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Marijuana May Help Prevent COVID-Related Respiratory Distress

a shirtless man smoking weed through a bong

A new study finds hope in sativa strains of cannabis.

Researchers at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada, have discovered that certain cannabis strains might offer some help in preventing acute respiratory distress in patients who have COVID-19.

Acute respiratory distress happens when the virus overloads a person's immune system to the point where the body attacks itself and the patient needs to be placed on a ventilator. The new study shows that certain strains of marijuana might slow that process down or even stop it.

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

A clinical trial that can be peer reviewed will be the next step in the research. Cannabis therapy wouldn’t be a substitute for any other medical treatment needed from COVID, but combined with what we already have, it could lessen the need for patients to take up hospital beds and ventilators.

Drs. Olga and Igor Kovalchuk have been working together at the University of Lethbridge’s Department of Biological Sciences, along with a team of researchers from Pathway RX.

The specific strains that have been most helpful are sativas, which are known to offer cannabis users more energy than indicas, which can sometimes induce lethargy. Researchers haven’t yet publicly released the specific strains most useful for COVID patients.

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