Category Archives: Medical Marijuana

Cannabis can help fight coronavirus, study says

Cannabis could be a new weapon in the fight against the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19), researchers say. A new study by scientists at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta says that cannabidiol (CBD) — the main non-psychoactive component of marijuana — can help fight the coronavirus by lowering the number of cell receptors available for the latter to attach to.

“There’s a lot of documented information about cannabis in cancer, cannabis in inflammation, anxiety, obesity and whatnot,” said Dr. Igor Kovalchuk, who co-authored the study alongside his wife, Dr. Olga Kovalchuck, and a team of other researchers from Lethbridge. “When COVID-19 started, Olga had the idea to revisit our data, and see if we can utilize it for COVID.”

“It was like a joker card, you know, coronavirus. It just mixes up everybody’s plans,” Olga added.

The Kovalchuks’ have been working with cannabis since 2015, using varieties from around the world to create new hybrids and develop extracts that demonstrate certain therapeutic properties.

CBD reduces available ACE2 receptors for the virus to latch on to

For the study, published in pre-peer review server Preprints, the researchers partnered with cannabis therapy research company Pathway Rx — of which Igor Kovalchuck is the CEO — and cannabinoid-based research company Swysh.

The team created 3D tissue models with human oral, mucociliary and intestinal tissues and tested them with different samples of high CBD extracts. The extracts were low in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. (Related: CBD vs. coronavirus? Potential natural remedies that promote immunity.)

With this setup, the researchers then observed the effect that the extracts had on angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), the receptor that the virus uses to enter human cells.

The results of the researchers’ tests demonstrated that the extracts helped reduce the number of these receptors that the coronavirus could use to “hijack” host cells.

“A number of them have reduced the number of [ACE2] receptors by 73 percent, the chance of it getting in is much lower,” stated Igor.

“If they can reduce the number of receptors, there’s much less chance of getting infected,” he added.

In addition to ACE2, the researchers also looked into other receptors such as transmembrane serine protease 2 (TMPRSS2), which allows the virus to invade cells more easily and multiply quickly.

“Imagine a cell being a large building,” explained Kovalchuk to CTV News. “Cannabinoids decrease the number of doors in the building by, say, 70 percent, so it means the level of entry will be restricted. So, therefore, you have more chance to fight it.”

Clinical trials still needed but exploring therapeutic options is important

The researchers’ early findings indicate that the CBD extracts could be used in inhalers, mouthwash and throat gargle products for both clinical and home treatment.

However, they say that people looking for CBD extracts to fight the coronavirus won’t be able to do so at their local dispensaries yet. They state that the current medical cannabis and CBD products, while helpful for a lot of ailments, are not designed to treat or prevent infection from COVID-19.

“The key thing is not that any cannabis you would pick up at the store will do the trick,” said Olga.

With this in mind, the researchers are now actively pursuing clinical trials. They stressed that their data is already based on human tissue models, so these trials are a natural next step.

They also highlight the importance of exploring every therapeutic option when it comes to fighting the coronavirus.

“Given the current dire and rapidly developing epidemiological situation, every possible therapeutic opportunity and avenue needs to be considered.”

“We need to bring it to the people,” says Olga. “We need to fight the beast.”

Visit Pandemic.news to learn more about how health experts are learning to fight the coronavirus.

Sources include:

DailyMail.co.uk

Preprints.org

Calgary.CTVNews.ca

Study: Cannabis plant contains molecules that are 30 times more effective at reducing inflammation than aspirin

Conditions that cause chronic pain can be difficult to deal with. Severe and persistent pain not only affects a person’s ability to perform his daily tasks, it also reduces his quality of life. Often, physicians prescribe strong opioids that can block pain receptors in the brain to help patients get pain relief. However, the use of opioids comes with undesirable side effects, as well as a high risk of developing an addiction to these synthetic drugs. Therefore, scientists have expanded their search for safer and more efficient alternatives to opioids by looking into the potential of medicinal plants.

Cannabis (Cannabis sativa) is a medicinal plant widely used in the U.S. for the management of pain. Although it isn’t strong enough to relieve severe pain caused by surgery or a broken bone, the plant is effective enough to treat age-related chronic pain. Many people prefer to use cannabis as it is safer and less addictive than opioids. It is also an excellent substitute for nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which are not recommended for people with kidney problems, ulcers or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

In a recent study, researchers at the University of Guelph in Canada looked into the analgesic properties of cannabis. They focused specifically on its flavonoid content, which is made up of non-psychoactive compounds that are also present in many plant-derived human foods. The researchers reported that some of the compounds in cannabis exhibit strong anti-inflammatory properties. Two flavonoids, in particular, also known as cannflavins, showed promise as natural painkillers with very few side effects. The researchers reported their findings in an article published in the journal Phytochemistry.

Cannflavins in cannabis can fight inflammation and provide pain relief

First discovered more than three decades ago, when cannabis research was still heavily regulated, cannflavins are now well-known for their strong anti-inflammatory properties. These compounds are among the many specialized metabolites — besides psychoactive chemicals — produced by cannabis that are believed to contribute to the plant’s medicinal versatility.

In their study, Canadian researchers identified cannflavin A and cannflavin B as promising analgesic compounds exclusively produced by cannabis. They reported that the two flavonoids are synthesized via a branch point from the phenylpropanoid pathway, which is required for the production of polymers used to make plant cell walls. The phenylpropanoid pathway is also known as a rich source of phytonutrients and the starting point of flavonoid production.

According to a previous study, cannflavins A and B are 30 times more effective at reducing inflammation than aspirin. Analysis using cultured cells revealed that both compounds can inhibit the production of two pro-inflammatory mediators, namely prostaglandin E2 and leukotrienes. This led the researchers to believe that the two compounds are behind the positive effects shown by cannabis in trials where it was used to treat neuropathy pain in diabetics.

“These molecules are non-psychoactive and they target the inflammation at the source, making them ideal painkillers,” said Tariq Akhtar, a professor at the University of Guelph and senior author of the study. (Related: Cannabis could be an alternative treatment for pain and sleeping troubles.)

“Being able to offer a new pain relief option is exciting, and we are proud that our work has the potential to become a new tool in the pain relief arsenal,” added Professor Steven Rothstein, one of the co-authors of the study, who also shared a huge challenge they are currently facing.

“The problem with these molecules is they are present in cannabis at such low levels, it’s not feasible to try to engineer the cannabis plant to create more of these substances. We are now working to develop a biological system to create these molecules, which would give us the opportunity to engineer large quantities.”

HempScience.news has the latest stories about cannabis and its medicinal uses.

Sources include:

Health.Harvard.edu

Diabetes.co.uk

ScienceDirect.com

BioOne.org

NeuroscienceNews.com