Could cannabis help combat Covid-19?

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Recent research suggests that cannabis compounds may play a role in preventing and treating Covid-19. Studies have shown that cannabinoids, the active compounds in cannabis, could potentially prevent SARS-CoV-2 infection and reduce the severity of the disease.

Cannabinoids and Covid prevention

A comprehensive review conducted by researchers at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, Canada, indicates that cannabinoids might be used as a preventive measure against Covid. The review examined various studies on how modulating the endocannabinoid system (ECS) could impact patients during the early and post-infection stages of Covid.

The researchers found that cannabinoids could prevent viral entry into cells, mitigate oxidative stress, and alleviate the cytokine storm associated with severe Covid cases. A 2022 laboratory study supported these findings by demonstrating that cannabinoids could prevent SARS-CoV-2 infection in human cells.

cannabis covid
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Cannabis and better Covid outcomes

Interestingly, a recent study presented at the American College of Chest Physicians (CHEST) annual meeting in Honolulu revealed that cannabis users who contracted Covid had better outcomes compared to non-users. The study analysed medical records of over 320,000 individuals and found that cannabis users had lower mortality rates and fewer complications from Covid.

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Researchers matched cannabis users with non-users based on various factors such as age, race, gender, and comorbidities. The analysis showed that cannabis users had significantly lower rates of intubation, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), acute respiratory failure, and multiorgan failure compared to non-users. Additionally, the mortality rate among cannabis users was 2.9% compared to 13.5% in non-users.

Potential for treating long Covid

The study review from Dalhousie University also highlighted the potential of cannabinoids in treating long Covid, a condition characterised by persistent health problems following a Covid infection. The researchers noted that cannabinoids could help alleviate symptoms such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress injury, insomnia, pain, and decreased appetite in long Covid patients.

cannabis covid
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Limitations and future research

Despite the promising findings, the researchers emphasised the need for more clinical trials and well-designed studies to understand the mechanisms behind ECS modulation in the context of viral infections. They pointed out the lack of standardization in cannabis products and potential differences in how children and adults respond to treatment as significant limitations.

The research community calls for further investigation into optimal dosages, dosing schedules, and the safety and potential side effects of using cannabinoids for Covid. While vaccines are claimed to remain the best prevention strategy, the possibility of using cannabis as an adjunct therapy is worth exploring, especially for individuals who do not respond well to vaccines.

The potential of cannabis to prevent and treat Covid is a topic of growing interest. While current studies offer promising insights, more research is needed to fully understand the therapeutic potential of cannabinoids. As scientists continue to explore this area, cannabis may emerge as a valuable tool in the fight against Covid and its long-term effects.

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Dr. Nikhil Prasad

Dr. Nikhil Prasad is an independent researcher, medical, pharma and health PR consultant, herbalists and phytochemical specialists and a medical and health writer for numerous international publications and sites including his own sites such as Thailand Medical News. He is based either at Sydney, New York, Shanghai, Mumbai or Bangkok.

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