A study published this month in the Journal of Cannabis Research provides further evidence that cannabis could be helpful in treating severe late-stage Covid-19.
Current treatments for Covid, such as Pfizer’s Paxlovid, are effective primarily in the early course of the disease and work by impeding the virus’s replication.
However, in severe cases of Covid which have already progressed, the problem is less about limiting virus replication and more about controlling the severe over-reaction of the immune system, known as a cytokine storm. Here treatment options are limited.
Cannabis, however, may be helpful. The study – which was not a trial of cannabis as a treatment but simply looked at the outcomes of cannabis users as against non-users – found that active cannabis users not only had lower rates of severe outcomes associated with Covid, but more importantly they had statistically significant lower rates of inflammatory markers (such as C-reactive protein, ferritin, and D-dimer) upon admission to hospital.
Previous research in the lab has shown that cannabinoids can help tame the cytokine storm, but these new results go further, providing clinical evidence in humans of the potential of cannabis as a therapeutic agent to calm an overactive immune response arising from infection.
While the study is small and relies on a retrospective approach, which can be prone to bias, the results are encouraging. They help to establish cannabis not only as a potential Covid therapy but beyond that as an immunomodulatory agent that might have use in treating other conditions.
One particularly interesting note is that the protective effects of cannabis for Covid patients persisted despite the fact taht cannabis users are five times more likely than non-users to smoke tobacco, a behaviour generally associated with worse Covid outcomes.
– Clayton Hale CBD-Intel contributing writer
Photo: Navy Medicine