Cannabis Versus Covid
Ever since it was first diagnosed, Covid has been a cause of global concern. The virus has shown resistance to even the strongest compounds known to mankind, and effective methods for dealing with the virus are being researched on a daily basis. However, only a few known compounds have shown promise when tested in clinics, and with the need to broaden that spectrum, another class of compounds under close speculation are Cannabinoids.
As we have stated in our previous blogs, Cannabinoids are a group of compounds present in the cannabis crop and there are a wide range of them in existence. Various cannabinoids are known for their psychoactive and medical effects after they have been taken, and this is due to their ability to bind with endocannabinoid receptors and trigger various reactions. The major cannabinoids of interest are usually CBD and THC, they are always found in high concentrations within the plant, and are also the most beneficial.
With new data emerging from research, CBD and THC are once again the center of attention in the medical space. Is Covid sensitive to the plant, can cannabis prevent corona, can it even cure the infected of the virus? Various questions have been raised and people are keeping their fingers crossed. The results, although very promising, is not quite what people have anticipated.
It has been documented that taking cannabis (marijuana) will not protect you from coronavirus, and although a lot of people have considered that those who use cannabis have better immunity against the virus, research has shown this isn't always the case. Only a particular compound in cannabis, CBD (Cannabidiol), when taken in specific doses have been shown to lessen the severity of the virus and perhaps prevent its spread.
Several publications and medical journals released in the earlier parts of February conveyed detailed experiments and various conclusions drawn by experts concerning the matter. According to one of the reports, actual people who were given regular high-potency doses of pharmaceutical-grade CBD were less likely to contact COVID-19.
The publications stated in detail that CBD, when catabolized by the human body, produces a metabolite known as 7-OH-CBD, and this metabolite can actually prevent the entry of SARS-CoV-2. Another publication showed that CBDA-or Cannabidiolic acid which is the precursor compound for CBD in cannabis prevents the entry of Covid into 'isolated human cells.'
As amazing as these findings are, they have also further strengthened the misconception that smoking of cannabis or the usage of normal-grade/ locally made CBD drops can serve as a useful tool against Covid. The many medical benefits of cannabis can't be disputed, especially since there is better understanding of the pathways by which compounds like THC and CBD function. They are known to boost immunity-protecting the healthy-and help combat several diseases, even when the only method of administration is smoking.
However, when it comes to peculiar cases like COVID-19, the casual methods of administration or normal-grade isolated cannabinoids will amount to nothing. Smoking joints, over-the-counter edibles, gummies, brownies from stores and other forms of recreational approach to taking cannabis will do nothing in combating the virus. Regardless of the dosage. Even though this is not so for other diseases.
What then is "promising" about cannabis?
If the publications caused so much ruse, and the research kept on denoting cannabis as "promising", why does it seem like the experiments have absolutely no relevance...? Are there vital pieces of information that the public seems ignorant of?
In a particular study, Marsha Rosner who was a professor of cancer research at the University of Chicago and also the lead study author, stated that of all the numerous compounds present in Cannabis, only one in particular showed anyform of interaction with the virus. Yes, just one. The compound, although it is found in very high concentrations in cannabis, it's actions against Covid are always inhibited by other compounds within the same plant, this meant that the compound was only effective when isolated from it's counterparts and prepared under very specific pharmaceutical conditions.
This compound is CBD, and it is the only major cannabinoid useful against the virus. The other compounds that showed any form of activity were either metabolites of CBD, or it's precursor which is CBDA.
According to Rosner, CBD induces the production of a series of proteins called 'interferons'. These proteins are antiviral in nature and would perform the sole purpose of preventing the entry of a virus into the cell. CBD also goes on to hinder the virus from causing more changes in the activities of the infected cell.
When specially prepared CBD was administered to infected mice at a controlled dosage, a drastic decrease In the viral loads present within the lung of the animals was recorded after about a week. The result was arguably one of the best to be recorded among the various tests performed with other compounds.
All other compounds, including the psychoactive THC, did nothing against the coronavirus. Some of them even inhibited the functioning of CBD against the virus. This and many other reasons is why cannabis, i.e., the entirety of the crop is ineffective against Covid.
So cannabis is indeed promising, but it would be erroneous for users to count themselves exempted from other medical procedures structured to cure or prevent the virus. The single compound that does the work is CBD, however, it is first isolated and prepared under specific pharmaceutical procedures. The high pharmaceutical-grade dosage, when administered, does the work.
All that is left is more research, to develop more stable variations and discover other compounds with similar perks. Until then, cannabis is merely an added layer of protection against the virus.
The cannabis plant is best known for the Cannabis Sativa and Cannabis Indica species. Once the flowering parts of the crop is dried and toned, it becomes one of the most psychoactive compounds known to mankind. This compound is also a drug that has been utilized for both medical and recreational purposes. Cannabis has since been used to generally refer to the psychoactive derivatives of Indica and Sativa alongside other slangs such as “weed”, “pot”, and “marijuana.”
What is Marijuana?
Marijuana unlike the popular opinion is not a specific strain from the cannabis family and shouldn’t be seen as such. The existing species Sativa, Indica and Ruderalis all have various strains but none of this is named Marijuana.
Marijuana like the words “weed” and “pot” are merely slang words used to refer to the cannabis plant. This means like Cannabis, Marijuana also refers to the dried leaves and flowers of the Sativa and Indica plants, it refers to the compound in whatever form it is used.
The term is believed to have originated from the Mexican-Spanish word “Marihuana”, and that it must have been adapted by ither languages before the term “Marijuana” came into existence. When it comes to medicine, medical practitioners use the term “Medical Cannabis” and “Medical Marijuana” interchangeably, especially in regions were both terms are considered legal.
What then is Hemp?
It has been scientifically proven that Hemp had been part of human lives for thousands of years, historical research has shown that a lot of civilizations have used it as food, fuel, fabric and even medicine. There is evidence that the plant had been used as far back as 9000 years ago in ancient cities for textile and also food.
Just what is Hemp…?
Hemp unlike Marijuana is an actual ‘strain’ of the Sativa plant, it has also been established that it possesses different chemical properties from all other strains of ‘cannabis’. What makes Hemp so different is that it produces a relatively smaller amount of one of the major psychoactive chemicals present in all Cannabis strains, and this chemical is THC.
Research has shown that in the USA, the ‘industrial hemp’ contains 0.3% lesser THC by dry weight when compared to other major strains. This figure is even lower than the standard 0.35% stated in places like Australia. This means that while Hemp might also contain various CBDs including THC, there is absolutely no amount taken that can provide the desired psychoactive effect.
What then is the difference between them?
Cannabis is basically the main plant, with various species Sativa, Indica and Ruderalis. These species are further divided into strains based on their chemical properties and make up. A fun fact is that the known number of strains continue to increase as farmers and cultivators are beginning to make hybrids to duplicate desirable traits and eliminate bad traits. Studying Hybrids is an entire field on its own.
Since Cannabis is basically all the major species, the term is used to refer to most forms in which the drug is administered. Marijuana is nothing but a slang used interchangeably with Cannabis on the same occasions as words like “weed” and “pot.”
Hemp is an actual strain with unique chemical properties, lacking enough THC to induce a psychoactive effect. It could be erroneously used synonymously with other strains that do not also produce the effects due to one reason or another, but Hemp is unique.
What are the chemicals in Cannabis?
Since we have established the fact that the difference between strains is their chemical properties, I believe we should take a quick look at some of the major chemicals present in the plants. (We already have an entire article about this.)
According to research, it has been established that there are over 400 chemical compounds present in Cannabis. However, a lot of this compounds are yet to be fully identified and analysed. The three compounds that are widely known are found to be derivatives of Cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids.
Flavonoids are referred to as a class of polyphenolic metabolites commonly found in plants, and this means it is commonly consumed as part of the human diet. They are known to have medical relevance as they protect the cells from oxidative damage. They can also aid against the development of Cancer, Cardiovascular diseases and even cognitive diseases like dementia. Terpenes on the other hand are aromatic compounds also found in many plants, cannabis plants contain a large concentration of terpenes and they are often responsible for its aroma and flavour. They give each strain of cannabis a characteristic smell and taste.
Finally, Cannabinoids. They are any chemical substance that can bind to the cannabinoid receptors of the body and brain. Regardless of structure or origin, compounds that are capable of similar effects are referred to as Cannabinoids.