Ever since COVID-19 started making waves across the globe, many medical marijuana users found themselves wondering whether cannabis would help or hurt during this time.
Although making the switch to edibles rather than smoking seemed to be an easy way to prevent any further respiratory stress, there were no clear answers to the cannabis and Coronavirus conundrum in the early days.
Now that we’re slowly adapting to our new normal, we now have both medical research and anecdotal evidence to illustrate how cannabis impacted the Coronavirus pandemic. Read on to uncover what we’ve learned over the last year and a half—besides how to make banana bread.
What the Research Says
Early on in the pandemic, cannabis and Coronavirus was a hot button topic. Many medical professionals are beginning to take weed seriously as a medicine, so it only made sense to see how our favorite plant impacted this new virus.
Most of the new evidence strictly focuses on CBD or terpenes from cannabis as a potential treatment for cytokine storms—the dangerous over-elevation of cytokines and inflammation that has led to the deaths of many Coronavirus patients. And yet, some research also suggests that general cannabis use might increase the risk for COVID-19 patients.
That being said, specialists say that there is truth to both outcomes. Cannabis may impact patients differently depending on how it’s used, and how severely they are infected with the virus. So what exactly is the research saying? Let’s get into a few details:
- Researchers from the University of Nebraska and the Texas Biomedical Research Institute first shared the connection between CBD and harmful cytokine storms in a peer-reviewed article in Brain, Behavior, and Immunity. Due to CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties, they determine that CBD may be able to curb these dangerous storms before they get out of hand.
- Another peer-reviewed academic study from Augusta University in Georgia tested on mice and found that CBD was able to greatly ease cytokine storms and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). Even going so far as to reverse some of the damage done to the lungs.
- A recently released Australian study found correlations between COVID-19 and the use of cannabis. The study, done by researchers at the University of Western Australia, compared cannabis use in the US with Coronavirus infection rates and found that the two were indeed related—with cannabis use tied to an increased risk of the virus.
- Dr. Peter Grinspoon, MD, a primary care physician who was trained and teaches at Harvard Medical School, explains to Forbes that the same function that makes researchers think CBD can fight off cytokine storms in severe cases of Covid-19, may make things worse for those in an earlier phase of the disease. It appears that each phase of the Coronavirus may require totally different treatments.
Like much of the research related to cannabis, more research needs to be done for conclusive evidence on the subject—and we can’t wait to see what they find.
What Medical Marijuana Patients Are Saying
While we wait for science to come up with some stone-cold evidence, one thing is for certain: People used cannabis for all kinds of reasons during quarantine. Some of the wellness benefits that cannabis users described were:
- Stress Relief: It’s no surprise that stress and anxiety went through the roof while we all dealt with the trials and tribulations of quarantine. Many people looked to weed to ease their minds and bring a bit of joy to their day.
- Mood Boost: Certain strains of cannabis are known to provide euphoria and turn that frown upside down. When things got too heavy, stoners everywhere turned to their favorite herb to lighten the mood.
- Improved Sleep: A good night’s rest is an integral part of boosting the immune system and maintaining overall health. Both new and old medical marijuana patients reached for indica-dominant strains to help them get the zzz’s they needed to stay healthy in such unprecedented times.
Although it is not entirely clear how cannabis impacted the Coronavirus pandemic, it’s clear that many found cannabis helpful in their time of need. Whether it allowed them to laugh, sleep through the night, or banish stress, weed made things just a little bit better for a lot of us.