Cannabis May Help Prevent Deadly Lung Problems Linked To COVID-19
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Fighting severe complications of COVID-19 may soon be added to the list of health benefits of cannabis. Researchers have found that one of the cannabinoids could help prevent a potentially deadly lung disorder linked with the coronavirus disease, influenza and other infections.
The new study, published in Frontiers In Pharmacology, shows the new positive effect Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The main psychoactive component of cannabis appeared protecting the lungs in the lab by reducing inflammation caused by an infection.
Researchers tested the effects of cannabis on acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), which affects over 3 million people worldwide every year. It could lead to rapid inflammation, shortness of breath and bluish skin and even death, IFLScience reported.
The COVID-19 pandemic is expected to increase the number of people suffering from ARDS.
Complications also come with a significant increase in signals in the lungs called a cytokine storm.
The immune system releases cytokines when the body is under attack from infection. These small messengers can either guide the body to react to the site of infection with immune cells or slow the reaction and prevent immune cells from damaging the affected area too much.
In people with COVID-19 and other respiratory diseases, cytokines can become pro-inflammatory. That could put the patients at high risk of hyperinflammation and possible death.
To see if cannabis could help prevent that problem, researchers focused on the anti-inflammatory effects of THC. The team provided the drug to mice with ARDS to see if it could help stop inflammation in the lungs.
Results showed that 100 percent of cases or all animal subjects were able to avoid lethal symptoms after taking THC. The drug helped prevent severe damage in the lungs by blocking pro-inflammatory cytokines and slowing down any inflammation.
ARDS has been a serious problem around the world. The study is expected to guide future efforts in utilizing cannabis to help manage lung diseases or infections.
However, it is important to know that the initial findings came from tests with mice. More studies are needed to further understand how THC works against respiratory diseases and if it would deliver the same benefits to human patients.