Understanding COVID-19 – Let’s talk about COVID-19. It is caused by a new coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2. Did you know, numerous variants have been around for years? It is true, Lysol promotes that its spray can kill over 90% of some coronavirus variants. So, therefore, it is safe to say that there are many types of coronaviruses. Some cause the common cold, while other variants of this virus have led to fatal disease outbreaks. These include severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003, Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) in 2012, and now COVID-19.
Coronaviruses are named for the crown-like spikes on their surface. Corona is a word defined as a part of the body resembling or likened to a crown for anatomy purposes. Thus, the crown spikes make the shape of this virus to help it get inside your body’s cells. Once inside, they replicate or make copies of themselves. Thankfully, scientists have learned how to turn these spikes against the virus through vaccines and treatments.
How did this variant of the coronavirus get named COVID-19?
On February 11, 2020, the World Health Organization announced an official name for the disease that is causing the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak, first identified in Wuhan China. The new name of this disease is coronavirus disease 2019, abbreviated as COVID-19. ‘CO’ stands for corona, ‘VI’ for the virus, and ‘D’ for disease. Formerly, this disease was referred to as ‘2019 novel coronavirus’ or ‘2019-nCoV.’ Once again, the COVID-19 virus is a new virus linked to the same family of viruses as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and some types of the common cold.
What are some of the symptoms of COVID-19?
Symptoms may appear 2 to 14 days after exposure to the virus. Symptoms may include:
- fever or chills;
- shortness of breath;
- muscle or body aches;
- new loss of taste or smell;
- sore throat;
- congestion or runny nose;
- nausea or vomiting;
Am I immune to COVID-19 after recovery?
Currently, it is unknown if recovered adults are definitively immune to SARS-CoV-2 reinfection because biologic markers of immunity have not been correlated with protection from infection. However, available evidence suggests that most recovered adults would have a degree of immunity for at least 90 days following initial diagnosis of laboratory-confirmed COVID-19.
What are the symptoms and complications that COVID-19 can cause?
Thankfully, most people with COVID-19 have mild symptoms, but some people may get severely ill. Although most people with COVID-19 get better within weeks of illness, some people experience post-COVID conditions. Post-COVID conditions are a wide range of new, returning, or ongoing health problems people can experience more than four weeks after first being infected with the virus that causes COVID-19. Older people and those who have certain underlying medical conditions are more likely to get severely ill from COVID-19.
CANNABIS and COVID-19 – Understanding COVID-19
Under normal circumstances, whenever the immune system senses an infection or inflammation, the body releases cytokines into the bloodstream. Cytokines are secreted by specific cells of the immune system which mediate and regulate immunity, inflammation, and the formation of blood cells – by rushing to the site and communicating to white blood cells which virus or cell to attack.
As cytokines play a crucial role in fighting off infections, reducing them as a preventative measure or in the early stages of the infection may be a bad idea. Many authorities caution against using cannabis agents in the early stages of infection because cannabis and specific cannabinoids such as CBD and THC suppress immune responses.
However, some evidence does indicate that several high-CBD extracts can inhibit viral cell entry and spread by decreasing angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptor levels, a receptor expressed in lung tissue and the oral and nasal mucosa that SARS-CoV-2 uses for entry into a human host.
Various studies have shown that cytokine storms, resulting in acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), are a leading cause of death in severe COVID-19 cases. This hyperinflammation is called a cytokine storm; and can become dangerous to patients’ health as the immune system attacks the body’s own cells instead of the virus, meaning patients may experience high fever, inflammation, severe fatigue, and nausea. In extreme cases, a cytokine storm can become life-threatening and even cause organ failure.
Endocannabinoids produced in the respiratory system and cannabinoid-induced bronchial dilation suggest a significant therapeutic potential for cannabinoids in the treatment of respiratory diseases, including COVID-19-induced ARDS. Several studies mimicking lung damage caused by ARDS in mice show that CBD improved clinical symptoms, significantly improved the levels of oxygen, and reduced the levels of inflammation-promoting cytokines caused by COVID-19 induced ARDS.
Detailed examination showed that CBD partially or totally reversed the damage caused to the lungs, such as tissue overgrowth, scarring, and swelling.
Whole plant cannabis extracts have also been shown to reduce blood coagulation in animal models. It is known that many of the negative systemic effects of COVID-19 appear to be related to altered coagulation, so it is possible that cannabis may be useful in managing these sequelae too.
 Wang, B et al. Aging (Albany NY); 2020 Nov 22;12(22):22425-22444. &  Khodadadi, H et al. Cannabis Cannabinoid Res. 2020; 5(3): 197–201
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