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Certain pot extracts might help prevent COVID-19-related respiratory distress: Lethbridge researchers

Last Updated Jan 13, 2021 at 3:21 pm EDT

A cannabis plant is shown on Tuesday, June 26, 2018. The Supreme Cannabis Company Inc. says it has cut about 15 per cent of its workforce. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Tijana Martin

LETHBRIDGE, Alta – Researchers in Alberta have found that certain cannabis strains might help prevent COVID-19 patients from experiencing acute respiratory distress (ARDS).

The University of Lethbridge says the virus can force some people’s immune systems into overdrive to the point where the body can attack itself. In this case, the patient would need to be put on a ventilator.

But two doctors at the university suggest having a toke might slow that process down and maybe prevent it entirely.

“In this study, we identified three extracts that are very, very good strains; some strains identified in previous studies were also pretty good,” said Dr. Olga Kovalchuk.

She is working on the research along with Dr. Igor Kovalchuk and their study is currently undergoing a peer review.

“All together, we have five strains we could formulate a clinical trial on right now. We need a chance to bring it to the evidence-based medicine realm.”

The next step for the study is a clinical trial. The doctor duo is seeking partnerships and support to conduct a proper randomized control trial to see whether the addition of these extracts diminishes the severity of COVID-19 pneumonia and the storm that happens before a patient develops ARDS.

They hope that this could result in fewer hospital COVID-19 related admissions.

Olga says the specific strains she and Igor have identified seem to modulate the immune response and work to prevent the cytokine storm, which leads to ARDS, while still maintaining some of the molecules needed to fight the virus.