The anti-inflammatory properties of THC and CBD may help people’s bodies survive cytokine storms triggered by COVID-19.

Medical professionals around the world are rushing to understand COVID-19. While the collective effort led to modern miracles like the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccines, scientists still seek to understand why the disease causes severe symptoms for some bodies and more mild symptoms in others.

Recent studies suggest the key to understanding COVID-19 lies in our bodies’ responses to inflammation. If a body enters a “cytokine storm” as a response to the virus, the body over-produces inflammatory proteins as a defense. However, those same helpful proteins may also attack healthy cells, which in turn can lead to organ damage. Cytokine storms are basically a body’s nuclear option – effective, but indiscriminate.

Cannabis and CBD advocates have long known that cannabinoids are natural enemies of inflammation. In the past year, multiple companies explored the idea that THC and CBD might actually help treat COVID-19 symptoms by reducing the harmful side effects of a body’s cytokine storm. Groups like the University of North Carolina, STERO Biotechs, and OilsBySimpson have discovered the beneficial relationship between cannabis and cytokine storm recovery. These groups are investing in studies to determine precise methods of utilizing cannabinoids as treatments for cytokine storms, and initial conclusions are optimistic.

According to OilsBySimpson, “C.Sativa, a type of cannabis, was found in a cytokine storm study to reduce multiple cytokines and pathways related to inflammation and fibrosis. Two of the cytokines that C.Sativa reduced were TNFa and IL-6, which are thought to be the main targets when trying to block a COVID-19 cytokine storm and acute respiratory distress syndrome.”

In essence, researchers in the cannabis industry have already established a link between cannabis consumption (specifically sativa strains) and improved recovery from cytokine storms. Cannabis’s anti-inflammatory properties work within the body to limit the incidental harms caused by cytokines.

choosing a vaporizerSo, should I start smoking cannabis if I feel a cough coming on?

Smoking cannabis still carries some risk of damage to the lungs. The American Lung Association cautions that, “smoking marijuana causes chronic bronchitis and marijuana smoke has been shown to injure the cell linings of the large airways. If you’re interested in the health benefits of cannabis, other methods of ingestion like edibles and tinctures might provide a more effective and less risky treatment.

No matter what method of ingestion, if you regularly consume cannabis, you can continue to do so knowing it is unlikely to worsen your response to a virus – even COVID-19. Doctors mostly caution cannabis users to stay sober while receiving medical information for accuracy and retention.

According to Dr. Mitchell Davis, “There is no evidence to suggest that cannabis users in general have greater risk of contracting the (COVID-19) infection, and there is some preliminary evidence that it may help prevent infection.”

Dr. Davis’s observations may be based in part on a recent study conducted at the University of Chicago. Researchers there specifically studied the difference in health outcomes between COVID patients who used CBD and those who did not. “Strikingly, the incidence of SARS-CoV-2 was only 1.2% among the patients prescribed CBD, compared with 12.2% among the matched patients who had not been taking CBD.”

STERO BioTech views cannabis as a versatile tool with different benefits at different stages of the immune system response. “It is important to understand that, depending on the stage of the disease, cannabinoids could either help or harm a patient; as each phase of the disease is likely to require very different treatments.” For instance, University of Chicago’s research suggests CBD’s immune boosting power can be helpful at the onset of an illness, while Pathway Rx’s research suggests cannabis sativa can help the body weather its inflammatory responses.

Can I use cannabis to treat other inflammatory conditions?

Yes! While studies around COVID-19 and cannabis are underway, we already possess ample evidence that THC and CBD are effective, natural treatments for reducing inflammation. At least a decade of studies confirm that cannabinoids can have positive effects on the human body.

Which is better – CBD or THC in treating inflammation?

We don’t have a clear, universal answer on this yet. Both cannabinoids have anti-inflammatory properties. CBD is popular among people who don’t wish to experience psychoactive effects, and it is more readily available throughout the United States. THC is popular among people who experience central and neuropathic pain because THC reduces the perception of pain as well as the physical cause.

Are there any other reasons I should imbibe while in quarantine?

People turn to CBD and THC to treat everything from anxiety to muscle stiffness. While vaccinations and social distancing protocols have greatly reduced the spread of COVID-19, many people are choosing to stay home a little longer to further reduce their risk of infection. CBD and THC are natural substances which can help you get into that “zen” mode while you’re at home, both mentally and physically.

Ingesting cannabis at home is a relatively safe way to enjoy your space and potentially improve your body’s overall health.

Key takeaways

  • Keep doing what you’re doing! THC and CBD provide established health benefits and are unlikely to have a negative impact on your body if you do contract COVID-19.
  • THC and CBD both hold potential health benefits which reduce the impact of COVID-19 on affected patients. The full scope of their effects require further study, but current evidence is generally promising.
  • Current research suggests CBD may boost a body’s immune system, so it is most helpful at the beginning of an infection when your body is building its response to disease.

Current research suggests THC (specifically from sativa strains) may help reduce inflammation when the body enters a cytokine storm to fight infections like COVID-19. THC may be effective as a treatment in later stages of illness as the body is overwhelmed by its own defensive system.