Cannabis and novel coronavirus, A Comprehensive Guide
As the threat of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, rises to a global degree, the search for possible treatments has never been more crucial. All over the world, scientists are racing to come up with new medicines that will help slow the spread of the virus, relieve COVID-19 symptoms, and cure serious medical cases brought by the pandemic.
However, while a myriad of clinical trials is currently on the works, it remains nearly impossible to provide a definite date on when an effective treatment can be ready. Because of this, many can’t help but find themselves in desperate need to seek immediate remedies while the search for a cure is still ongoing.
Cannabis, in particular, has been getting a lot of attention lately, especially with loads of medical promises being linked to the drug for the past years. With its popularity in the modern market, especially its chemical compound called CBD, many can’t help but assume that the drug may, somehow, hold the possible treatment that the world has been collectively searching for.
Here, we have prepared a comprehensive discussion that will help you draw the line between the truth and fiction surrounding discussions on cannabis and COVID-19. Is marijuana really a potential cure for the novel coronavirus? How can marijuana use affect the body amid the ongoing world crisis? Below, we have rounded up everything you need to know that will guide you through this pandemic.
Understanding COVID-19 – What Exactly Is It?
To simply explain, coronaviruses refer to a large family of viruses that cause diseases usually ranging from mild to moderate upper-respiratory tract illnesses. Generally, there are hundreds of coronaviruses found to be in existence and most of them are circulating only among animals, such as pigs, camels, bats, and more. However, among these hundreds of coronaviruses, seven are known to cause human diseases. Specifically, they are the 229E, OC43, NL63, HKU, SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome), MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome), and lastly, SARS-CoV2.
Though some are considered only to be mild, such as 229E, OC43, NL63, and HKU, the other three, which includes SARS, MERS, and SARS-CoV2 could be severe, even fatal.
The last one, in particular, called SARS-CoV2 is the virus that causes COVID-19. It was a novel virus and was only discovered in 2019, while investigating an outbreak in Wuhan, China. Similar to other deadly two members of the coronavirus family, SARS and MERS, COVID-19 can cause pneumonia-like symptoms and had probably emerged from an animal source and is now transmittable from person to person.
However, compared to SARS and MERS, COVID-19 has proven itself to be a lot deadlier. In fact, the disease surpassed the number of people who fell ill and excerdied due to the first two coronaviruses within two months. Due to its quick spread and the swelling number of cases, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 to be pandemic in March of 2020, describing it even to be “the defining global health crisis of our time.”
Among its common symptoms include fever, cough, shortness of breath, and sore throat. In severe cases, a patient can suffer from pneumonia and multi-organ failure, which can lead to death.
Upsettingly, since the disease is described to be viral pneumonia, antibiotics against flu will be ineffective against the virus. As of to date, study about COVID-19 is still progressing and no vaccine has been found yet that will help protect the public from the deadly disease.
However, medical experts have advised the public to maintain social distancing, keep regular hand hygiene, and stay at home to slow the spread of the virus.
Cannabis in Question: How Does It Relate to COVID-19?
Over the years, it cannot be denied that cannabis has gone through a dramatic evolution. What was once considered to be a cursed drug that hides only in the shadows of the underground has emerged to become a billion-dollar industry that promises a range of medical and therapeutic potentials. Thanks to cannabidiol (CBD), one of the chemical compounds found in the cannabis plant, the medical community has found a way to take advantage of marijuana’s medical promises without risking their patients getting “high.”
To date, with the ongoing health crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, many can’t help but to turn their heads to cannabis as the potential treatment the world is searching for. Many CBD and cannabis advocates, in particular, are claiming that consumption of the drug has helped strengthen their immune system. Meanwhile, some online sellers are promoting their products as effective remedies that will help prevent or fight coronavirus infection. Because of this, many can’t help but to question how does marijuana, actually, link to COVID-19.
Does the drug, indeed, help in boosting one’s immunity that will protect the body from the novel coronavirus? Or will the use of cannabis, instead, put one at greater risk in the face of an ongoing health crisis?
Generally, as of to date, no study has yet been made that suggests the real relationship of cannabis, or even CBD, to coronaviruses.
Dani Gordon, a Canadian doctor, posted an article online tackling this issue.
“As for CBD and cannabis, we don’t have any studies showing it has any effect on the coronavirus, although there are some interesting studies on medical cannabis and smoked cannabis use and HIV progression,” she clarified in a post titled “Can Cannabis & CBD Affect Corona Virus?”
“For me, as both a cannabis specialist and doctor trained in natural medicine and western medicine it’s important to let people know the facts and be totally honest about what we don’t know. It’s also critical not to make false claims when we are all understandably a bit scared and of course want to do everything we can to protect ourselves and our loved ones,” she continued.
In another article, Dr. Andy Yates, a science lead at the Association for the Cannabinoid Industry, told Food Navigator that there is no evidence demonstrating that CBD can alter the course of the coronavirus.
“There is currently absolutely no evidence that CBD can play any role in altering the course of coronavirus (COVID-19) disease and I would strongly urge the CBD industry to stay far away from making any suggestion, however subtle, that it does,” he explained.
With these comments from medical experts, it is safe to say that any article providing even the subtlest claim that cannabis or CBD can help protect you from the spread of COVID-19 has still not been proven by medical science and still begs for validation.
Common Claims You Will Found Online – And the Truth Behind Them
Of course, existing claims about CBD’s potential in treating or fighting Covid-19 stemmed from something, with most of them finding roots in a few already existing theories about the effects of cannabidiol.
For your convenience, we have compiled the common claims you may find online and what really is the truth behind each of them.
Take a look:
- Claim #1: CBD’s anti-inflammatory effect could help relieve COVID-19 symptoms
You might have already heard about CBD’s anti-inflammatory promises. As of to date, current studies surrounding cannabidiol suggest that the compound demonstrates potentials in reducing inflammation through several pathways in the body and therefore, can be seen as a possible treatment for a number of inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.
Because of this promise, many can’t help but to assume that CBD will come as an effective medication to manage fevers and relieve aches and pains associated with COVID-19. Sure, while it’s true that CBD, indeed, poses anti-inflammatory promises, it still cannot be taken as a potential treatment for coronavirus.
In fact, the latest development in the study of COVID-19 suggests that the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, could possibly worsen COVID-19. While there is still no clear evidence of this, some lab experiments show that NSAIDs may increase the amount of ACE2 receptors, or the enzyme the virus uses to infect cells in the body.
“There are some clinical observations of small numbers of patients that suggest ibuprofen could slow recovery from bacterial pneumonias or make some viral infections like chickenpox more severe, but these aren’t careful prospective scientific studies,” explained Dr. Otto O. Yang, a professor at the David Geffen School of Medicine, in an interview with Healthline.
To date, due to the lack of scientific evidence, the suggestion that NSAIDs can possibly worsen COVID-19 is still described to be “mostly theoretical.” As of the moment, however, the FDA suggests to the public to speak with their health care professional and asked about possible treatment options other than NSAID if they are concerned and not comfortable in taking ibuprofen and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
With this ongoing debate, it is safe to apply the same precautionary measure to CBD, especially since various studies have already suggested that it demonstrates anti-inflammatory effects to the body.
Claim #2: CBD can boost your immune system and protect you from the virus
Perhaps, this is the most common claim you can come upon online when searching about coronavirus and CBD. Sure, similar to the case of CBD’s anti-inflammatory potentials, various studies have already been conducted that had suggested CBD’s role in immune system support.
Specifically, CBD’s relationship with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS) is the main reason behind this. While experts are still trying to fully understand ECS (its existence has only been discovered recently, specifically in the early 1990s), recent studies have already shown that this body system plays vital roles in metabolism, mood, nerve functions, as well as inflammation and other immune system responses, which all contribute to homeostasis.
With this knowledge, people are assuming that CBD can help boost one’s immune system and is, therefore, essential in fighting the spread of COVID-19.
However, as stated earlier, since it remains true that there is still “zero evidence” on the ability of CBD or marijuana to help people boost their body’s immunity against COVID-19, this claim remains to be largely questionable and lacks scientific proof.
Some Words to Remember
As the threat of COVID-19 continues to expand, knowing what’s fact from fiction comes as one of the best weapons you can have.
If you’re a CBD or marijuana enthusiast, be sure to practice precautionary measures when buying and consuming any cannabis-infused products.
For your safety, here are a few things you need to take note of:
- Now is not the time for sharing.
Sure, while cannabis is most enjoyed when shared with your friends, the current global condition necessitates that marijuana users must ditch the communal culture for a while and maintain the required six feet of distance between others to prevent the possibility of virus transmission
However, if you’re aching to spend your marijuana time chatting with your favorite pals, you may turn to online communication, such as Skype, FaceTime, or Zoom, instead.
- Trust only the experts.
When it comes to health matters, experts are the ones you should only trust. While it’s easy to read articles discussing CBD’s health potential in fighting coronavirus anytime, reaching out to licensed medical professionals is still the best way to validate whether the claims you have read are true.
- Buy only from trusted sellers
With the imposition of home quarantine policy in different parts of the world, it’s normal for the demand for CBD product delivery to swell. Along with this increase, different scammers are also expected to emerge to take advantage of the situation. To avoid falling victims to these types of criminals, the best option you could do is to buy only in trusted cannabis retailers. For a quick guide, you can also check out our list of reliable CBD sellers here.
The Bottom Line
In times of health crisis, anyone would love to find the immediate “cure” that will save them from the depths of a deadly disease. However, are the supposed “treatments” you are getting living up to their promises?
Don’t let yourself become a victim of misinformation. Distinguish facts from fiction. Browse through our website and learn more about marijuana, cannabis events and many more!