Top researchers at the University of South Carolina say THC may be effective at quelling cytokine storms, a potentially fatal symptom of the coronavirus, The State reports.
The cytokine storm symptoms, known as Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS), essentially hijack the body’s immune system to use it against itself. Coronavirus patients are most frequently hospitalized due to COVID-19-related ARDS.
“The underlying mechanism is your immune system goes haywire and starts destroying your lungs and all your other organs,” said Prakash Nagarkatti, the study’s co-author.
According to the study, researchers were able to trigger ARDS among lab mice, which they then injected with THC. The researchers conducted dozens of such experiments across three separate studies and reported that 100% of the mice who were given THC survived the frequently fatal symptoms.
There is not currently an FDA-approved treatment for ARDS and Nagarkatti said that, based on the successful results with mice, he has recommended health officials begin human trials with THC. He warned, however, the research does not suggest that smoking cannabis might be beneficial for COVID-19 patients.
“I just want to make sure our research is not interpreted as marijuana is good for COVID 19,” said Nagarkatti. “If you start using THC early on it might worsen the effect because it suppresses the immune system.”
Cannabis advocates have called for more research and warned consumers to watch out for overzealous cannabinoid marketers.
“The data at this point is preliminary at best and the public needs to be vigilant against predatory marketers prematurely hailing certain cannabis or CBD-specific products as supposed COVID treatments or cure-alls.” — NORML spokesperson Paul Armentano, via The State.
Previously, pre-print studies (studies that were published before being peer-reviewed) have suggested that certain cannabinoid extracts and terpene solutions could prove effective at mitigating the COVID-19 cytokine storm symptoms.