Can Marijuana Protect You From Ebola?
The deadly Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa has hit “unprecedented” proportions, according to relief workers on the ground. “The epidemic is out of control,” Dr. Bart Janssens, director of operations for Doctors Without Borders, said in a statement.
There have been 567 cases and 350 deaths since the epidemic began in March, according to the latest World Health Organization figures.
Not a day has gone by in the last few weeks without a mention of Ebola. Having made its way into North America, Ebola has become reached the top of the “to fear” list, making many worry that it will only be a matter of time before the disease dominates the continent. Effective vaccines and treatments for Ebola have yet to be discovered, though one may be hiding in plain sight: cannabis.
Cannabinoids in marijuana have gained more and more of a reputation as a way to control and aid one’s immune systems, specifically with diseases that target a body’s natural defense measures against viruses, like HIV. Dr. David B. Allen, medical director of Cannabis Sativa, Inc, and Brad Morehouse, founder of NewCure.org, both believe cannabis can combat Ebola in the same way.
First, a rundown on what Ebola is and does, so everyone understands the argument. Ebola is a virus that targets the RNA (which creates proteins) in cells, takes over, then begins to replicate itself. The virus is able to hide itself from virus killing cells by creating indivisibility cloak-like surface proteins, which makes fighting Ebola especially difficult for the body.
Another consequence of Ebola being an RNA virus is that it makes each strain unique to the individual infected, thus making the creation of a widely applicable vaccine incredibly difficult.
What makes Ebola deadly is the way in which one’s immune system reacts as time goes on. Aside from creating hemorrhaging and leaking between cells, Ebola primarily kills when a person’s body releases a massive amount of enzymes (a cytokine storm) and an overabundant, and fatal amount, of immune cells being activated.
That’s where marijuana comes in as a potential saving grace to those afflicted with Ebola. As Joe Martin points out, cannabis is contains natural antiretrovirals and is also an anti-inflammatory able to reduce the harm to the body caused by a cytokine storm.
Cannabichromene (CBC) is one of four major cannabinoids in Cannabis sativa L. and is the second most abundant cannabinoid in the cannabis you most likely smoke, vape, or eat. CBD was evaluated for it’s antiinflammatory, antibacterial, and antifungal activity. In 2 tests CBC was superior to phenylbutazone, anonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) for the short-term treatment of pain and fever in animals. The antibacterial activity of CBC was found to be strong, and the antifungal activity was mild to moderate.
In a recent article by the International Business Times cannabis experts weigh in on the possibility of marijuana curing Ebola.
“NewCure.org founder Brad Morehouse believes the use of cannabis to control the virus may greatly reduce the number of deaths and may benefit clinical use. Morehouse said enough research on cannabis fighting diseases like Lyme disease is “overwhelming.” He revealed cannabis is currently being studied as a viable treatment to HIV as the substance boosts the immune system.
Global research has indicated that marijuana has significant medical potential but cannabis advocates are hampered by legalities regarding widespread use. Ebola studies have concluded that the virus kills by cytokine storm which fatally affects the human body’s immune system. Medical cannabis advocates believe the anti-inflammatory and antiretroviral properties of the substance can reduce the severity of cytokine storm.”
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THC was found to reduce the infectivity of herpes simplex virus. The effective THC concentration resulting in an 80% decrement in virus viability and decreased the drug activity by approximately 50-fold.