Can cannabis help treat Covid-19
A doctor should always be consulted before adopting any treatment. (Photo: iStock)

Many reports that say it’s true, but can cannabis really help to treat Covid-19? Here’s what we know:

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A Canadian study

Researchers at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada, published a study in the journal Aging in which they explained that cannabis can decrease pro-inflammatory cytokines (small proteins that control the activity of other cells of the immune system and blood cells).

For the tests, they used a model of human skin, and they pointed out that there are “issues” with the study.

“Our study has several pitfalls. We used a human 3D full-thickness skin model to analyze the effects of cannabis extracts on inflammation and fibrosis. While it would be important to replicate the data in airway epithelial and alveolar tissue models and use the SARS-CoV2 virus or parts of it to induce inflammation, our data can be used as a roadmap for future analysis,” they said.

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An Israeli study

Scientists from the Israeli government Institute of Plant Sciences conducted similar tests and published their results in the journal Nature a few days ago.

According to their study, the scientists used high-CBD cannabis extracts to examine their role in reducing lung inflammation. They concluded that doctors should not recommend it to patients suffering from Covid-19.

The use of some cannabis components, such as CBD, led to a marked increase in the polarization of macrophages (the cells that destroy bacteria).

“The increase in macrophage polarization and phagocytosis may facilitate phagocytosis-mediated clearance of respiratory viruses and benefit the first phase of the immune response to SARS-CoV-2. However, it should be noted that macrophages themselves can be infected by the virus,” they explained.

The experts explained that the development of Covid-19 often includes a two-phase immune response.

During the first phase, a specific adaptive immune response eliminates the virus and prevents the disease from developing and becoming more serious. Thus, developing strategies to increase the immune response during the first stage is both “critical and delicate”.

The second phase is usually associated with a virus-induced cytokine storm syndrome.

High-risk treatment

The researchers concluded that more studies about cannabis treatment in COVID patients are needed, and that caution should be shown when proposing cannabis treatment for these patients, “as is presently being suggested in the media”.

Increased levels of macrophage-secreted toxins from cannabis-based treatment can potentially lead to a worsening of the ‘cytokine storm’ in patients with severe SARS-CoV-2.

“For now, users and healthcare personnel should avoid the use of cannabis for COVID-19 prevention or treatment.”