This team, which includes Olga and Igor Kovalchuk, has long been studying the effects on cannabis on the body as well as developing new hybrids and extracts that contain therapeutic properties. When COVID-19 started spreading, Olga Kovalchuk decided to take a look at their current findings to see if there’s any way they could use cannabis in fighting the disease.
In April, they submitted a paper that focuses on the anti-inflammatory properties of certain cannabis plants with high CBD and how these could be used as a preventive measure for COVID-19. The research team found that high CBD cannabis extracts can “modulate the levels of receptors in highly relevant tissues such as the mouth, lungs, and intestinal cells.”
With the knowledge that the virus needs proteins or receptors, to enter the body, the team saw that a particular receptor, ACE2, has been defined as a key gateway to how COVID-19 enters the body. Developing over 800 Sativa lines and extracts, they came to a hypothesis that extracts with high CBD may affect the ACE2 and help block the pathway the virus uses to contaminate the body. Igor Kovalchuk says that there’s a potential of reducing the infection rate by 70 to 80 percent.
“Imagine a cell being a large building,” says Igor, “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.”
Early findings suggest that cannabis extracts can be administered using inhalers, mouth wash, or gargle products that can be administered both at home and at a clinic or hospital. These will help aid in decreasing the virus’ possible entry points in the human body.
Despite their findings, the team says that there’s still a lot more work to be done in terms of research. The findings they have are currently based on human tissue models. To further see its effect, the next step would have to be clinical trials which is something the team is actively pursuing.
The team also stresses that they haven’t tested the effects of smoking cannabis and that strains with high enough CBD can not be found in stores. It’s worth noting that the strains the team used had very high concentrations of CBD but very low levels of THC, so users will not experience the usual “high” associated with cannabis.