Medical Marijuana and Tuberculosis in the Time of Covid-19
With the worldwide phenomenon of Covid-19 lingering in our midst without indications of leaving soon, there are a few medical conditions that are more under stress than others. One of these conditions is Tuberculosis. In this time of the Covid-19 pandemic, all focus is on the essential services and how to deal with the crisis, but the WHO warns that longs-standing health problems like Tuberculosis should not be forgotten.
Modeling work suggests that the Covid-19 epidemic could lead to a 25% reduction in detecting Tuberculosis over the next few months, and that could ultimately lead to an increase of 13% deaths due to TB. That sets TB mortality rates back 5 years. This is why the WHO urges the medical world to not let their guard drop on the prevention and care of TB. Finding and treating people with tuberculosis should still be a priority.
A Recap on Tuberculosis: What is It?
Tuberculosis, also known as TB for short, is caused by the Mycobacterium Tuberculosis bacteria. The disease attacks normally the lungs but could attack other parts of the body too. This is why it is more sensitive to the coronavirus as well. When detected early enough, there is a strong survival rate, but even so, it still remains one of the top 10 causes of death around the world.
For many years, effective treatments for TB has been looked into. Researchers found that a diet high in protein could treat tuberculosis very well. Something like hemp seeds, high in easily digestible protein, is very similar to human globulin, and therefore makes it perfect for treating TB. Marijuana resin was also found to inhibit TB bacteria growth and other pathogens effectively. Studies found that cannabis is highly effective in combatting methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Studies show that there are 5 main cannabinoids in marijuana able to fight bacteria because of their anti-bacterial properties. They are:
Cannabidiol or CBD
Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol or THC
Why TB patients are at an Increased risk of Covid-19 disease.
Because Covid-19 is still a relatively new experience, especially with infection to TB patients, it is anticipated that patients with both TB and Covid-19 might have poorer treatment outcomes. Even more so if the TB treatment is interrupted. This is why TB patients should do everything in their power to stay protected against the coronavirus. People ill with Covid-19 and Tuberculosis show similar symptoms. The coinciding symptoms are cough, difficulty breathing, and fever as both the diseases attack the lungs first. Both agents transmit via close contact, but the incubation period from exposure to disease in TB takes longer. It usually goes together with a slow onset.
While anyone infected with TB may fall ill with the disease, and also Covid-19, some are more prone to falling ill. These include:
Those with diabetes
Those with HIV
Close contact with people who have TB
Involvement of treating TB patients
The use of IV drugs
Compromised immune systems
Those using tobacco
The immune system is key in protecting against diseases. Those who have a compromised immune system, and babies and younger children, whose immune system is not fully developed yet, are also at high risk.
Symptoms of TB to look out for
Because symptoms are so similar to other lung infections, it makes it difficult to identify. There are a variety of symptoms to pay attention to. They are:
Chest pain when breathing or coughing
Coughing lasting longer than 3 months
Coughing up blood
Fatigue and fever
Loss of appetite
Weakness and weight loss
Different Types of Tuberculosis
There are two main types of TB, namely:
Active TB – this is the active stage of TB where the bacteria are quickly multiplying and invading various organs of the body. This is the contagious and symptomatic stage of the disease. Everyone in contact with a TB patient should then be tested
Latent TB – The bacteria are present in the body but do not cause symptoms. It is not contagious anymore, but it can jump back to phase A if immunosuppressant meds are taken or other illnesses like HIV or Covid-19 are present.
Cannabis in the treatment of Tuberculosis
Treating TB with cannabis goes back for many years. It was first recorded in India in the time of 1893-1894. Later it was recorded in Africa where cannabis was part of the African pharmacopeia to treat various illnesses of the respiratory illnesses. In Mexico, there also reports of people treated with Tuberculosis.
Hemp seed was reported to be extremely effective in treating TB, especially amongst children. Ground hemp seed is steeped in warm milk for at least 30 minutes, before being pressed and filtered. It should be administered every alternative day. Significant results are found, even to the point where complete healing took place without any other medication. It is thought that the high content of polyunsaturated essential fatty acids found in the primary hemp seed protein, edestin, is important in the treatment of TB.
It is shown that the M. tuberculosis bacteria are destroyed faster when high levels of arachidonic acid are present. Arachidonic acid is produced in the body via the metabolism of linoleic acid, which is found in very high levels in hemp seed.
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