How Cannabinoids Are Helping Patients With Post-COVID Recovery
Long COVID is no joke.
COVID-19 has taken countless lives worldwide, but thankfully with the vaccine, many have also been able to survive it.
However, surviving COVID-19 is not an easy feat. In many cases, the dreaded virus leaves damage in the bodies which we can feel for far long after we have tested negative. There are the usual symptoms such as dry cough, fever, colds, and shortness of breath.
The duration and severity of symptoms differs from one person to another, but there are also some people who will experience symptoms that will linger for a longer period of time. Depending on the case, the fatigue, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, chest pains, stomach pains, brain fog, muscle pain, headaches, and heart palpitations among others.
When the symptoms persist for as long as 12 weeks after the infection, this is known as long COVID, and these conditions are not yet well understood. Doctors and researchers don’t know why it happens, who it will happen to, and how to prevent it.
Of course, getting your vaccine helps reduce any complications, and a booster shot even if you have gotten COVID will also help. There is not much we can do to help treat it other than rest as much as you can, and for as long as it takes. Additionally, seeing your doctor to check for any complications will also help.
These can prevent us from going back to a normal, healthy life. But what else can we do?
How cannabis can aid in COVID recovery
The compounds in cannabis, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) have both shown to be promising in earlier studies for preventing and treating COVID. There are also hundreds of other compounds within the cannabis plant called cannabinoids, which can help.
It can also help patients recover quicker.
A study found that CBD, as well as another cannabinoid known as cannabivarin (CVN), can help treat long COVID. The researchers for the study found that when CBD and CVN are taken together, they work to downregulate the proteins known as ACE2, TSP, NRP1, and IL-6 which COVID upregulates or damages during the infection.
Another study, whose results were published in March 2021, conducted by researchers at the Rabin Medical Center analyzed the impact of CBD on 11 patients with serious COVID. Eight out of the 11 patients reported improvements in the infections. However, Dr. Moshe Yeshurun, who heads the hospital’s Bone Marrow Unit department, said that the findings required more research with a larger group of participants.
“After giving the cannabis oil we saw a drop in signs of the infection and this is definitely encouraging and gives a foundation to continue the research,” said Dr. Iliya Kagan, who oversees the Intensive Care Unit of the hospital. Kagan explains that once the CBD oil was given to the patients, it seemed to stop “although it is still premature to determine with certainty that it is a result of the cannabis.”
Another study from Austria, where doctors were using cannabis to treat COVID patients, found that CBD was promising as a treatment. “We administered CBD to 50 patients and observed that the infection levels disappeared more quickly,” said Dr. Rudolf Likar, who oversees the Department of Anesthesiology and Intensive Medicine at the Klagenfurt Hospital, the only clinic in Austria that uses CBD to treat COVID-19 patients.
He and his team began administering 200mg of CBD to ICU patients, then eventually increased the dosage up to 300MG, for three weeks. They found that the patient group who was given CBD healed from the COVID virus much faster compared to those who were given other medications.
More studies needed
They explained that CBD could be helpful in boosting the immune system because of its anti-inflammatory compounds. Their objective with COVID-19 therapy was to prevent other complications and even death.
“There is still a lot to study,” he said, saying that the early results were promising “but we need more studies and more data.”
The researchers at Oregon State University utilized a screening tool to discover these compounds, which had possessed the molecular properties they were looking for, which had the potential for blocking the spike protein of the virus from binding to a human cell.
The compounds were first tested in a petri dish with human cells. They used epithelial cells which are the cells that are found to line the walls of tissues including the lungs. Both the cannabinoids were found to reduce the ability of the protein to bind to epithelial cells which works the same way that monoclonal antibodies do, which are found in known COVID-19 treatments.
“CBDA and CBGA are produced by the hemp plant as precursors to CBD and CBG, which are familiar to many consumers. however, they are different from the acids and are not contained in hemp products,” said Richard van Breemen, lead researcher for the study. “These compounds can be taken orally and have a long history of safe use in humans,” he adds. “They have the potential to prevent as well as treat infection by SARS-CoV-2.”
While there are many studies that exist pointing to the ability of cannabis compounds to aid in COVID recovery, we have to keep in mind that many of them are still in its infancy. Add to that the fact that there’s still a lot we don’t know about how COVID mutates and reacts, but if you are interested to use CBD to aid in your recovery, it can be done under the supervision of your doctor who can advise you with the proper consumption methods for this.