Immunonutrition, cannabis extracts could prevent COVID-19 and aid recovery, says study

·3-min read

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers and healthcare experts from around the world have been focused on searching for the best method to prevent, treat and cure the novel coronavirus infection. Various vaccines are being developed to tackle the threat of this disease, while a number of pre-existing drugs are currently being tested (and some already being used) to treat patients suffering from COVID-19.

Many methods are also being considered around the world to provide an immunity boost against the viral infection and to aid the recovery of patients who have had to battle the disease in hospitals or at home. Two new studies provide insight into protection against and recovery from COVID-19 infection. Here's what the data shows:

Cannabis for COVID-19 protection?

A new study published in the journal Aging suggests that Cannabis sativa extracts can successfully fight SARS-CoV-2 and therefore prevent COVID-19 infection. The study, conducted by Canadian researchers at the University of Lethbridge, was based on the fact that C. sativa extracts, especially the ones high in the anti-inflammatory cannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD), are effective in altering gene expression and inflammation. Working under a Health Canada research license, these researchers developed 800 new cultivars of C. sativa and used artificial 3D human models to examine if cannabis extracts can affect the ACE2 expression associated with COVID-19.

The researchers found that 13 cannabis extracts developed by them were successfully able to decrease ACE2 protein levels, while some extracts down-regulate serine protease TMPRSS2 (another critical protein required for SARS-CoV-2 entry into the host cells). The researchers concluded that their results are promising enough to warrant further investigations into the efficacy and dosage of cannabis extracts to fight COVID-19. It must be noted that this is not the first study to propose that cannabis extracts can provide protection against COVID-19. A study published in Brain, Behavior and Immunity in July 2020 also suggested that cannabis-derived CBD can reduce the deadly lung inflammation or the cytokine storm associated with the disease.

Immunonutrition for recovering COVID-19 patients

Immunonutrition is the method through which an altered supply of nutrients is used to modify inflammatory or immune responses in the body. The notion that this method can be useful in preventing the infection and treating COVID-19 patients is certainly not new as researchers and governments from around the world have issued nutritional recommendations for people during the pandemic. A new study published in BMJ Nutrition, Prevention and Health suggests that prehabilitation of those above the age of 65 years (a high-risk group for COVID-19 morbidity and mortality) through immunonutrition can improve their chances of recovery immensely.

The researchers behind this study highlight the fact that a strong immune system is one that has a steady supply of nutrients to the T cells, B cells, the complement system and phagocytes. Supplying these nutrients through diet can not only protect people from viral infections but also ensure that their recovery from COVID-19, even if lengthy, is full and proper. The researchers recommend the addition of the following nutrients:

  • Supplements containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D to be taken daily; the upper limit of 50 micrograms per day should not be crossed.

  • Foods like broccoli, blackcurrants, oranges, bell peppers and others packed with vitamin C should be consumed every day.

  • Zinc-rich foods like crabs, shrimp, fish, beans and boiled eggs should be eaten every day but the upper limit of 25 mg per day for zinc should be kept in mind.

  • Every individual should be evaluated separately to assess their supplementary nutritional intake needs and dosages must be recommended only after that to reduce risks of toxicity

For more information, read our article on How to improve immunity.

Health articles in Firstpost are written by, India's first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health.

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