Cannabis users who have been hospitalized for Covid are less likely to suffer severe health consequences than patients who steer clear of weed, a new study suggests.
The study, which was recently published in the Journal of Cannabis Research, aimed to evaluate how regular cannabis use impacts the health outcomes of Covid-related hospitalizations. Researchers collected data from 1,831 patients who had been admitted to two Los Angeles-area hospitals with severe Covid infections. Out of this group, 69 patients said they were actively using cannabis before they got sick.
As a whole, patients who used pot had less severe complications and better health outcomes than patients who didn't. Cannabis users scored lower on the standard NIH Covid severity scale, were less likely to be admitted to the ICU, and were less likely to require mechanical ventilation or oxygen supplementation than non-users. Active pot users also reported lower levels of overall inflammation than other patients.
The study reported that 59% of non-users received systemic steroids during their hospital stay, but only 39% of cannabis users required this treatment. Similarly, 67% of non-users needed antibiotics, versus 49% of weed lovers. Pot users also only spent an average of 4 days in the hospital, while the rest of the patients were hospitalized for an average of 6 days. Yet even though cannabis users received fewer adjunctive therapies than non-users, their overall health outcomes were still much better.
“This retrospective cohort study suggests that active cannabis users hospitalized with COVID-19 had better clinical outcomes compared with non-users, including decreased need for ICU admission or mechanical ventilation,” the study concluded. Researchers did warn that their “results need to be interpreted with caution given the limitations of a retrospective analysis,” however.
The present study is not able to explain exactly why cannabis users are less likely to suffer severe complications from Covid, but earlier research could provide a clue. Several recent studies from Canada and Israel have suggested that THC, CBD, and even lesser-known cannabinoids like CBG could block coronavirus cells from replicating or even help prevent people from getting sick in the first place.
Cannabis has well-known anti-inflammatory properties, and most patients suffering from severe Covid complications show extremely elevated inflammatory markers. Physicians have tried to fight runaway inflammation with pharmaceutical drugs that dampen patients' immune symptoms, but the present study suggests that natural cannabis could have a similar effect.
Previous studies have also found that cannabis users tend to be healthier, more fit, happier, and less obese than non-users. Doctors have reported that patients who are obese or otherwise in poor health are more likely to die or suffer extreme health complications from Covid, so it's possible that pot lovers’ superior health may better protect them from serious health outcomes.
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