- The study found that the THC compound in cannabis oil can reduce susceptibility to the COVID-19 virus.
- While effective in the study, there has been a lack of testing on human subjects directly.
COVID-19, the novel coronavirus, has been instilling fear and panic across the world, as consumers everywhere seek ways to make sure that they stay safe. Though toilet paper was very suddenly nowhere to be found, there has been a significant amount of people that prepared in a different way – lining up at dispensaries. Considering the way a recent study turned out, it's possible that their cannabis stockpiling is serving them much better than the individuals who are still clutching their hand sanitizers and toilet paper purchases.
Published by Preprints, several biologists conducted a study with marijuana and hemp they were licensed to grow for research, thanks to Health Canada. After testing out 13 cannabis oils that came from new strains that were recently created, the biologists found that some of the oil extracts containing CBD and THC had the ability to lower the production of two proteins linked to COVID-19 susceptibility.
Based on what the scientific community presently knows, the novel coronavirus presently spreads from one person to the next via airborne germs, and this risk is increased when the individual is within six feet of an infected person. When the virus travels via moisture droplets to another individual’s nose or mouth, it enters the throat and attaches to a cellular protein called ACE2, which is the protein linked to COVID-19 susceptibility. The other protein, TMPRSS2, takes the virus that attaches to the ACE2 protein and opens up the cell, making it easy for the virus to infect cell after cell with copies of itself.
The research performed on ACE2 and TMPRSS2 before the pandemic, suggesting that cannabinoids were able to inhibit the genes that are responsible for the production and activation of the proteins. Inherently, that means that oils derived from cannabis could basically keep the coronavirus from impacting people at all. To be clear, researchers are not stating that the key to curing coronavirus is partaking in nightly tokes. Instead, it is possible that using cannabis extracts could be used alongside the current medical products in an effort to reduce the chances of becoming sick with COVID-19. The researchers stated that the use of possible infused medicines,
“Can be used to develop easy-to-use preventative treatments in the form of mouthwash and throat gargle products for both clinical and at-home use. Given the current dire and rapidly evolving epidemiological situation, every possible therapeutic opportunity and avenue must be considered.”
Though there are many avid enthusiasts of cannabis, it may be a little early to celebrate these results because of a few factors in the study. First, the oils were tested on cultured human cells that produce the aforementioned proteins, rather than actual human test subjected. The only way to see if the extracts would actually prevent the coronavirus infection would be to test the extracts on individuals who intentionally exposed themselves to the virus. While this seems like an extreme measure to turn to, it’s actually happening with studies, as a study at the Cincinnati Children’s.
The second major caveat is that the research paper doesn’t state what other cannabis extracts the proteins are exposed to, apart from THC and CBD. Since one extract can contain hundreds of different compounds and other cannabinoids, it is hard to say that THC and CBD were the compounds responsible to reducing the activity of these proteins. However, it is possible that there are some other compounds in the oils used that could be helping with the regulation of ACE2 and TMPRSS2.
As a third and final factor, though Preprints published the findings, “they are not a peer-reviewed scientific journal – they are an open-source database.” Researchers can publish their findings here without any other requirements, bringing information to the public quickly but without any other requirements or validation from peers.
Even though there are plenty of factors that could sway this study, the fact that the scientific community could be incredibly close to a solution is a big deal. If marijuana turns out to be the reason that it cures everyone, the federal government might have a hard time with something entirely different – finding a way to justify their claim that there’s “no accepted medical use” for this Schedule I drug.
To view the entire study, visit: preprints.org/manuscript/202004.0315/v1.