Too good to be true?
As Covid-19 continues to ravage health systems and keep people couch-ridden at home around the world, good news is coming out of Canada about the effects some high-CBD cannabis sativa strains could potentially have on the virus. Now, before you either roll your eyes or spark up a celebratory joint, a few important things to note:
The study was published on a platform dedicated to getting research out to the public, and while it hasn’t been peer-reviewed, the preliminary finds are intriguing to say the least.
What We Know
Covid-19 has fast human-human transmission, with a doubling time of around 6-7 days. Similar to other respiratory pathogens, the virus is transmitted through respiratory droplets from coughing and sneezing, and is likely transmitted through close contact. As we all know, the virus has a broad clinical spectrum, ranging from asymptomatic and mild disease to pneumonia that often progresses to respiratory failure, major organ failure, and death. There is, as of yet, no known vaccine nor approved drug therapy.
However, epidemiologists widely accept that the angiotensin-converting enzyme II (ACE2) is the cell receptor of Covid-19 in humans. Cannabis, especially a strain high in the cannabinoid: cannabidiol (CBD), has been proposed to modulate gene expression and inflammation and have anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties. And in fact, 13 of the cannabis strains tested at The University of Lethbridge can down-regulate the protein receptor ACE2, which is targeted by the coronavirus in the mouth, lungs, gastrointestinal tract, and elsewhere in the body.
In other words, because some cannabis strains react with the same receptors Covid-19 would, consuming them (CBD from those strains) may reduce your chances of contracting the virus. According to the study’s lead researcher, Dr. Igor Kovalchuk, “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.” While no one anticipates a be-all-end-all solution, strains from the study could be used for preventative treatments in the form of mouth washes or gargle products. While there’s still a great need for more research and human trials, here’s to hoping our favorite plant might help get us all socializing soon!