Cannabis and Coronavirus: What You Need to Know

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Indeed, the recent coronavirus pandemic has hit the globe by storm. Since the cure for the dreaded virus is yet to be found, more and more laboratories are racing towards developing and searching for the ultimate solution that will end this phenomenon. 

As of June 2020, there are over 2 million confirmed cases in the United States and over 7 million worldwide.

The research

After looking at the existing drug Remdesivir, which was used back in the day to treat Ebola, medical experts did not rest on their quest to finding the definitive cure. One of the most promising so far is cannabis.

Just recently, Canadian scientists explored the possibility of using medicinal cannabis as a treatment for coronavirus. Based on their findings, it possesses a strong impact that could potentially treat the infection caused by COVID-19. 

The said research conducted at the University of Lethbridge involved 13 cannabis plants, which are rich in cannabidiol (CBD) content. It turns out, CBD influences the ACE2 receptors, which the virus utilizes to enter the body. It blocks the proteins that act as a pathway for the virus as it takes over its host cells.

Researchers suggested that cannabis can decrease coronavirus’ entryway by as much as 70%. However, they also emphasized that more research is required to solidify the powers of cannabis for defeating the contagious COVID-19.

Blocking gateways 

So let’s dig deeper into cannabis’ ability to block virus pathways. As you already know, these entry points are the places where it resides, multiplies, and spreads its way to another host.

As scientists published in preprints.org, a platform where experts can publish their reports, the Canadian team developed unique strains of cannabis. After careful tests, they concluded they effectively stop the virus from getting into the human body.  

Facts state that coronavirus requires a receptor to access a human host successfully. The receptor is clinically known as ACE2 or angiotensin-converting enzyme II. This enzyme is commonly found in human lung tissue, kidneys, oral/nasal mucus, gastrointestinal tracts, as well as the testes.

There is a theory that regulating ACE2 levels in the possible gateways inside the host can lower human’s susceptibility to COVID-19. In other words, this process could reduce the risk of getting the infection. As the scientists put it, if there’s no ACE2, the virus will not find its way to the human body.

Medicinal vs. recreational cannabis

Tons of studies conclude that medicinal cannabis has the potential to treat a plethora of medical conditions, including nausea and dementia. However, it is wise to note that medicinal cannabis is not similar to what we refer to as recreational cannabis. 

These are more popular or garden-grown of cannabis (or sometimes called street cannabis) that are high in Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content, the psychoactive element in the plant.

The Canada-based researchers, on the other hand, have dedicated their experiment on the strains of Cannabis sativa, which has concentrated amounts of the anti-inflammatory component cannabidiol (CBD). 

The team’s varieties are rich in CBD or have balanced CBD and THC. This is so they can administer a higher dose without impairing them, which is very much possible with the psychoactive attributes of THC.

The High Note, which has two dispensaries in Los Angeles, offers both medicinal and recreational use cannabis.

About cannabis and its health benefits

The cannabis we know of today comes in many forms. Its health benefits are ever-growing, too, as researchers continue to anatomize the wonders of the said plant.

As mentioned above, Cannabis contains CBD, a chemical that stimulates the brain, allowing it to function well without leaving a ‘high’ feeling. Along with THC, it can be extracted and reformulated to help ease symptoms of various health conditions.

Apart from the possibility of combatting COVID-19, here are the benefits one can get from using medical-grade cannabis:

  • Pain relief – Cannabinoids, one of cannabis’ chemical compounds, is known to provide relief to people suffering from chronic pain. In the medical industry, cannabis by-products are used to treat chronic pain.
  • Weight loss – Avid cannabis users have testified the drug’s ability to regulate body weight. This is because it regulates insulin while managing the body’s caloric intake simultaneously.
  • Diabetes prevention – As mentioned, cannabis has an impact on insulin, which explains why researchers see its effectiveness in stabilizing blood pressure, lowering blood sugar, and improving blood circulation.
  • Depression treatment – Among the many compounds in cannabis is an endocannabinoid, which aids in regulating moods and easing depression.
  • Anxiety management – When taken in the right manner and dosage, cannabis can help treat anxiety and keep the user calm after an anxiety attack. 
  • Autism treatment – Cannabis has proven its ability to calm and control the mood of its users. Studies have shown promising results when administered in children with autism.
  • Bone healing – Cannabidiol or CBD is said to heal broken bones and hasten the recovery process. It also showed bone-strengthening effects during clinical trials. 
  • Inflammatory bowel disease treatment – Those who have Crohn’s Disease or ulcerative colitis will find cannabis useful as it enhances the body’s immune response as it interacts with cells around the gut. It also prohibits bacteria and other elements from causing intestine inflammation.
  • Parkinson’s disease treatment – The disease is associated with pain and tremors, which cannabis can improve with proper use. It can also help patients get better sleep and improve their motor skills throughout the process.
  • Multiple sclerosis relief – The disease leaves excruciating pain, and that’s when cannabis comes into the picture. Since it is known for alleviating pain, it would be a great help for those suffering from the painful muscle contractions caused by this disease.
  • PTSD symptoms relief – people living with PTSD showed positive results when given medicinal cannabis during several tests. It also showed better control over the fight or flight response among patients, thus stopping it from overdriving.

Medicinal cannabis may have long been a subject of debate in the medical arena, but a lot of research is screaming its potential. It’s probably high time for medical practitioners to consider using it more often, given the many healing benefits it brings to the table. 

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