By Emily Ledger
Since the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic, various articles have popped up suggesting the use of cannabis as a possible treatment option. Many of these articles may have seemed far-fetched, and slightly opportunistic, however, researchers in Canada recently revealed that cannabis may, in fact, have some potential benefits.
According to the researchers, from the University of Lethbridge in Calgary, some cannabis extracts may prove useful in preventing infection of the virus. The team is researching over 400 strains of cannabis and suggests that at least 12 could offer some potential.
The strains appear to reduce the number of virus receptors in the body. In turn, this can reduce the chance of an individual catching the virus.
One of the researchers, Dr. Igor Kovalchuk, told the Calgary Herald:
“A number of them have reduced the number of these receptors by 73 percent, the chance of it getting in is much lower. If they can reduce the number of receptors, there’s much less chance of getting infected.”
It is stressed that the findings are from a preliminary study that has not been peer-reviewed. There remains no evidence to suggest that smoking cannabis can help to treat or prevent the Coronavirus. In fact, there is more evidence to suggest that taking cannabis in this way, as well as smoking cigarettes, can actually make individuals more vulnerable to the virus.
However, the findings do suggest that compounds within the plant, when administered in a responsible way, may aid in prevention. The researchers aim to focus on strains that are high in CBD due to the anti-inflammatory properties of the cannabinoid. CBD has also proven to be a safe treatment option for a number of conditions.
Although the findings are promising, the researchers have as yet been unable to secure funding to extend into clinical trials. However, Dr. Kovalchuk suggests that products such as washes, gargles, gel caps, or inhalants could prove useful if future research proves positive.
Dr. Igor Kovalchuk continued:
“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.”
Researchers in Israel are also conducting a study to assess the potential of CBD in Coronavirus cases. This study will assess whether the cannabinoid could help to repair cells that have been damaged in Covid-19 infection.
Advice remains that CBD extracts and commercial products should not be considered a treatment option for Coronavirus patients. Products containing CBD should be taken responsibly, and should not replace existing medication without consultation with a medical professional.