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THC Chemical In Cannabis Could Help Treat Covid-19 Complications, Research Shows

The Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) chemical in cannabis may help with complications that come from Covid-19.

Research has been done to find a treatment for Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) – something a ‘significant proportion’ of coronavirus patients come down with.

Credit: PA
Credit: PA

The study – performed by scientists at the University of South Carolina – was carried out on mice to see whether THC could block the immune response that leads to ARDS.

First, a toxin was introduced to the animals that triggers the response and then they were given THC. All the mice that were given THC survived and those that didn’t get it died.

The research states: “It is of interest to note that a significant proportion of Coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) patients come down with sepsis and ARDS accompanied by cytokine storm.

THC Chemical In Cannabis Could Help Treat Covid-19 Complications, Research Shows

“Because currently there is no effective treatment against ARDS, a significant percentage of such Covid-19 patients die from severe damage to the lungs and other organs, caused by cytokine storm (Mehta et al., 2020).

“SEB [the toxin given to the mice] being a super antigen, also triggers cytokine storm and lung injury as seen from the current study, however, clearly additional studies are needed to investigate if the mechanisms involved are similar and whether cannabinoids can be used to treat Covid-19 relate

Prakash Nagarkatti, co-author of the study, explained to The State: “The underlying mechanism is your immune system goes haywire and starts destroying your lungs and all your other organs.

“It’s like a car where you’re putting on a lot of accelerator, but the brakes aren’t working. Basically what’s going to happen is your car is going to crash because you can’t stop it. And that’s basically what’s happening with ARDS.”

The researchers did stress however that further research is needed and they are not encouraging people to use marijuana as a means to self-medicate.

Despite being blown away by the effectiveness of THC, Nagarkatti explained there’s no FDA-approved drug that treats ARDS right now.

He added: “I just want to make sure our research is not interpreted as marijuana is good for Covid-19. If you start using THC early on it might worsen the effect because it suppresses the immune system.”

This is not the first time weed has been looked at when it comes to treating Covid-19. In July a study from the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University found cannabidiol, or CBD, (the bit that doesn’t cause the ‘high’) can reduce the body’s harmful response to coronavirus.

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