Updated 07/29/2020. Cannabis is remarkable in its own right, but as of late, scientists looking for solutions to contain the threat of COVID-19 may have boosted its appeal even more. The impact of this virus has been felt by much of the world these last few months. Without a vaccine or a cure in sight, some prominent researchers have devoted their energies to proving how cannabis can help curb the spread of coronavirus.
One new study appears in full on Preprints, a public online research platform. It has not yet been peer-reviewed, meaning scientists have not tested this on humans. Another study from Eybna and CannaSoul Analytics looks at how terpenes may help with specific issues related to COVID-19. Lastly, researchers from the University of Nebraska and the Texas Biomedical Research also published a peer-reviewed article pertaining to CBD and COVID-19. These preliminary verdicts are intriguing, and at the very least, worth considering.
CBD & The ECS
Before we dive into the data, let’s take a look at CBD. Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a cannabinoid that forms in the cannabis plant. Unlike THC, which is the most popular cannabinoid in cannabis, CBD does not get you high. Although consumers won’t get “high” from CBD, they still get to experience the benefits.
Cannabinoids like CBD interact with our endocannabinoid system (ECS). All mammals have an ECS. Your ECS helps to regulate homeostasis in the body but creating and regulating cannabinoids. Simply put, the ECS makes sure everything is functioning as it should. Your body uses natural cannabinoids to power this system. The ECS helps to manage digestion, inflammation, mood, sleep, appetite, soreness, anxiety, stress, and more. Because the ECS is so integral in controlling inflammation, many scientists believe regulation of the ECS is the key to controlling many inflammatory issues.
Some research suggests that CBD may influence the ECS to create more of its own natural cannabinoids, giving users a natural method of promoting overall wellness and homeostasis. In other words, using cannabinoids like CBD might help influence the functionality of the ECS.
Could Cannabis Potentially Help Against the Coronavirus?
This Canadian study suggests cannabis strains, high in CBD, may help fight off COVID-19. The collaborated effort is thanks to six researchers, who tested 800 strains of (Canada-approved) cannabis.
Of those, they believe 13 cannabis strains could be helpful. Interestingly, they are all Sativa and all high in CBD concentration. Much of this research focuses on how these certain strains seem to down-regulate the ACE2 receptor.
Coincidentally, the coronavirus happens to target this same protein receptor in the nose, lungs, mouth, testes, kidneys, and the gastrointestinal tract. This new research claims that some of these high CBD strains are able to reduce the activity of the virus receptor by as much as 73 percent!
To put it simply, since there are specific cannabis strains that interact with the same receptors that COVID-19 does, these researchers believe ingesting these types of cannabis may reduce your chance of getting the virus.
But, as we mentioned earlier, it hasn’t been tested on humans. So, the validity of whether or not cannabis can help with coronavirus is very much still in the air.
Cannabis Research for COVID-19
The Canadian study hones in on distinct strains of cannabis to try and understand if they can help with coronavirus. The scientists also believe they could use these specific these specific cannabis strains to “develop easy-to-use preventative treatments in the form of mouthwash and throat gargle products,” the findings suggest, that may have a “potential to decrease viral entry” through the mouth.
The research linking cannabis and COVID-19 was mainly conducted on “artificial human 3D models” that simulate parts on the body affected by the virus. That includes oral, airway, and intestinal tissues from Mattek Life Sciences.
In other words, we don’t know for sure whether these cannabis strains will have the same effect on a living human as they did on these 3D models.
“The extracts of our most successful and novel high CBD C sativa lines, pending further investigation, may become a useful and safe addition to the treatment of COVID-19 as an adjunct therapy,” said the study’s lead researcher, Dr. Igor Kovalchuk.
What Type of Cannabis Are They Studying?
This group of researchers studied hundreds of cannabis strains to see if it can help with coronavirus. Interestingly, this analysis centers on high CBD/low THC cannabis strains. In these strains, the CBD cannabinoid is present in a much higher concentration than the THC cannabinoid.
Related Article: Why Is Cannabis an Essential Business? [Even During Quarantine]
Essentially, these varieties of cannabis are easy to attain for all Americans across the nation. However, there are some limitations to the legalities surrounding cannabis.
A good way to understand the difference between these two variations of cannabis is to look into their legalities. According to the 2018 Farm Bill, cannabis plants with high THC and low CBD content are all federally illegal.
On the other hand, plants with high CBD and low THC––0.3% or less, to be exact––are 100% legal throughout the U.S. To get an idea of the different cannabinoid profiles of each cannabis type, here are a couple of examples:
High THC/Low CBD Strains
THC total: 22.69%
CBD total: 0.18%
Gorilla Glue #4
THC total: 20.63%
CBD total: 0.11%
High CBD/Low THC Strains
THC total: 0.67%
CBD total: 20.76%
THC total: 0.62%
CBD total: 16.43%
As you can see, the cannabinoid profile will vary based on the type of cannabis. Although most of the cannabinoids in cannabis can interact with the Endocannabinoid system, it appears high CBD strains showed the most promise in this study.
Covid-19 & Terpenes Research
A new study suggests that terpenes, an integral part of cannabis, and CBD seems to work two times better for Covid-19 inflammation than corticosteroid. Terpenes are aromatic oils that reside on plants, like cannabis. Typical cannabis strains offer different varieties of beneficial terpenes. They are secreted in the same glands that generate cannabinoids such as THC and CBD. Plants develop terpenes to lure away predators or attract species that might assist with pollination. The powerful aromas and tastes we relate to cannabis come from terpenes. Much like cannabinoids, research suggests that terpenes also offer therapeutical benefits.
Preliminary results from a continuous Israeli study claims that terpenes might be more useful than conventional CVOID-19 medications like corticosteroids. The study’s results show that terpenes are twice as effective as corticosteroids. Corticosteroids are synthetic drugs that imitate cortisol, which is a hormone produced naturally by our adrenal glands. Doctors prescribe corticosteroids to treat many conditions, including asthma.
Eybna and CannaSoul Analytics are the two Israeli research and development companies spearheading this research. Their original intent was to combat or reduce cytokine storms in COVID-19 patients. A cytokine storm can be thought of as a severe immune system issue that causes out of control inflammatory responses. CannaSoul Analytics is managed by Prof. David “Dedi” Meiri, Ph.D., who is a prestigious biochemist who has studies cannabis’ effect on conditions like Alzheimer’s.
Terpenes & CBD
The Israeli study examines an exclusive terpene formulation called NT-VRL™, which was created by Eybna specifically to treat inflammatory ailments like the cytokine storm symptoms observed in COVID-19 patients. The creation contains 30 unique terpenes that are safe for consumption.
Reports from this study also claim that terpenes paired with CBD are two times more effective at repressing cytokine activity than dexamethasone, a popular corticosteroid that is being used as a treatment for COVID-19 cytokine storms.
COVID-19 & CBD
In this month’s issue of Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, researchers published a peer-reviewed article that details their evidence on how cannabis may be a helpful tool. These researchers, from the University of Nebraska and the Texas Biomedical Research Institute, suggest that more studies and attention need to focus on cannabis-derived remedies.
In the peer-reviewed article, the researchers emphasize that they, “intend to highlight the potential effects of cannabinoids, in particular, the non-psychotropic cannabidiol (CBD), that has shown beneficial anti-inflammatory effects in pre-clinical models of various chronic inflammatory diseases and is FDA approved for seizure reduction in children with intractable epilepsy.”
They continued on to claim, “CBD decreased lung inflammation in a murine model of acute lung injury potentially through the inhibition of proinflammatory cytokine production by immune cells and suppressing exuberant immune responses.”
COVID-19 & Stress
The researchers from the University of Nebraska and the Texas Biomedical Research also highlight CBD’s calming effects. The article explains that “many uncertainties associated with the COVID-19 pandemic such as status of the economy, employment, and loss of connection can fuel depression, fear, and anxiety.”
Remember, the ECS helps to regulate anxiety and stress. If the pandemic is stressing you to the point of anxiety, fear, and depression, one of the best things you can do is to promote the overall functionality and wellness of your ECS. Many consumers and advocates claim that CBD promotes calmness and tension relief.
Can Cannabis Help With Coronavirus? [Final Thoughts]
Whether cannabis can help with coronavirus or not is still being thoroughly researched. These findings arrive as much of the world turns to the science community for ways to prevent and treat coronavirus.
These studies may have also shed new light on the cannabis industry that could hopefully decrease the controversial nature which surrounds it. With that said, there’s already an increasing demand for high CBD low THC products that appease to various preferences.
For instance, for those who might not feel comfortable vaping CBD or smoking CBD flower, there are tincture oils, capsules, and edibles, among many other options. It will be interesting to see how, if at all, this study may impact the cannabis industry.
Read this next: How to Choose CBD Oil Products
Until we get a clear answer, the discord on plausible solutions to curb the spread of COVID-19 will likely continue. Still, these groups of analysts, scientists, and researches have brought pertinent information to the ongoing conversation.
“Given the current dire and rapidly evolving epidemiological situation, every possible therapeutic opportunity and avenue must be considered.”
The researchers are currently exploring ways to fund and advance their scientific efforts to tackle COVID-19.