Key takeaways.

  • TL;DR?

    Two Canadian researchers think they have stumbled upon a strain of cannabis that can be used in the prevention of COVID-19.

  • How can cannabis prevent COVID-19?

    By modulating certain receptors in respiratory tissues, cannabis might prevent COVID-19 from entering the body.

  • Does that mean cannabis can be used for COVID-19 prevention?

    Unfortunately, no. It’s all still a theory and before any medical claim can be made, the researchers have to be able to provide it on a large-scale study.

  • Does every kind of cannabis have this effect?

    No — the researchers pointed out that certain strains of cannabis might even make it worse. Only certain strains show this effect on COVID-19.

Two Canadian researchers have been hitting the laboratory breeding two strains of cannabis that they believe might be valuable in the fight against COVID-19. Interestingly, the two researchers were developing this strain for its potential to fight cancer, but when coronavirus plagued the world, they wondered if it might have any COVID-fighting abilities.

The pair worked off already existing research that scientists were doing on cannabis and its role in COVID-19. After seeing this research, they delved deeper into their own strain and found that cannabis might block coronavirus from entering a person’s body.

Olga and Igor Kovalchuck’s research.

An image of a person holding a cannabis plant with large leaves and flowers.
@mrstache_genetics

Olga and Igor Kovalchuck published their research in April, 2019. The pair started with the overall understanding of how coronaviruses like COVID-19 enter a human body. Like with a lot of respiratory pathogens, the entrance of the pathogen is receptor-mediated. By tricking a receptor on a cell somewhere in the respiratory tract, the virus gets into the cell, starts replicating, and makes a person sick. 

“It uses receptor-mediated entry into the human host via angiotensin-converting enzyme II (ACE2) that is expressed in lung tissue, as well as oral and nasal mucosa, kidney, testes, and the gastrointestinal tract,” write Olga and Igor in the research paper.

Therefore, they arrived at the hypothesis that modulating the levels of ACE2 expression in the target tissues of the virus might be a strategy through which COVID-19 can be prevented.

What’s cannabis got to do with it?

Olga and Igor’s extensive research into cannabis and its immune modulating effects (since this is a big player in cancer) put cannabis in the spotlight as a potential way to achieve ACE2 expression modulation. 

Essentially, high-CBD cannabis has been hypothesized as a modulator of gene expression and especially inflammation. With this hypothesis, the pair of Canadian researchers arrived at the possibility that cannabis might help to reduce ACE2 expression, thereby giving COVID-19 less of a chance to enter a person’s body.

Together under the Health Canada act, the pair of Canadian researchers have developed over 800 strains of cannabis and produced cannabis extracts for all of them. And they think that at least one of them might be a great candidate for COVID-19 prevention.

It’s still just a theory.

A collage art of bernie sanders sitting on a nugget of cannabis.
@cannacaveokc

The hypothesis is strong and so is the supporting research, but it’s still just a theory. The pair will have to get approval to manufacture a successful strain and then study it on a larger scale to be able to confirm their findings.

On top of this, they also point out that not all cannabis could have that effect. Just like some strains make you sleepy and others, energetic, it’s possible for some strains of cannabis to actually make things worse. 

Pending further research of their novel, high-CBD strains, Igor and Olga Kovalchuck’s research could essentially form a safe and effective adjunct therapy for COVID-19. They speculate that the products will be used as a form of mouthwash or throat gargle to target the specific tissues involved in COVID-19 illness.

It’s more likely that the vaccine is going to arrive at the table long before a cannabis-COVID treatment regime. Nonetheless, it’s always fun and exciting to hear about the medical potential of cannabis. It never ceases to amaze!

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