Some cannabis extracts may lower the risk of dying from Covid-19 by preventing a patient's malfunctioning immune system from attacking itself, research suggests.
A 'cytokine storm' is a process whereby the immune system goes haywire and attacks healthy tissue instead of just the virus.
In many severe Covid cases, this is what proves fatal, and finding a way to dampen this process has been a priority for doctors.
Now researchers at the University of Lethbridge have investigated how extracts from Cannabis sativa plants interact with cytokines.
They found three strains which are highly effective at reducing levels of two of the chemicals which play integral roles in the cytokine storm.
The researchers have more than 200 variants of cannabis in their collection, and narrowed this down to seven for their study, which has not yet been peer reviewed and is published as a pre-print on Research Square.
'In this study, we identified three extracts that are very, very good strains; some strains identified in previous studies were also pretty good,' says Dr Olga Kovalchuk, co-author of the study.
The strains are known only as numbers four, eight and 14.
Stopping the cytokine storm has been a priority for researchers since it was first identified in the pandemic's early days.
It persists even when the virus has been eradicated from the body and leads to acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) which can be a fatal affliction.
This can also cause lung fibrosis, which is when lung tissue becomes damaged and scarred and therefore unable to function properly.