Canadian scientists at the University of Lethbridge have preliminary evidence that cannabis may block COVID-19 infection. At this time, this is only a test-tube study, but the results look promising as they indicate that certain cannabis strains can reduce by 73% the receptor ACE2 (receptor the virus uses to enter cells). This means the chance of getting infected is much lower.
At this time, the researchers have not identified what the ideal ratio is of THC to CBD, or if the active ingredient is CBD or a combination of other cannabis components.
In addition to the Canadians, Israeli researchers at Tel Aviv University have started research in patients to determine whether CBD can be used as a treatment to repair damage to cells caused by COVID-19. The basis for the studies is the known anti-inflammatory properties of CBD. One of the studies uses new cell technology to deliver the CBD directly into damaged cells by inhalation. Another study is combining steroids and CBD to see if the combination is superior to steroids alone to treat the inflammation that becomes out of control, killing patients.
In addition, another study, at the Israel Institute of Technology, is looking at terpenes, another component of cannabis. In previous research related to the epidemic of SARS in 2002, it was discovered that when specific terpenes came into contact with the SARS virus, they were found to reduce its severity, both in the test tube and in human studies. The mode of action involved the withholding of a certain protein that replicates the RNA. The formulation currently being studied is for inhalation.
Although this research is new, the potential of cannabis to prevent and treat COVID-19 is powerful, and will be added to the long list of known benefits of cannabis in healthcare.