Clinical cannabis research looks promising for blocking COVID-19

Published May 15, 2020 01:00 p.m. ET
iStock / Tinnakorn Jorruang

We are beginning to see some regions relax shelter-at-home and lockdown restrictions, and as this happens, many people are celebrating this small victory that we seem to have achieved, but this is really just the tip of the iceberg, which is why researchers all over the globe have been searching for coronavirus treatment or vaccination options that can help to stop the spread once and for all.

As we tentatively open our doors, it is important to remember that this battle is far from over, as with most respiratory infections, a second, and even a third wave is not only possible, it’s expected. This means that in the coming months, we may see some regions forced to shut down again to avoid seeing spikes that go too high, threatening medical system capacities, and people’s health everywhere.

As devastating as this global shutdown has been, it is highly unlikely that we’ve made it to the light at the other end of the tunnel, and even if the new social distancing measures are able to keep rates of transmission, peoples’ lives will remain in danger so we need to come up with a long term solution that will go further than us just staying at home, and avoiding human contact.

Researchers everywhere are racing to find the answer, and so far, at least a few have settled on clinical research with cannabis in hopes of finding a cure, but only one has made an announcement that has everyone with an interest in the industry sitting on the edges of their seats.

The research

Igor Kovalchuk, a researcher at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta Canada, says that after combing through an incredible library of 400 strains, his team believes that about 12 strains so far seem to have the potential to put up a barrier between the user and COVID-19, decreasing the risk of transmission. Igor says that he’s hopeful after 3 months worth of results, but that much more research is necessary to figure out exactly how effective cannabis oil, the product in question, really is as a coronavirus treatment.

Why does it work?

The researchers at the University of Lethbridge are not quite sure why these particular 12 strains seem to be so effective as a coronavirus treatment, but from what they’ve seen so far, they appear to reduce the number of virus receptors by up to an astounding 73%. With fewer receptors open, COVID-19, and other viruses will have a more difficult time getting in, or at least, that is the theory so far. Researchers still don’t know which specific element it is that is causing this success, but it is believed to lie in the powerful cannabinoids like THC and CBD.

How long it may take for a viable coronavirus treatment

If you were hoping for an instant solution, then don’t get ahead of yourself just yet, as it could be a long wait before we hear anymore about this cannabis research. Though technically, researchers might have the solution in the palm of their hands today, it must be tested for potential side effects and perfected to avoid as many as possible, and this is a process that could take anywhere from one to several years. There is just no way to know for sure how long it might take before we have a reliable coronavirus treatment.

Can I avoid getting sick by taking cannabis oil?

The researchers in this study used cannabis oil to dose patients, and since there are so many ingredients inside of this all-natural extract, we have no way to know just yet which kind you would need, how much is effective, or how often you might have to take it to see any positive effects. So, we definitely wouldn’t recommend rushing out to buy cannabis oil in hopes of protecting yourself against COVID-19. At least, not yet. However, if you’ve already used it, this could be a potential side effect, which is pretty amazing no matter which way you look at it.

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