The whole world is racing to find a cure for COVID-19: it’s hard not to get through the day without hearing the names of exotic drugs: remdesevir, chloroquine, and hydroxychloroquine. Some, like remdesevir, may be promising, as well as techniques like plasma transfusions. But since as yet there is no cure, scientists are examining thousands of possibilities in the fight against COVID-19.
Two cannabis researchers from the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada – Olga and Igor Kovalchuk – recently decided to look into their previous findings on cannabinoid receptor types to see whether cannabis extracts might be useful in the fight against COVID-19.
Cannabinoids decrease the number of “doors in the building” by 70 per cent.
They found that some high-CBD, low-THC cannabis extracts have been proven to be effective in modulating ACE2 receptor levels. ACE2 is exactly the gateway which SARS-CoV-2 uses to invade the human body, and when it does, it creates a cytokine storm resulting in hyper-inflammation, which overwhelms healthy organs, damaging them in the serious, sometimes mortal ways we now associate with COVID-19.
“When COVID-19 started, Olga had the idea to revisit our data, to see if we could utilize it for COVID – there’s a lot of documented information about cannabis in inflammation,” said Ivan Kovalchuk. “It was like a joker card, you know, coronavirus. It just mixes up everybody’s plans,” Olga Kovalchuk added.
But the results were, to quote the scientists, “stunning”. Olga explained: “The virus has the capacity to bind to ACE-2, and get pulled into the cell, almost like a doorway.” Igor continued: “Imagine a cell being a large building. Cannabinoids decrease the number of doors in the building by, say, 70 per cent, so it means the level of entry will be restricted. So, therefore, you have more chance to fight it.”
Cannabis might offer a safe, low-cost, globally-available weapon in the arsenal against COVID-19.
Safety and low costs
The Kovalchuks have already submitted a report on their findings for publication. While CBD has not been clinically proven yet as effective against COVID-19 in any way, we are hopeful that research by the Kovalchuks and others will be allowed to continue and be supported in this direction.
In a time when heads of state are recommending dangerous cures like the internal use of bleach, or expensive drugs and treatments, cannabis might offer a safe, low-cost, globally-available weapon in the arsenal against COVID-19. Let’s echo the words of Olga Kovalchuk who said, “We need to bring it to the people – we need to fight the beast.”
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