Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, researchers all across the globe have been scrambling to find treatments and vaccines. The latest development on that front has pointed in a different direction than the others. Researchers in Alberta have been doing studies related to COVID-19, and cannabis extracts have apparently shown promise as an additional treatment.
The official University of Lethbridge report reads, "specific Cannabis sativa extracts show promise as an additional treatment for COVID-19."
This study was conducted in partnership with Pathway RX and Swysh. Pathway RX focuses on developing cannabis-based therapies while Swysh is focused on cannabinoid research and development.
Narcity spoke to Dr. Olga Kovalchuk, a biological sciences professor at the University of Lethbridge who explained more about her research and what implications it may have on the global health crisis.
Olga and her husband Igor have been working on studying the medicinal, anti-inflammation properties of cannabis for years. So far, they've created over 1000 strains of cannabis in their lab.
When the pandemic began, they turned to their data to see if any of their strains could hold medicinal properties to help with the prevention of COVID-19.
According to the researchers, their study brought about some unusual results regarding the prevention and treatment of the disease.
They explained that COVID-19 is able to enter your body through a number of receptors in your body.
"The virus docks to the receptors," said Kovalchuk.
So when the Kovalchuks' tested out their cannabis extracts, they found that the cannabis extracts have a capacity to "modulate" the receptors.
As a result, less of the virus breaks into the receptors and spreads throughout your body.
The Kovalchuks' took inventory of all their strains and extracts and narrowed it down to a batch of 22 extracts. Of those, 13 managed to "modulate" as they'd hoped.
Olga Kovalchuk offered us a convenient analogy to explain the phenomenon.
"Imagine a building that has 20 doors. And people want to enter through doors. And if all of a sudden, you lock 17 doors, fewer people will enter," she said.
Well, as per the study, cannabis extracts could be the magical ingredient that locks the doors.
However, Kovalchuk tells us that this has only proven to be the case in lab settings and has not been studied in clinical trials yet.
University of Lethbridge's press release mentioned that the first study has been submitted and the research has not yet been peer-reviewed or published.
Also, these are specific extracts of Sativa. She warns us that you can't just go to your local dispensary and light up a joint.
Furthermore, these extracts contained a high level of CBD and low amounts of THC. This means that intaking these extracts wouldn't produce a "high" sensation.
At this point, Olga and her team are looking for partnerships with industries and organizations that can organize a clinical trial to see how effective this treatment could be.
If these extracts were to make it into the marketplace, they'd be ideal for mouthwashes, nasal sprays, and nebulizers.
The researchers told us that this method isn't just something that could help fight COVID-19, but it could also help make symptoms milder.
"If a person picked up [COVID-19], maybe the symptoms will be milder," she said. She alerted that this is just her hypothesis based on preclinical data.
As a whole, she wants to spread the word about their research and further develop these partnerships.
"It's an opportunity for an easy prevention measure," she told us as she believes cannabis is easily accessible, affordable, and contains other health benefits.