University of South Carolina researchers now believe marijuana’s THC could be effective against battling symptoms caused by the coronavirus based on a trio of studies. In each study, THC helped prevent a deadly immune system response that causes acute respiratory syndrome (ARDS) and boosted healthy lung bacteria.
The studies were published in Frontiers in Pharmacology, the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, and the British Journal of Pharmacology. ARDS is considered a serious, potentially deadly illness and causes the lungs not to provide enough oxygen to the body’s organs. This results in fluids entering the lungs, compounding the lack of oxygen throughout internal systems. The mortality rate of ARDS is 38.5%.
But when scientists injected THC into mice with ARDS, they were shocked to find how effective the cannabinoids was in reducing inflammation and related symptoms. Over the three studies that included over a dozen of experiments, 100% of mice given THC survived.
“We have been working on cannabinoids for over 20 years and found that cannabinoids such as THC are highly anti-inflammatory,” study co-author Prakash Nagarkatti said. “Thus, our studies raise the exciting suggestion to test THC against ARDS seen in COVID-19 patients.”
When a coronavirus patients suffers from ARDS, it can produce the body to flood the organ with cytokines, or “communication molecules.” These “cytokine storms” can cause rapid onset inflammation and provide multi-organ failure resulting in death. But South Carolina researchers described THC as a “potent anti-inflammatory agent” and prevented potential lung damage.
Currently, there are no FDA-approved drugs to treat ARDS because of which the mortality rate is close to 40%,” said study co-author Mitzi Nagarkatti. “Our studies suggest that THC is highly effective to treat ARDS and thus, clinical trials are critical to investigate if this works.”
This is the first work by American researchers that positively notes the cannabis plant’s therapeutic value against COVID-19. Previous studies from Israel, however, reported in early clinical trials that a combination of cannabis terpenes and CBD were outperforming the leading COVID-19 treatment in reducing coronavirus-related inflammation.