Study: Fatal COVID-19 complications could be prevented using THC

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Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

Coronavirus the infectious virus outbreak that has led to more than a million people dying around the world has been the focal point of many recent studies. One such study was recently published by University of South Carolina researchers. The results suggest that the psychoactive cannabis compound THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) may successfully treat serious complications caused by COVID-19.

THC is a widely misunderstood cannabinoid that earned cannabis its false reputation as a “gateway drug”. The cannabis compound was tested on mice who were enduring the symptoms of Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS). 

Many COVID-19 patients have shown to express the symptoms of this life-threatening condition; characterized by its hazardous ability to cause the accumulation of lung fluid, thus resulting in the body lacking vital oxygen.

THC for COVID-19 patients: Infected mice ‘led to 100% survival’ when treated with THC

Although THC is more commonly known for its high-inducing qualities, the psychotropic cannabinoid has also shown promise as a natural anti-inflammatory. In serious cases, coronavirus may cause lung inflammation; caused by an inflammatory immune system response known as a “cytokine storm”.

ARDS, which arises when the immune system starts destroying the lungs and other organs inside the body, appeared to dissipate when THC was administered to the virus-infected rodents. According to the scientists, THC managed to successfully block an immune response that contributes to ARDS. So much so, that animals who were not administered with THC died after their bodies became infected.

Rodents who were given THC as a treatment for COVID-19 “led to 100% survival.” While this discovery may be exciting, the scientists noted that their research is inconclusive and they are not advising coronavirus patients to start relieving symptoms with cannabis-derived compounds.

“I just want to make sure our research is not interpreted as cannabis is good for COVID-19. If you start using THC early on it might worsen the effect because it suppresses the immune system,” said study co-author, Prakash Nagarkatti. It’s like a car where you’re putting on a lot of accelerator, but the brakes aren’t working. 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.”

Could cannabis terpenes be used to treat COVID-19 patients?

Aside from the study into THC for COVID-19 patients, Israeli scientists have also been hard at work testing out a unique cannabis-derived terpene formulation for the treatment of various viral infections, such as coronavirus. 

Their findings revealed that a CBD-containing terpenoid combination was twice as effective at easing viral symptoms as Dexamethasone a type of corticosteroid medication with immunosuppressant and anti-inflammatory properties. 

Dexamethasone has hit the news headlines lately for its efficacy at relieving severe complications caused by COVID-19. Since CBD proved to be more powerful than dexamethasone at treating patients with the contagious virus, its clear that the non-psychoactive compound harbors potential as a prospective treatment option in the future. Nonetheless, restrictions on cannabis make this unlikely until federal laws change.