Researchers analyzed 1,831 COVID patients then conducted a retrospective analysis. It included comparisons of the NIH COVID-19 Severity Scores as well as the requirement for supplemental oxygen, mechanical ventilation, admissions into the intensive care unit, hospitalization time, and in-hospital death among both cannabis users and non-users.
The results of the findings, which were published in the Journal of Cannabis Research, said that “cannabis consumption is associated with lower COVID-19 severity among hospitalized patients.”
The researchers added that “cannabis may actually lead to reduced disease severity and better outcomes despite a five-fold greater concomitant use of tobacco amongst cannabis users compared to non-users in our study population.”
“Cannabis users had significantly better outcomes compared to non-users as reflected in lower NIH scores (5.1 vs 6.0), shorter hospitalization (4 days vs. 6 days), lower ICU admission rates (12% vs. 31%), and less need for mechanical ventilation (6% vs. 17%),” reads the study. “ICU admission was 12 percentage points lower and intubation rates were 6 percentage points lower in cannabis users,” it read.
“Out of the 1,831 COVID patients in the study, 69 patients reported active cannabis use, which was just 4% of the total patients,” the study says. “It is important to point out that differences in overall survival were not statistically significant between cannabis users and non-users.”
The report concludes that, “cannabis users were more likely to have lower levels of inflammatory markers at admission compared to non-users. This effect was sustained during their hospital course, with cannabis users continuing to have lower inflammatory markers compared to non-users.”
The researchers added that, “this is the first study looking at clinical outcomes of cannabis users hospitalized with COVID-19.”
What other studies say
There have been numerous studies backing the efficacy of cannabis in reducing the severity of COVID-19 over the past few months during the pandemic.
It seems that the plant’s anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties can indeed help people suffering from this horrible disease. Scientists have found that cannabis activates the CB1 and CB2 receptors within the human body’s immune and non-immune cells. As a result, the body can regulate immune response and pain more effectively, enabling the endocannabinoid system to reduce inflammation. Cannabinoids have also been found to be effective in treating and killing viruses, even treatment-resistant viruses.
A recent study published in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research discussed the potential of using CBD for treating inflammatory symptoms of the virus. The researchers analyzed papers for the study, 5 of which were in vivo while 3 were in vitro, involving human tissues. They found that CBD was effective in reducing several inflammatory cytokines while also decreasing acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).
Additionally, researchers found that CBD worked to reduce inflammatory lung infiltration, protein exudation, asthma-related inflammation, and other symptoms. Meanwhile, CBD was associated with a reduction of A2A receptors in vitro human tissue models.
Earlier in the year, researchers at the University of Oregon found that CBGA and CBDA had anti-COVID activity when studied in the lab. The study’s results, which were published in the Journal of Natural Products, revealed that both of these cannabinoids prevented SARS-CoV-2 from entering the human epithelial cells, and the authors added that the cannabinoids were equally beneficial in fighting several variants.
CBGA and CBDA can be found in high amounts in hemp plants as well as some hemp extracts. They also found that both CBD and THC were not as effective. “Orally bioavailable and with a long history of safe human use, these cannabinoids, isolated or in hemp extracts, have the potential to prevent as well as treat infection by SARS-CoV-2.”
More research needed
The current studies on COVID-19 and cannabis are definitely promising, and we need more studies to learn how to use cannabis in a smart way to manage these infections.
As consumers, we must be careful not to rely on cannabis or hemp alone for treating COVID-19, until we know more. Manufacturers can also get into trouble with the FDA if they make claims that their product can treat COVID-19. For instance, last year the FDA flagged several CBD products for making claims that they could treat it. An analysis reads: “We reviewed letters over 18 months (March 6, 2020 to August 30, 2021) sent to violating companies by the FDA’s CDER [Center for Drug Evaluation and Research]. We included letters of violations with the subject labeled as ‘Unapproved and Misbranded Products related to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).”
The researchers found that CBD was most common among products that made false claims about treating COVID-19: “Cannabidiol-related substances led the spectrum of products led the spectrum of products with unsubstantiated claims to treat COVID-19 infection…. CBD products contained false promotion and misleading claims that may have consequences to public health,” it read.
For these reasons, consumers should tread with caution and use the information to make smarter decisions. There is still a lot of fake and inaccurate information out there. If you or someone you love has contracted COVID-19, remember to still rely on the traditional protocol for managing its symptoms until there is much more research about how we can use cannabis for treating it. While there already is a lot of preclinical data supporting the efficacy of cannabinoids for COVID, there is still a dearth of actual clinical data which is needed.