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The Curious Case of COVID and Cannabis

Sometimes we like to think of cannabis as the end all be all for every ailment. You hear stories of how people started consuming cannabis then all their medical problems disappeared. I for one have been that person, so I get it. The plant we love tends to love us back...most of the time. When the pandemic hit we had an understanding of its effects on lungs and that smoking vaping of any sort would put you at peril. Then random stories about how cannabis could PREVENT the pandemic from wreaking its havoc on you started to pop up here and there (because capitalism of course). Mind you, those same money hungry cannabis companies started this claim, without any data to support ANY claims, that their products might help manage COVID symptoms or even act as a preventative.

There have been some experiments with 3D human cell cultures acting like different diseases, responding to certain high CBD cannabis strains, but many of those strains were developed in a lab and don't represent strains currently available in legal states. While those experiments have been promising it doesn’t mean cannabis is a COVID-19 cure, or a COVID-19 prevention or even a COVID-19 treatment, two researchers, Olga and Igor Kovalchuck have reportedly been developing and testing a novel cannabis strain for years, hoping to create a strain that helps to combat cancer and inflammation. So when the pandemic hit, these two decided to shift their focus and efforts on how the strain (they’ve been researching for years) might be used to help fight COVID-19. (Their work has been published here.)

Through building onto the research already completed on cannabis and COVID by other scientists, they were able to determine that cannabis, a special strain in particular, could potentially block COVID-19 from entering a person’s body to begin with. It all comes down to our body’s ACE2 receptors, which act like a door to our bodies or basically how the virus can enter our body. In the Kovalchuck’s research, cannabis would be used to decrease the level of ACE2 gene expression, temporarily closing that door to the virus. So freaking cool yet, this is STILL just research. They found, “Cannabis sativa, especially one high in the anti-inflammatory cannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD), has been proposed to modulate gene expression and inflammation and harbour anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties,”. In conjunction with Health Canada research “...we have developed over 800 new Cannabis sativa lines and extracts and hypothesized that high-CBD C. sativa extracts may be used to modulate ACE2 expression in COVID-19 target tissues.”

Right now it is JUST….JUST a theory rather than a confirmed fact, but this theory does give a little glimmer of hope for future possible treatments. Next steps could include: manufacturing the successful strain into medical formations that could then be used for prevention and treatment by the medical its probably gonna take some time before you are able to purchase a joint that will prevent the virus at your favorite dispensary. As always just a good reminder with this research and with any strain you consume may have different impacts on you. While it’s great to read research about this it is also important to acknowledge some strains could exacerbate the virus making it worse. So while we love cannabis as our go to for EVERY ailment under the sun, there likely won’t be a magic joint for everyone.

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