Cannabis may be an early contender in treatment of long-haul COVID symptoms

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Recent research is increasingly suggesting that cannabis may help treat some symptoms in so-called COVID ‘long haulers.’

Although ‘long-haul’ COVID is still poorly understood, post-acute symptoms such as mental abnormalities and ‘brain fog,’ inflammation, multiorgan effects, muscle and joint pain, heart palpitations, headache, extreme physical fatigue are surfacing in patients and can subsist for weeks or even months.

“The long-term effects of these symptoms are massive,” writes researcher Indrani Sarkar.

Despite the often debilitating set of ongoing symptoms suffered by long-haulers, researchers have scrambled to find an effective treatment plan, despite their growing numbers.

But the results of multiple studies indicate that cannabis – specifically, non-intoxicating cannabinoid molecules Cannabidiol (CBD), Cannabivarin (CVN) and beta-caryophyllene (BCP)– may have a role to play in helping long-haulers manage symptoms and find some relief.

One such study, published in the Journal of Biomolecular Structure and Mechanics, examined the efficacy of cannabis in post-COVID symptom treatment strategy via a series of molecular docking and simulation studies.

Of the four human proteins reported to be upregulated or damaged by the virus, the study targeted three – ACE2, Interleukin-6, and Transmembrane serine protease and NRP1.

“The molecular docking and simulation studies revealed that Cannabidiol and Cannabivarin obtained from Cannabis can bind to post-Covid symptoms related central nervous system proteins and downregulate them which can be beneficial in post-covid symptoms treatment strategy,” the authors write, concluding that they “propose Cannabis as an important therapeutic plant against post-Covid symptoms.”

Another study, this one published in the journal Frontiers in Pharmacology, suggests that cannabinoid molecule beta-caryophyllene can activate the CB2 receptors to inhibit numerous inflammatory mediators, thus “targeting the trinity of infection, immunity, and inflammation” in treating the virus.

“One of the most promising therapeutic targets for the modulation of immune-inflammatory responses is the endocannabinoid system, particularly the activation of cannabinoid type 2 receptors (CB2R), a G-protein coupled receptor which mediates the anti-inflammatory properties by modulating numerous signaling pathways,” the authors explain.

“Based on reasonable pharmacological mechanisms and therapeutic properties, we speculate that BCP has potential to be investigated against COVID-19 and will inspire further preclinical and clinical studies.”

While the results are promising, those suffering from post-acute COVID symptoms shouldn’t run to their local dispensaries just yet. COVID research is in its nascency and significantly more study will be required to assess the efficacy of cannabinoids as part of a treatment strategy for long-haulers.

In the meantime, those experiencing symptoms post-COVID should consult their physicians.

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