Strong strains of cannabis with high CBD content could help prevent or treat coronavirus infections, according to a study done by scientists in Canada.
A study by Canadian researchers from the University of Lethbridge done in April found that at least 13 cannabis plants that were high in Cannabidiol (CBD) content appeared to affect the ACE2 pathways that the coronavirus uses to access the body.
According to the findings, hemp extracts that were high in CBD seemed to indicate that they may help block proteins that provide a “gateway” for COVID-19 to enter host cells.
The researchers found that cannabis seemed to reduce the virus entry points by up to 70 percent.
Researcher Igor Kovalchuk said, “There aren’t many drugs that have the potential of reducing infection by 70 to 80 percent. Therefore, you have more chances to fight it.”
The researcher said that if cannabis is shown to modulate the enzyme, it “may prove a plausible strategy for decreasing disease susceptibility” and “become a useful and safe addition to the treatment of COVID-19 as an adjunct therapy.”
Further, the researchers believe that cannabis-based products could be developed as preventative treatments.
In this study, the researchers suggested the development of “easy-to-use preventative treatments in the form of mouthwash and throat gargle products.” The study said such products have “a potential to decrease viral entry” through the mouth.
In considering over 800 varieties of cannabis, the researchers found that only a few types of cannabis plants, around thirteen, contained enough CBD to be helpful.
In fact, the plants that were the most useful were low in THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol), the principal psychoactive constituent of cannabis that produces the effect of feeling high or intoxicated.
The most effective types of cannabis were those high in CBD, which produces an anti-inflammatory effect.
“The key thing is not that any cannabis you would pick up at the store will do the trick,” said researcher Olga Kovalchuk.
It should be noted that the report has yet to be peer-reviewed and the researchers are advocating for further study.
“While our most effective extracts require further large-scale validation,” the research paper explained, “our study is crucial for the future analysis of the effects of medical cannabis on COVID-19.”
“Given the current dire and rapidly evolving epidemiological situation,” the study added, “every possible therapeutic opportunity and avenue must be considered.”