Aromatic oils that give cannabis its signature taste and smell might have a role to play in fighting the coronavirus.
Israeli researchers at the forefront of cannabis research are now investigating the potential of a formulation of cannabis terpenes in treating viral infections, COVID-19 included.
Is cannabis effective against COVID-19? Researchers want to know
Secreted in the same glands that produce cannabinoids like THC and CBD, terpenes are aromatic oils that are responsible for the taste and smell of cannabis — but that’s not all that they do.
Research suggests that terpenes play a considerable role in not only tempering the intoxicating effects of THC, but also creating synergy with phytocannabinoids and even increasing their therapeutic value.
In the context of the coronavirus crisis, researchers at the Israel Institute of Technology are testing the therapeutic potential of cannabis terpenes.
During previous severe coronavirus outbreaks, such as those caused by the SARS coronavirus in 2002-2003, researchers found that cannabis terpenes reduced disease severity and impact in both in-vitro and in-vivo. In a 2007 study published in the Journal of Medical Chemistry, Chinese scientists concluded that the terpenes blocked a certain protein that allows the virus to replicate its genetic material.
“Our lab has been approved to operate as a corona lab, and in doing so, we are promoting two studies based on existing cannabis studies,” Professor Dedi Meiri of the Israel Institute of Technology said in a statement for Health Europa.
“First, we will try to identify the plant’s own molecules that are capable of suppressing the immune response to the COVID-19 coronavirus – which causes inflammation and severe disease – to lower the immune system response without suppressing it, thereby providing better complementary treatment to the steroids, which completely suppress the immune system.”