Researchers in Alberta Canada, at the University of Lethbridge, have found that specific cannabis sativa extracts are showing promise as an additional treatment for COVID-19. The results of the study, which was done in partnership with Pathway RX, a research firm focused on developing custom cannabis therapies, and Swysh, a company focused on cannabinoid research and development, show that particular high-CBD sativa strains can be used to develop preventative treatments in the form of a mouthwash or throat gargle product for clinical and home use.
The study has yet to be peer reviewed or published in an academic journal, but that shouldn’t take away from its importance. As Dr. Igor Kovalchuk, a U of L biology professor and CEO of Pathway RX, explains “While our most successful extracts require further validation in a large-scale analysis and an animal model, our study is crucial for the future analysis of the effects of medical cannabis on COVID-19.”
Dr. Kovalchuk’s wife, Dr. Olga Kovalchuk, spoke about the study with Narcity, where she broke down the research.
She explained that the virus is able to enter your body through many different receptors, so the Kovalchuks’ tested out many of their different cannabis extracts and found that 13 of them had the capacity to “modulate” the receptors. As a result of this “modulating”, less of the virus breaks into the receptors and spread throughout your body.
To break this down even further, Olga provided Narcity with a great analogy. "Imagine a building that has 20 doors. And people want to enter through doors. And if all of a sudden, you lock 17 doors, fewer people will enter."
And as per the study, their specific cannabis extracts can potentially act as the locks.
It’s important to note that these aren’t just strains that you can pick up at your local dispensary, they are very specifically curated extracts of sativa, with high levels of CBD and low levels of THC, which have anti-inflammatory components to fight the virus, but won’t get you high.
Like many other researchers during these times, Dr. Igor Kovalchuk knows the importance of this study and is rapidly trying to get it to the testing phase.
“Given the current dire and rapidly developing epidemiological situation, every possible therapeutic opportunity and avenue needs to be considered,” says Kovalchuk. “Our research team is actively pursuing partnerships to conduct clinical trials.”