Cannabis users admitted to the hospital with COVID were more likely to successfully fight the virus than those who did not use cannabis, according to a study.
The study found cannabis users experienced fewer negative symptoms including lower rates of respiratory disease, fewer deaths, and lower rates of comorbidities. The authors presented their findings at The American College of Chest Physicians (CHEST) annual conference in Honolulu last week.
Scientists reasoned that the potential ability of cannabis to prevent viruses from entering cells in the body could cause a difference in clinical outcomes when results were compared to those who did not use cannabis.
“Marijuana smokers had better outcomes and mortality compared to non-users. 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,” researchers conducting the study said.
To arrive at their conclusions, the authors of the study examined data from the National Inpatient Sample, a US Government database that tracks hospital admissions, the outcomes of the visit and other information about the patient’s admission.
Patients admitted to the hospital were placed into two groups; those who did, and those who did not report the use of cannabis. Of the 322,214 total hospital admissions examined in the study, less than 1%, 2,603, reported that they had taken cannabis.
After methodically comparing the two groups, scientists found that those who used cannabis were significantly less likely than those who didn’t to have negative outcomes, these included:
- Fewer rates of having a tube inserted into the throat to assist with breathing (intubation) – 6.8% compared to 12%
- Fewer rates of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) – 2.1% compared to 6%
- Fewer rates of severe sepsis with multi-organ failure – 1.2% compared to 2.7%
- Fewer instances of death – 2.9% compared to 13.5%
Previous studies investigating the role cannabis and individual cannabinoids could play in the treatment and prevention of COVID have been “ promising and exciting”, but have not been able to reach any solid conclusions.
Scientists involved in the recent study point out that there are limitations, adding that further investigations must be done to investigate the potential of cannabis as a tool to help patients fight against viruses such as COVID-19. “The significant decrease in mortality and complications warrants further investigation of the association between marijuana use and COVID-19. Our study highlights a topic of future research for larger trials especially considering the widespread use of marijuana” they wrote.