The Coronavirus has been around for a few years. During this time, researchers conducted studies on a wide range of topics. A 2022 study published in the Journal of Cannabis Research explored cannabis consumption and COVID-19. Researchers found that those who consume cannabis were associated with lower COVID-19 severity among those who have been hospitalized, compared to those who do not consume.
Researchers assessed whether cannabis consumers hospitalized as a result of the Coronavirus had improved outcomes compared to non-consumers. The interest in this specific topic is the result of the immunomodulatory properties that cannabis possesses. These properties are one of the most common reasons why cannabis is consumed for medicinal purposes.
The researchers included 1831 COVID-19 patients located in one of two medical centers in Southern California. The team made use of the following factors to compare cannabis consumers and non-consumers in the study:
While the number of participants in the study is small when compared to the number of Covid-19 related hospitalizations, the indicators they used to measure outcomes are quite extensive.
The study controlled for differences such as:
All of the above-mentioned indicators are “known to be risk factors for COVID-19 mortality between cannabis users and non-users.” The team explains that the virus has claimed more than 5 million lives worldwide. Tobacco smoking is associated with more severe outcomes, but there is little “known about these outcomes in people who use cannabis products.”
In order to better understand how cannabis consumption may impact the outcomes of hospitalized Coronavirus patients, the team explains that one need to understand the immunomodulatory effects of cannabis — especially considering that “progression to more severe forms of COVID-19 may be due to manifestations of hyperinflammatory states.”
Cannabis as an immunomodulatory agent — meaning it is a substance which stimulates or suppresses the immune system. This then aids the body in fighting against infection and disease.
Another research paper that assessed cannabis as an immunomodulatory agent, explained that the compounds in cannabis have been proven to exhibit immunomodulatory properties in both humans and experimental animals. This paper states that “it is clear that THC and other cannabinoids are excellent tools for studying the mechanisms of immune modulation, especially altered susceptibility to microbial infection.”
Considering the fact that cannabis can suppress, or dampen, the immune system, Shover and team explain that this function of cannabis may “be a plausible strategy for mitigating severe disease progression,” such as that associated with the more severe forms of the Coronavirus. The researchers explain that one method of treating COVID-19 virus is through the use of pharmaceutical immunomodulators (which suppress the immune system), such as dexamethasone, tocilizumab and baricitinib.
A very small percentage (4%) of participants said they were cannabis consumers. This adds up to 69 out of the 1831 participants. The researchers found that patients who did consume cannabis were typically under the age of 44, frequent tobacco smokers, less diabetic, and had lower levels of inflammatory markers at the time they were admitted to hospital when compared to non-cannabis consumers.
Overall, cannabis consumers had better outcomes when compared to non-consumers. These outcomes refer to having lower NIH COVID-19 Severity Scores, shorter hospitalization periods, lower ICU admission rates as well as less need for mechanical ventilation, with no differences having been found with regards to oxygen supplementation.
The paper highlights the fact that tobacco smoking has been determined to have a detrimental relationship with COVID-19 but that their study found cannabis to have the opposite kind of relationship with the virus. They explain that their study “suggests that cannabis may actually lead to reduced severity and better outcomes despite a five-fold greater concomitant use of tobacco amongst cannabis users compared to non-users,” in their study population.
Keep in mind that the researchers made use of data contained within the clinical charts. It’s also worth nothing that their research is a retrospective analysis — meaning that their findings may be affected by inaccurate or incomplete documentation in the clinical charts.
The researchers also explain that cannabis use was self-reported during routine admission data. This means they may not have captured all current cannabis users — which makes sense considering that some people still feel the need to conceal their consumption from physicians.
The researchers warn that their study needs to be interpreted with caution given the limitations of a retrospective analysis and the small sample size of participants. Cannabis as a means of preventing and treating a coronavirus diagnosis needs to be done with caution but that the matter is receiving increased attention. There are even planned trials where cannabis will be administered to severe and critical COVID-19 infections in order to evaluate the cannabinoids as treatment.
Regardless of the limitations, cannabis consumption was associated with decreased coronavirus severity. Their study may be the first to assess the impact of cannabis on the severity of Coronavirus as well as the outcomes of those admitted to hospital, but there’s still a need for further investigation.
Therefore, individuals should not try to self-medicate with cannabis after having contracted the Coronavirus. Instead consult with their physician about including cannabis as an immunomodulatory agent in tandem with other treatment.
If you are concerned about the stance your physician has on medicinal cannabis, consider consulting one of our medical professionals at Veriheal.
Gilbert Anthony Milam Jr., American rap artist and founder/CEO of the cannabis brands Cookies and VIBES Papers, is celebrating the launch of his new Cookies store in Thailand. Gilbert, whose stage name is Berner, described the Southeast Asian nation’s first cannabis store opening as “a huge step into the global market.” Berner, who has released…
Have you wondered what the best cannabis subscription boxes are on the market today? If so, you’re not alone. Many consumers wonder which monthly box is actually worth the money, and what you can look forward to in the mail each month. There are many different types of boxes out there. Most of them only…
Chicken soup for the soul? Well, if it’s infused with cannabis, it’s going to do more than soothe the soul! Whether you consider yourself a talented cook or someone who merely enjoys dabbling with different dishes in the kitchen, this cannabis-infused chicken soup recipe will have you yearning for another spoonful after each gulp. But…
Is there anything that cannabis cannot do? As more research is conducted, the list of health benefits grows. One recent discovery indicates that the cannabinoid CBD (cannabidiol) might just be the next big thing for treating testosterone imbalances. Studies have outlined that CBD — a non-psychoactive cannabinoid, rich in anti-inflammatory and anxiolytic properties — may…
Everyone knows that alcohol, tobacco, and cannabis are three of the most commonly used substances in the world. While it is nearly impossible to measure the exact extent to which those substances are consumed, a recent study interestingly found that more Americans are now smoking cannabis than tobacco. Considering all the controversy surrounding cannabis, it…
For many people, cannabis has become the vice of choice- leaving behind alcohol and other illicit substances. Which makes sense when one…
Question: I live in a state with legal cannabis and started shopping at my local dispensary a few times a month. I’m grateful…
Question: I’m a teacher, and I start another year of teaching next week and really need your help! Over the summer I was…