A Canadian study has found that cannabis may be able to prevent COVID-19 infection.
The study was done by University of Lethbridge researchers in Alberta and found that cannabis strains high in CBD are able to down-regulate ACE2 receptors. The SARS-CoV-2 virus, the virus which causes COVID-19, uses ACE2 receptors to infect human cells. The researchers found that some high-CBD strains of cannabis can reduce ACE2 receptor activity by up to 73 percent.
In addition, the researchers found that some cannabis extracts “down-regulate serine protease TMPRSS2, another critical protein required for SARS-CoV2 entry into host cells.”
The researchers examined over 400 strains of cannabis. They found that 13 of them, especially high-CBD sativas, down-regulate ACE2. SARS-CoV-2 targets ACE2 receptors in the lungs, gastrointestinal tract, mouth, kidneys and testes.
Consuming these strains may reduce the chance of COVID-19 infection since these strains interact with the ACE2 receptors that SARS-CoV-2 also interacts with.
The study has not been peer-reviewed and the process has not yet been tested on humans.
The research was done on artificial 3D models which mimic body parts that COVID-19 has an effect on, like intestinal tissues and airways. There is no way to know whether the strains will behave in real people the same way they behaved on the 3D models.
The researchers said high-CBD extracts could “become a useful and safe addition to the treatment of COVID-19 as an adjunct therapy.” They said the extracts could “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. Such products ought to be tested for their potential to decrease viral entry via the oral mucosa.”
The researchers urged this avenue to be pursued, saying, “Given the current dire and rapidly evolving epidemiological situation, every possible therapeutic opportunity and avenue must be considered.”
Over 5.01 million cases of COVID-19 have been reported across 188 countries and territories. Over 328,000 deaths have resulted from the disease. Over 1.9 million people have recovered from the disease. The spread of the disease has triggered the largest economic depression since the Great Depression. No medication or vaccine is currently approved for COVID-19 treatment. Numerous attempts around the globe are currently underway to develop a safe, effective vaccine. Some researchers are also attempting to develop antibody treatments.