The relationship between smoking marijuana and COVID-19 outcomes was examined in a recent study.
Analysing data from the USA’s National Inpatient Sample, researchers studied 322,214 patients over 18 years of age who had been admitted to hospital with a diagnosis of COVID. Of those, 2,603 were marijuana users.
Based on univariate analysis, the research revealed marijuana users had:
- significantly lower rates of intubation (6.8% vs 12%),
- lower acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) (2.1% vs 6%)
- lower acute respiratory failure (25% vs 52.9%)
- lower severe sepsis with multiorgan failure (5.8% vs 12%)
- lower in-hospital cardiac arrest (1.2% vs 2.7%)
- lower mortality (2.9% vs 13.5%)
But why? The study’s authors state:
“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.”
Cytokine release syndrome (CRS) – also sometimes referred to as “cytokine storm” or cytokine-associated toxicity – is basically a scenario when a person’s immune system responds too aggressively to infection.
While some cannabinoids are known or believed to have immunomodulatory properties, there has been a knowledge gap in terms of the potential impact of marijuana use on COVID-19 outcomes. This study aimed to help fill that gap – but more research is needed.
“The significant decrease in mortality and complications warrants further investigation of the association between marijuana use and COVID-19,” state the authors. “Our study highlights a topic of future research for larger trials especially considering the widespread use of marijuana.”
More from the study can be found in the journal Chest.
This isn’t the first study to establish a link between cannabis use and improved outcomes for COVID-19 patients. Among them, an Oregon State University found two lesser-known cannabinoids, cannabigerolic acid (CBGA) and cannabidiolic acid (CBDA), could prevent the coronavirus causing COVID-19 from invading human cells.
Another indicated cannabidiol (CBD) could help reduce some of the more extreme health impacts on patients facing complications from COVID-19.
While the COVID emergency may officially be over, it is still wreaking havoc and will continue to. To date, more than 696,876,000 cases and over 6.9 million deaths have been reported globally.