cannabis Sativa for medical purposes, it is always best to consult with a physician or a practitioner who can help guide you to the most appropriate strains for your medical ailment.
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