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Europe: Medical marijuana may be key to treating COVID

The COVID-19 pandemic is not showing signs of slowing down in the near future, and the vaccines are still several months away from being readily available on the public.  Furthermore, many people – especially in the United States – seem to be under the mistaken impression of what precisely vaccines are. 

Vaccines are preventative measures.  They are not a cure.

With so many healthcare professionals anxious to find some miracle pharmaceutical drug that can rid the body of the deadly virus, many scientists are looking towards more holistic alternatives found in nature.  Health Europa is now suggesting that medicinal marijuana may hold the key to an effective treatment for managing COVID symptoms, if not an ultimate cure. 

What does COVID-19 do to the body?

The coronavirus has a rather unusual surface that contains lots of little spikes that attach themselves to ACE2 receptors in the respiratory system.  If the virus happens to drill its way inside these ACE2 receptors, the virus can seize control of the healthy cell and eventually kill it. 

COVID-19 typically invades the body by way of the nose, throat, or mouth before working its way down the esophagus and into the lungs.  Unfortunately, the deeper the virus travels, the greater the number of ACE2 receptors.  And with more receptors comes an exponentially greater risk that the virus has more opportunities to breed and multiply.

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This diabolical capability is what makes COVID-19 so potentially deadly.  As the virus multiplies faster and faster after entering into the deep recesses of the lungs, a patient’s ability to breath becomes increasingly and steadily more laborious. 

For about 80 percent of people who contract the virus, the symptoms will be mild – usually involving a slight cough and perhaps a fever.  For the other 20 percent, the infection can become lethal if it is not caught early and treated properly.  In some of the most severe coronavirus cases, the symptoms begin to appear within five to seven days after infection only to increase dramatically a few days later into full-blown acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). 

How might cannabis help COVID patients?

CBD oils, otherwise known as cannabidiol, contains cannabinoids which are essential in regulating pain and inflammation.  The human body produces many of these cannabinoids naturally, such as endocannabinoids and phyto-cannabinoids.  The cannabinoid found in cannabis - THC or delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol – is also considered to be an excellent anti-inflammatory and pain management treatment.

When the COVID virus attacks the respiratory system, the body’s ability to produce these essential cannabinoids can become severely hampered.  Scientists in Europe are now theorizing that the cannabinoid of THC in marijuana can act as a sort of replacement therapy while simultaneously reducing the lung inflammation symptoms of the virus.  In theory, cannabis-based oils might improve the patient’s ability to breathe easier by reducing its capacity to replicate. 

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Several marijuana-related COVID studies are occurring around the world, but scientists’ inability to quickly obtain government approval for testing is often slowing their progress.  In Australia, for example, there are strict regulations regarding research involving THC.  Aussie scientists are currently relegated to only using CBD oils instead, but Australian CBD does not contain the much-desired cannabinoid THC and is still considered a Schedule 9 drug despite having no psychoactive properties. 

In the United States where the government restrictions are less severe, researchers at the University of South Carolina are following a similar experimental path.  In a recent study published in June 2020 in the medical journal Frontiers of Pharmacology, the co-authors have determined that THC therapies help prevent the onset of ARDS in mice by substantially increasing the production of healthy lung bacteria essential to combating the coronavirus.

“It’s like a car where you’re putting on a lot of accelerator, but the brakes aren’t working,” co-author of the study Prakash Nagarkatti told The State.  “Basically what’s going to happen is your car is going to crash because you can’t stop it. And that’s basically what’s happening with ARDS.” After conducting dozens of experiments using medical marijuana, “100% of the mice given THC survived,” said Nagarkatti.

While the final analysis involving medical cannabis as a possible treatment for COVID may take several months or even years, the knowledge could be essentially in fighting future outbreaks of new respiratory viruses in the future.  And since COVID-19 is only the 2019 version of this strange virus (the 19 in COVID-19 stands for 2019), the likelihood of another strain coming down the pike at some3 point in the future is almost certain.

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