One of the notable properties of cannabis is its ability to reduce inflammation in the human body. This effect has been used predominantly for joint pains, and all sorts of issues that arise when tissues become inflamed in the body. As this article explains, the CB2 receptors that cannabis activates are key to regulating inflammation. Of course, inflammation in the body is typically a response to something — a raised bump on a bite is swelling of membranes under the skin, and inflamed tissues around any body part makes that area painful and sensitive because of the pressure placed on surrounding tissues. Although inflammation is also important for healing, it can be hazardous as well. Too much inflammation can be debilitating, as sufferers of arthritis will tell you. However, cannabis may be effective at inhibiting the type of inflammation that has been killing COVID patients, too.
The study, conducted by Pathway Research Inc., the University of Calgary, and the University of Lethbridge, tested a sample of artificial skin against a number of cannabis strains to see which was more effective at reducing inflamed tissue. The researchers weren’t surprised to link this function of cannabis to COVID, as the cytokine storms are what appears to be one of the greatest dangers if you contract COVID-19.
While many recover from the coronavirus, what causes the respiratory distress that requires intubation and often leads to death are these cytokine “storms”. Cytokines are proteins that enable communications across cells, and are necessary for our immune systems to work properly. However, as with many things, there’s a problem if there are too many cytokines. These can essentially cause an overload, creating these storms, which trigger rapid inflammation. In delicate places like joints this can be painful, but in critical places like the lungs, they can easily become fatal.
Interestingly, one of the study’s lead scientists says that THC or CBD alone are enough to achieve the necessary effect in preventing cytokine storms. Dr. Kovalchuk of the University of Lethbridge explains that it’s likely the secondary cannabinoids and terpenes play a pivotal role in reducing the inflammation, especially when it’s caused by cytokine storms.
Although the article goes into detail on the specific cannabinoid composition of the three most effective strains discovered in the study, unfortunately you can’t purchase those strains at your local dispensary. In fact, they are “proprietary cultivars, created in our lab, so they don’t exist anywhere or have any other name yet.” That’s an unfortunate downside as we have already passed the date of the first patient with COVID-19 being reported in 2020.
Perhaps it’s possible to look for other strains or distillates with the same flower profile as the effective strains that aren’t available anywhere but this lab, but it’s unlikely that any doctor will prescribe cannabis for COVID patients, let alone administer them to avoid intubation. However, it’s a sign that cannabis could eventually be used as a remedy for a similar threat in the future. As cannabis science progresses, we’ll keep you informed.