Certain strains of cannabis could potentially lower patients' risk of dying from coronavirus, groundbreaking research has found.
Earlier this month, scientists from the University of Lethbridge in Canada identified three strains from cannabis sativa plants that ease the “cytokine storm”.
The process is an overreaction of the body’s immune system as it attempts to combat infection, and has led to major health implications and death in Covid patients.
In the recent study, scientists exposed artificial human 3D skin to UV to increase inflammation, which was then treated with the drug.
Out of the seven used, three offered a “profound” impact of the “cytokines and pathways related to inflammation and fibrosis”.
Dr Olga Kovalchuk, who co-authored the study, is now looking for the most effective way to offer the treatment.
She told the Daily Star: “This has to be ascertained via clinical trials, and could potentially involve dosed oils/capsules, inhalers, local applications such as mouthwash, etc.
“But RCTs [randomised controlled trials] have to be designed to fully prove the clinical potential.”
Asked if it could lower the risk of dying from Covid-19, Professor Kovalchuk responded: “Yes, potentially, through their effects on cytokine storm mediators. But RCTs would be needed.”
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She and Professor Igor Kovalchuk have been working with cannabis strains for approximately four years.
At the moment, they’re involved in another clinical study with the Good Pharmaceutical Development Company and “are looking for partnerships with cannabis industry and medical centres”.
They are currently working on a mouthwash that could combat Covid-19, and early results from their research have been promising.
The pharmaceutical company’s president Dr Larry Good told CTV News: “We’ve developed a clinical score that details in a numerical way patients’ symptoms at the onset of the study.
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“Things like the presence or absence of fever, the height of the fever, the presence or absence of chest pain, shortness of breath, loss of taste and loss of smell, and we gave them a numerical score based upon the severity.
“In an interim analysis of our data, we have found a very significant reduction in that score. The average score on enrollment was a four.
“After 14 days of treatment, the average score was 0.4. So, a pretty remarkable reduction in symptoms.”
Asked if their research could bolster the argument for legalising cannabis, Dr Kovalchuk responded: “We really hope so. Medicinal potential is huge!”
The plants involved in the initial study were professionally cultivated and extracted, and the findings do not mean that smoking cannabis or using CBD oil offers protection against Covid.
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The study was peer-reviewed and published in bio-medical journal Aging.
In February, the World Health Organisation (WHO) stated: “There is no evidence that using mouthwash will protect you from infection with the new coronavirus.”
However, in November preliminary research from Cardiff University suggested that mouthwash could kill coronavirus within 30 seconds.
Scientists found “promising signs” that over-the-counter mouthwashes could tackle the disease.
While it may be able to reduce levels of Covid-19 in saliva, mouthwash cannot reach the respiratory tract or lungs and therefore could not be used as a treatment.
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