By Emily Ledger
Researchers at the University of South Carolina, USA, have discovered delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – the most prominent and psychoactive compound produced by the cannabis plant – may relieve a serious symptom of the Coronavirus. Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) is a condition that affects the lungs and other organs. It has been seen to develop in a significant proportion of Covid-19 patients.
The experiment assessed mice that had been administered with a toxin which is known to cause ARDS, followed with treatment with one experimental preparation, including THC. This study aimed to understand whether any of the preparations could block the immune response which leads to the development of the condition.
It was found that THC may be effective – when administered at the right time – to relieve the effects of ARDS. Researchers found that all mice were not given treatment following the administration of the toxic, died. In comparison, all mice that were treated with the THC preparation recovered from ARDS.
ARDS is a condition caused by a strong immune response associated with Coronavirus. A significant proportion of Covid-19 patients develop ARDS, with the condition often leading to serious health conditions.
One co-author of the study, Prakash Nagarkatti, explained in an interview with The State that ARDS may develop when the immune system “goes haywire and starts destroying your lungs and all your other organs”.
It is believed that THC may be effective due to its potential as an immuno-suppressant. This feature of the cannabinoid may mean that it could prevent attacks from the immune system on the lungs and other organs. However, the authors of this study stress that they do not recommend cannabis consumption as a treatment for the Coronavirus and its symptoms.
I just want to make sure that our research is not interpreted as ‘marijuana is good for Covid-19’. If you use THC early on, it might worsen the effect because it suppresses the immune system.”
However, this is not the first time that cannabis and its compounds have been implicated in the treatment of Coronavirus and its symptoms.
Earlier this year, researchers from the University of Lethbridge, Calgary (Canada) found that some strains of the cannabis plant may have the potential to reduce the number of virus receptors in the body. In addition, a study in Israel found that a unique formulation of terpenes found in cannabis plants may hold potential as a treatment for viral infections – including Coronavirus.
However, the results from these studies represent very early research in this area. In order to be considered as a treatment option for Coronavirus or any of its symptoms, much more research is needed.