STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. – The chemical in marijuana that makes people high may be effective in treating a potentially lethal coronavirus (COVID-19) complication, researchers at the University of South Carolina recently announced.
The researchers quoted studies, co-published by Prakash Nagarkatti, which found that the chemical THC, the most mind-altering chemical in marijuana, prevented a harmful immune response that causes Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) in mice and caused a significant increase in healthy lung bacteria.
Three studies, published in Frontiers in Pharmacology, the British Journal of Pharmacology and the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, were conducted by giving mice a toxin that triggered the harmful immune reaction that causes ARDS and then injecting mice with THC, according to the studies’ abstracts, as reported in The State, the daily student newspaper at the University of South Carolina.
With ARDS, “The underlying mechanism is your immune system goes haywire and starts destroying your lungs and all your other organs,” Nagarkatti told The State.
Dozens of experiments were conducted in the three separate studies and 100% of the mice given THC survived, Nagarkatti told The State.
While the many differences between mice and humans mean lab results in mice don’t always directly translate into real-life results for humans, Nagarkatti said he was blown away at the effectiveness of THC in treating ARDS.
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There is no FDA-approved drug right now to treat ARDS, Nagarkatti said.
Nagarkatti has recommended that health officials begin human trials with THC, he told The State.
However, he said that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea for people to smoke marijuana if they think they have coronavirus. Since THC suppresses the immune response, smoking marijuana recreationally can actually make a coronavirus infection worse.