Canadian researchers think that a special strain of cannabis they have been working with might potentially be a valuable tool in the fight against COVID-19.
Dr Olga and Igor Kovalchuk from the Canadian University of Lethbridge have been involved in cannabis research since 2015 and have collected a number of different varieties worldwide from which many cannabinoid extracts are being tested. The study is currently undergoing peer review but is available as a preprint on Research Square.
Dr. Olga Kovalchuk is recognized as one of Canada’s most influential people for her research focuses on the effects of long-term exposure to radiation, and how that exposure changes cellular and molecular structures in animals and people.
The Kovalchuk’s however are not the only scientists looking at cannabis to help with COVID-19 patients. Research institutions have also started looking at many cases where infected individuals have begun self-treating their COVID-19 infections/symptoms with CBD-based products.
Why CBD products may work with COVID-19?
The anti-inflammatory properties of cannabidiol, CBD, seem to fulfil many criteria in early treatment that may prevent or slow the disease from escalating to life-threatening proportions.
“These plants have a number of well known natural curative properties that are showing promise”.
With the global pandemic, Olga and Igor are convinced that they have found strains of cannabis which are very promising in the fight against COVID-19. They have begun to study the special receptors and proteins which the virus controls in the body.
The Kovalchuks say that, based on the preliminary data (which is undergoing pending peer review) that anti-inflammatory cannabis extracts high CBD content may modulate the receptor levels in tissues such as the mouth, lungs and intestinal cells.
It has already been demonstrated that one of the receptors, called ACE2, is an integral portal through which the COVID-19 virus enters the body.
“The virus has the capability to bind to it pull itself into the cell, almost like through a doorway,”
says Olga Kovalchuk on the Calgary News Portal CTV.
While other important receptors also enable viruses to readily enter other tissues and multiply quickly, a few cannabis extracts decrease inflammation and slow down active viruses.
“Imagine a cell is a large building, Cannabinoids reduce the number of doors in the building by approximately 70%, which means that access is severely limited. So you have a better likelihood of fighting with it”
says Igor Kovalchuk.
Early findings indicate that cannabis extracts in inhalers, mouthwashes and throat rinses could be used either in clinical practice and also for home treatment.
The analysis has been conducted in collaboration with a number of hospital wards and is expected to involve dozens of moderately affected patients.
Dr. Barak Cohen, chief anesthesiologist and the head of corona management in Ichilov, as well as the initiator of this study, highlighted:
This is a novel method of treating some of those emerging symptoms utilizing a component of the cannabis plant that’s deemed safe to use and not addictive.
The study is aimed at investigating whether or not the active ingredients of cannabis may inhibit the many inflammatory processes associated with severely ill coronavirus patients or to act as a preventative measure from the virus.
A number of Israeli companies have been exploring the CBD terpenes role in combatting COVID-19
While many skeptics try bundle cannabis research into COVID-19 as “desperation science” some of the early trial results have indicated, CBD may at the moment be outperforming the leading COVID-19 treatment.
The research noted that CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties documented in the Canadian studies actually held water and were required for further investigation.
Terpenes are mostly responsible for the smell of most plants and some animal compounds however have reportedly shown therapeutic advantages on their own.
“Recently, we’ve seen positive results from studies suggesting that CBD, a compound in cannabis, may help fight these cytokine storms.” forbes
Reports from the study show that a combination of CBD with terpenes was 3 times more effective at inhibiting cytokine activity than dexamethasone, a corticosteroid which a recent study found to be an effective treatment for Covid-19 cytokine storms.
How COVID-19 Attacks the Immune Sytem
Many doctors suspect that gravely ill patients downhill spiral is due to an overreaction of the immune system also known as a “cytokine storm” which triggers a slew of viral infections in the lungs.
Cytokines are molecules that signal and guide the healthy immune responses; however with a cytokine storm, the levels of some cytokines can escalate far more than what is required, and immune cells then start to “attack” healthy tissues in the lungs. This causes blood vessels to leak and the bodies blood pressure drops causing clots to form and ultimately organ failure.
In some COVID-19 patients, the immune system goes into overdrive and starts attacking the body itself in what’s called a cytokine storm. When lung tissue is attacked, it can lead to acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and the need for a patient to be placed on a ventilator.
Drs. Olga and Igor Kovalchuk, professors in University of Lethbridge’s Department of Biological Sciences, along with researchers from Pathway RX, have found that certain cannabis strains show the potential to tamp down an immune system that’s gone into overdrive, thus preventing ARDS from developing.
Having appropriate immune system responses leads us to a Dr. William Courtney high dosing THC and CBD in raw Cannabis plant material.
The Immune System and Juicing Cannabis
According to Dr. William Courtney (dietary specialist) and an avid purveyor of Cannabis as a health supplement, “you are actually walking away from 99% of the benefits cannabis provides when you cook or smoke cannabis.”
Cannabis in its raw format contains both THCA (Tetrahydrocannabinolic-acid) and CBDA (Cannabidiolic-acid) both are required to create the active THC and CBD compounds. Only when you heat decarboxylate THCA does it turn into THC, which is what causes the psychoactive effects associated with smoking marijuana.
Furthermore, the human body is able to take substantially higher dosages of cannabinoids when they are consumed in the raw format
Dr Courtney says
“If you don’t heat marijuana, you can go up to five or six hundred milligrams and use the plant strictly as a dietary supplement by upping the anti-oxidant and neuro-protective levels which come into play at hundreds of milligrams of CBDA and THCA. It is this dramatic increase in dose from 10 mg of psychoactive THC to the 500 mg – 1,000 mg of non-psychoactive THCA, CBDA, and CBGA that comprises the primary difference between traditional medical marijuana treatments and using cannabis as a dietary supplement.”
Two-Way Communication With Nerve Cells
One-way traffic in nerves is the primary reason for inflammation in the human body. In this case, the immune cells are attacked and nothing is signalling the nerves to tell them to restore staisis. Yet with cannabinoids a two-way communication signalling is made possible, causing reduced inflammation. The cannabinoids operate by preventing over reactions and provide the nerves with better two-way communications.
Human beings have endocannabinoids in our bodies; These endocannabinoids adhere to different receptors throughout our bodies and help to regulate a number of immune functions, nerve functions, and bone functions.
Supplementing with plant cannabinoids will help restore the optimal functioning of these systems.
How to Juice Raw Cannabis
Juicing Cannabis requires raw or organic cannabis, avoiding any plants that could have been exposed to pesticides or other contaminants.
- Like with most vegetables fresher is better.
- You may have to grow your own.
- Dr. Courtney says 15 leaves, and 2 large (2 to 4 inches long) raw buds per day.
- Raw buds are flowers harvested when the THC glands are clear (rather than amber).
- It is recommended that you mix in another vegetable juice to cut down on the bitterness of the raw cannabis. A popular choice is carrot juice, and a ratio of 1 part cannabis juice to 10 parts carrot juice is a good rule of thumb.
- Split the juice drink into 3 parts and drink with each meal, or store for up to 3 days in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator.
This month, researchers from the University of Nebraska and the Texas Biomedical Research Institute are recommending more research into how cannabis-derived CBD might help treat dangerous lung inflammation from the novel coronavirus. The authors detailed the evidence for how cannabis’ anti-inflammatory powers may help in a peer-reviewed article in this month’s issue of Brain, Behavior, and Immunity.
“Randomized clinical trials to test the efficacy of CBD on alleviating anxiety and fear associated with COVID-19 infection and its consequences on people’s physical, social and psychological well-being may be beneficial.”
CBD has shown significant anti-inflammatory properties in previous studies, it doesn’t create any psychotropic effects associated cannabis’ most common cannabinoid THC, and it has been approved safe for children with intractable epilepsy.
There is an urgent global need for new therapies and prevention strategies that can help curtail disease spread and reduce mortality. Inhibition of viral entry and thereby spread constitute plausible therapeutic avenues.