COVID-19 treatment update: Cannabis and CBD show promise

Does the FDA owe Kyle Turley an apology?

Cannabis is medicine. It’s a fact. Science has proven the once-reviled herb effective in treating a variety of conditions, and now it may help humanity survive the deadly scourge of COVID-19.

Food and Drug Administration (FDA), if you’re listening, that’s right: Researchers at the University of South Carolina have published a paper in the British Journal of Pharmacology suggesting THC can promote beneficial bacteria that suppress lung inflammation brought about by Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS). 

ARDS itself can be brought about by the COVID-19 virus as part of the cytokine storm that is, COVID-19 treatment update: Cannabis and CBD show promise triggered when a patient’s immune system goes too far into overdrive. So far there’s no effective treatment for ARDS — not even, good lord, Clorox or hydroxychloroquine.  Untreated, ARDS can cause the lungs and other organs to fail, resulting in death. 

The paper, “Protective Effects of Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol Against Enterotoxin-induced Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome is Mediated by Modulation of Microbiota,” was published by Dr. Mitzi Nagarkatti and Dr. Prakash Nagarkatti at the University of South Carolina (UofSC) School of Medicine, Department of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology.

As reported by MedicalXpress News:

“Acute respiratory distress syndrome is triggered by a variety of etiologic agents. Currently, there are no FDA-approved drugs to treat ARDS because of which the mortality rate is close to 40 percent. Our studies suggest that THC is highly effective to treat ARDS and thus, clinical trials are critical to investigate if this works,” said Mitzi Nagarkatti.

“Cytokine storm is a huge clinical issue which leads to multiorgan failure and often death. It is also seen in COVID-19 patients, and there are no effective treatment modalities against this syndrome. We have been working on cannabinoids for over 20 years and found that cannabinoids such as THC are highly anti-inflammatory. Thus, our studies raise the exciting suggestion to test THC against ARDS seen in COVID-19 patients,” said Prakash Nagarkatti.

You don’t have to get high to benefit from medicinal cannabis

Even if you don’t like the high that comes with THC, it’s possible that non-intoxicating cannabidiol (CBD) could also be a boon in fighting COVID-19. As reported by Forbes contributor Emily Earlenbaugh,* researchers in Israel combined CBD with a proprietary blend of terpenes and found this formulation more effective than dexamethasone, a steroid being used to reduce cytokines.

Exciting news indeed. A non-toxic plant-based medicine might be able to put a dent in the death toll of this pandemic. And while doctors and researchers are extra careful with the words ‘cure and prevent,’ most of us celebrate when something actually works, as THC and CBD just might. 

Ask former NFL All-Pro lineman Kyle Turley,* who’s been an outspoken advocate for the medicinal power of cannabis and CBD, and credits cannabis with saving his life. Earlier this year he was admonished by the FDA for claiming CBD could defeat COVID-19. Now that there’s real evidence he may have been right, does Turley have an apology coming? 

We’re not holding our breath — although some cannabis might help things if we did. We know it helps with inflammation, which is coming for us all, and other auto-immune diseases, as well as anxiety and insomnia, which are going around these days.

Seriously, evidence is mounting that cannabis and CBD could actually help beat COVID-19. Now it’s up to our federal government — that well-oiled machine that’s so good at protecting and enhancing our lives — to make cannabis and CBD available to everyone who needs it.

Once again, don’t hold your breath.    

*I’m hoping to get both of these folks on my podcast soon to share their perspectives. Anyone else you want to hear from? Send me an email at or check in on Twitter. Stay safe and stay strong!