What if consuming cannabis, specifically hemp, protected you from COVID? The entire globe has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and the sickness, death, and economic hardship that it has visited upon all of us. With over 358 million documented cases resulting in over 5.6 million tragic deaths worldwide, medical experts around the world have made fighting the virus a top priority.
As science races to find treatments and ways to prevent further infection, no stone is left unturned. So naturally, cannabis users wonder if cannabis could offer some protection or treatment benefits. Recent findings shed light on the issue and could have global ramifications in the ongoing fight against COVID-19.
Certainly cannabis use remains a controversial topic for several reasons. Its psychoactive potential is a big one. The illegal drug trade that supplies it to the masses is another (despite some U.S. states have legalized cannabis possession and commercial sale).
As cannabis becomes more widely legalized in the U.S., there will come more studies, because scientists are trying to better understand its effects—on individuals and society as a whole. But with legal stipulations doing research challenging to conduct, it has remained largely a mystery to the scientific community.
Cannabis & Marijuana
There are two compounds of the cannabis plant that people are most interested in, CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). For reference, the cannabis plant makes a substance full of pounds called cannabinoids, which causes your body to have natural pharmaceutical reactions.
Marijuana and hemp both contain THC and CBD; the critical thing to note is that marijuana contains more THC, with hemp containing higher concentrations of CBD. So, what’s the difference between THC and CBD?
As noted, CBD and THC are compounds found in the same plant family, but each has specific properties that separate them. For example, CBD is non-psychoactive and most well known for its therapeutic benefits, while THC is psychoactive and mainly used recreationally - though, there has been some science conducted on its potential health benefits. Want to learn more? Continue reading to learn about how cannabis and CBD can be effective in this worldwide fight against COVID.
COVID & the Science
Scientists are researching if cannabinoids could play a role in treating and preventing the SARS-CoV2 virus. They find that this virus has a spiked protein shape and will bind to the protein receptors in our lungs.
It also has been found that cannabinoids have an affinity for this protein shape. Just how? Well, hemp chemical compounds like cannabinoids will bind to SAR-CoV2, which prevents infection by blocking them from entering into human cells. Cannabidiol acid (CBDA) and cannabigerol acid (CBGA) are the two that are proving to be the most effective.
Scientists are finding that people are not becoming infected because the COVID-19 virus can’t bind to cells. As an aside, it has been hypothesized that this might mean that cannabinoids, isolated or in hemp extract, could potentially address existing COVID-19 infections.
Turning To Cannabis For Mental Health
Covid-19 has and is taking a toll on mental health for many individuals. Whether you are a front-line worker, working in the school systems, or an everyday citizen, the stress of this virus is taking a severe toll on mental health.
The CDC shows that COVID and the pandemic have caused challenging mental health issues like anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation. It’s a perfect storm of causes affecting almost everyone’s mental health safety.
In addition to the plant’s physical benefits like relieving pain and inflammation, there are many therapeutic benefits to consuming CBD and THC. You can use the plant to ease the psychological stressors that we face on a day-to-day basis.
Many feel isolated from their friends and family, which can lead to anxiety and depression. The effects of the cannabis plant, specifically CBD, have been proven to help alleviate anxiety, stress, and even PTSD.
CBD as an Immune Booster Many users of CBD will brag about CBD’s natural immune system boosting properties, but at this time there is no factual evidence for this.
Since we were little, it has been ingrained in us to know that eating healthy and getting plenty of sleep will help our bodies fight against viruses and diseases. Normally, if you are not ill, the immune system does not need a boost. Since the start of this pandemic, whether you are a frontline worker, a parent who has had to live with the uncertainty of school and if you can go to work, or someone who is unemployed as a result of the pandemic, everyone is under some sort of stress.
CBD has qualities that will be therapeutic and aid in falling asleep. CBD can ease the mind from the worries of COVID, school and work (or lack of), and allow you to get the rest that you need to keep your immune system in check.
Remember things like smoking and drinking could be a factor in suppressing your immune system, and you might want to avoid those as they are known to cause weakness in our system. The Bottom Line Much more research is needed, of course. Especially since cannabis seems generally safe for human consumption and is becoming more widely available, further scientific exploration is warranted.
However, don’t let eagerness to overcome the burdens imposed by COVID-19 and to resume at least some sense of normalcy cause you to put the proverbial cart before the horse. If you do not currently use cannabis or CBD products, this study is not a rationale for starting. Take your time and do your research. As with anything, if you do decide to use CBD to aid in your fight against COVID, realize it’s a therapeutic fight; one that we all still need, just do not rely on it to prevent COVID. While using CBD it’s also important to test regularly, wash your hands, and keep your distance from contagious people. If necessary, try to use your CBD to combat any stress associated with maintaining these healthy habits.
No one is saying if you smoke cannabis, you will not get COVID-19 yet. But there are studies that are undoubtedly intriguing and could be a step in the right direction for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19. Talk to your doctor before trying any new substance, and remember that cannabis is still illegal federally and recreationally legal only in 18 states.