Researchers from the University of South Carolina performed studies on mice with COVID-19, that suggest THC may help to mitigate the harmful impacts of the virus.
As the world continues to search for a cure for COVID-19, discussions have emerged around whether cannabis may help with the virus. While the FDA had to send out warning letters to companies who made unfounded claims that cannabis could cure the virus, simultaneously, companies like Incannex (ASX:IHL) are working on a cannabinoid-based COVID-19 treatment. Moreover, early studies on CBD's anti-inflammatory effects have shown some benefits in alleviating the "cytokine storm" that follows severe reactions to COVID-19.
As we've discussed previously, the cytokine storm is an inflammatory response, and one of the biggest causes of COVID-19 fatalities. Many believe that mitigating the effects of the cytokine storm will help to massively reduce hospitalizations from the novel coronavirus.
Now, the University of South Carolina have reported that tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active compound in cannabis that causes users to get high, could similarly help to minimize potentially lethal COVID-19 complications, as they discuss in their preliminary study published in Frontiers in Pharmacology,
The study showed that when THC was administered to mice, there was evidence it may help to prevent Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS), a symptom akin to a cytokine storm.
"Whether it occurs at home or at the hospital, ARDS can be fatal. People who survive ARDS and recover from COVID-19 may have lasting pulmonary scarring," Johns Hopkins have reported.
"It's like a car where you're putting on a lot of accelerator, but the brakes aren't working," said Prakash Nagarkatti, a co-publisher of the study.
"Basically what's going to happen is your car is going to crash because you can't stop it. And that's basically what's happening with ARDS."
Throughout the three separate studies undertaken by researchers, 100% of the mice given THC survived, which has since prompted Nagarkatti to urge health officials to consider beginning human trials with THC.
As we've discussed previously, smoking, in general, is not ideal during the COVID-19 pandemic, and so studies may need to use alternative consumption methods.
However, Nagarkatti also warned against blanket endorsements of THC in curing COVID-19, as it can also have some immunosuppressant effects that could hypothetically increase one's susceptibility to COVID-19.
"I just want to make sure our research is not interpreted as marijuana is good for COVID 19," Nagarkatti said "If you start using THC early on it might worsen the effect because it suppresses the immune system.
As is the case with all studies into COVID-19 treatments, any promising results that have been achieved at this point are not yet conclusive enough to make a decisive statement.
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