Public health officials have lamented the rush to locate a reliable Covid-19 treatment has led to “desperation science,” marked by maverick experimentation and faulty research. And while skeptics may lump cannabis in with that description, early trial results indicate otherwise.
We previously reported that several Israeli companies were exploring what role CBD and cannabis terpenes could play in fighting the coronavirus. Researchers reported that CBD’s anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties might provide key resistance against the coronavirus. It has to do with the cytokine storm caused by Covid-19, which results in an inflammation hurricane in your respiratory system.
Your immune system can overreact and your lungs can shut down in severe cases. The few therapeutic treatments that have worked, according to researchers in this month’s issue of Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, have caused adverse side effects including pancreatitis and increased risk of heart disease. The researchers noted that CBD’s anti-inflammatory capabilities documented in previous studies are worthy of further exploration.
But Israeli researchers have found that combining CBD with cannabis terpenes could lead to far better results than CBD alone. Terpenes are known to provide marijuana’s aromatic properties, but also have shown therapeutic benefits on their own. According to Forbes, the Israeli study found a combination of CBD and terpenes was three time more effective in stopping inflammation run amok compared to the corticosteroid dexamethasone.
A recent study promoted by the World Health Organization just reported that dexamethasone, a cheap steroid, improved a coronavirus patient’s chance of survival. Dexamethasone reduced deaths by 36% among patients that needed breathing machines. The risk of death for those who only needed supplemental oxygen dropped 18%.
Israeli researchers in laboratory settings, meanwhile, tested dexamethasone against CBD treatment and a combined CBD and terpene formula. Dexamethasone inhibited cytokine activity by about 30%. On the other hand, the combined CBD and terpene formula inhibited about 90% of cytokines. Using CBD or terpenes alone resulted in a 75-80% reduction in cytokines.
“The preliminary results were highly positive,” Nadav Eyal, lead researcher and data scientist, told Forbes. He added that they’re “demonstrating significant anti-inflammatory activity of terpenes and breaking the perception that terpenes are just flavorings and fragrances compounds with a placebo effect.”
Of note: This is still a clinical trial and it’s important not to crown CBD and terpenes as the coronavirus savior just yet. The study still requires completion and publication in a peer-reviewed journal before it becomes a widespread therapeutic treatment. But these early results do showcase cannabis as a possible and useful tool against COVID-19.