Cannabis offers a combination of positive and negative health effects. On the plus side, new research shows cannabis improves COVID-19 outcomes. Read on to learn more about the latest discovery.
Study Shows Cannabis Improves COVID-19 Health Outcomes
The study that shows cannabis improves COVID-19 outcomes reviewed the medical records of 322,214 patients from the National Inpatient Sample, a U.S. government database that holds data on hospitalizations and outcomes. All patients were 18 and over with complete medical data on file. Only 2603 of the patients (less than 1%) admitted to cannabis use.
The study found that cannabis improves COVID-19 outcomes and mortality rates. Cannabis users who contracted the virus had more successful recoveries than those who did not use cannabis.
The results were shared at the American College of Chest Physicians (CHEST) in Honolulu, HI last week. The research was also published in the Chest Journal this month. It is entitled, “Exploring the Relationship Between Marijuana Smoking and COVID-19”.
“Marijuana smokers had better outcomes and mortality compared to non-users,” the authors wrote in the study. “The beneficial effect of marijuana use may be attributed to its potential to inhibit viral entry into cells and prevent the release of proinflammatory cytokines, thus mitigating cytokine release syndrome.”
Other Findings of the Study That Shows Cannabis Improves COVID-19 Outcomes
The study that shows cannabis improves COVID-19 outcomes also compared marijuana users and non-users based on “age, race, gender, and 17 other comorbidities including chronic lung disease.”
It revealed that cannabis users were “younger and had a higher prevalence of tobacco use”. However, patients that did not use cannabis had a high prevalence of “other comorbidities including obstructive sleep apnea, obesity, hypertension, and diabetes mellitus”.
How Cannabis Improves COVID-19 Outcomes
The research revealed that cannabis users have lower mortality than nonusers at a rate of 2.9% compared to 13.5%. People who used cannabis also had fewer COVID-19 complications like respiratory failure, intubation, and multi-organ failure.
Here are some COVID-19 complication statistics to consider.
- Intubation- cannabis users: 6.8%, non-users: 12%
- Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS): cannabis users: 2.1%, non-users: 6%
- Severe sepsis with multiorgan failure- cannabis users: 5.8%, non-users: 12%
- In-hospital cardiac arrest: cannabis users: 1.2%, non-users: 2.7%
- Mortality- cannabis users: 2.9%, non-users: 13.5%
Researchers have stated their findings call for further investigation.
“The significant decrease in mortality and complications warrants further investigation of the association between marijuana use and COVID-19,” they wrote. “Our study highlights a topic of future research for larger trials, especially considering the widespread use of marijuana.”
Other Studies That Show Cannabis Improves COVID-19 Outcomes
The recent study that shows cannabis improves COVID-19 outcomes is not the first of its kind. Other studies have established a relationship, but research is limited.
A 2022 study revealed that hospitalized cannabis users had “lower COVID-19 severity” and “significantly better health outcomes” as compared to non-users. Another study from the same year showed that cannabis can lower COVID-19 risk but is also linked to more severe cases of the virus.
A 2022 University of Oregon study revealed that cannabis compounds prevent COVID-19 infections in human cells. The researchers are continuing studies to determine if cannabis is an effective COVID-19 treatment.
Cannabis Improves COVID-19 Health Outcomes: The Science Behind It
The previously mentioned University of Oregon study shed some light on how cannabis improves COVID-19 health outcomes. Researchers found that the cannabis compounds CBGA (cannabigerolic acid) and CBDA (cannabidiolic acid) bind to the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein which causes COVID-19. The bind prevents the virus from entering cells.
“Orally bioavailable and with a long history of safe human use, these cannabinoids, isolated or in hemp extracts, have the potential to prevent as well as treat infection by SARS-CoV-2,” the study authors stated.
They also noted that the compounds were abundant in several hemp products and did not have psychoactive effects. They are found to be safe for humans.
The study also found that the compounds were effective in blocking COVID-19 variants such as SARS-CoV-2, B.1.1.7, and B.1.351.
Ingesting Marijuana Will Not Prevent COVID
The University of Oregon study gained a lot of media attention. As a result, many people justified their marijuana use thinking it would reduce their risk of COVID.
A UCLA article clarified that ingesting marijuana would not increase COVID-19 resistance because THC, the compound responsible for giving cannabis its psychoactive effects, has not been identified as a COVID-19 treatment. Rather, the non-psychoactive cannabis constituents CBDA and CBGA have been shown to have COVID-fighting effects.
There are trace amounts of CBDA and CBGA in cannabis products, but the concentration may not be large enough to have COVID risk-reducing results. Furthermore, these compounds are destroyed when marijuana is smoked, vaped, or cooked. A concentrate will only provide the desired effects.
Should I Purchase COVID-Fighting CBD Products?
Many companies have taken advantage of the research that shows cannabis improves COVID-19 outcomes. They are making products advertised to reduce the risk of COVID. So should consumers invest in these products?
“We don’t want people running out taking random cannabinoids,” said Marsha Rosner of the University of Chicago, a senior author of a study that revealed cannabis improves COVID-19 outcomes. She points out that there is a lack of evidence that established the cannabis-COVID relationship.
The new research is also troubling to the Food and Drug Administration. The agency is already struggling to regulate the CBD market. They have stated that CBD manufacturers may not mark their products as medical treatments without conducting a clinical trial and submitting an application to the organization.
However, few companies are conducting those trials. Instead, they are finding loopholes by advertising their products as dietary supplements and making modest claims about their effectiveness. Experts predict the struggle will become a bigger issue as more research is conducted on the cannabis-COVID relationship.