Cannabis Might Block COVID-19 Infection, Study Shows

Smoking weed won't make you coronavirus-proof, but these researchers might be onto something.
Derya Ozdemir

While smoking weed definitely won't make you coronavirus-proof, Canadian scientists at the University of Lethbridge have some promising results that might be considered preliminary evidence that cannabis may block COVID-19 infection.

The study aimed to find ways to hinder COVID-19 from finding a host in the lungs, intestines, and oral cavity.

The researchers have studied over 400 cannabis strains, and now, they are concentrating on about a dozen they say have the most potential to help prevent the virus.

CBD performed the best

To conduct to study, the researchers developed over 400 new cannabis Sativa lines and extracts. The end-strains were high in anti-inflammatory cannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD) since the compound has been proposed to have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.

Using artificial human 3D tissue models, they simulated and mapped out how each strain may impact COVID-19 infections in the human oral, airway, and intestinal tissues. They monitored each strain's ability to modulate ACE2 levels, an enzyme previously linked to COVID-19 infection. 

The lead researcher, biological scientist Dr. Igor Kovalchuk stated some strains showed promising results in ensuring less fertile ground for the virus to take root.

Some reduced the virus receptors by 73%

According to Kovalchuk, "A number of them have reduced the number of these (virus) receptors by 73 percent; the chance of it getting in is much lower. If they can reduce the number of receptors, there’s much less chance of getting infected.”

Cannabis Might Block COVID-19 Infection, Study Shows
Source:Tinnakorn Jorruang/iStock

Moreover, the researchers identified 13 CBD extracts that can change ACE2 levels. The data suggested that some strains could down-regulate serine protease TMPRSS2, which is another protein critical for COVID-19 to enter host cells and spread throughout the body.

Yet to be peer-reviewed

So yes, while the findings are promising, they are yet to be peer-reviewed. The results cannot be taken as conclusive evidence of cannabis’s ability to treat the virus since the researchers haven't identified the ideal ratio of THC to CBD or even if the active ingredient is CBD or some other component or combination.

According to Kovalchuk, if peer-reviewed and more research is done on the subject, the study could be actually practiced in the form of mouthwash, gargling, inhalants, or gel caps.

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