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Avellon Williams 

KINGTON, JAMAICA- The Jamaican Medical Cannabis Corporation (JMCC) chief executive officer, Diane Scott, has voiced support for the possible role of nutraceuticals in combating the COVID-19 virus as part of ongoing studies.

On Wednesday, she spoke with The Gleaner after the Ministry of Health and Wellness opened a new field hospital at Savanna-la-Mar Public Hospital in Westmoreland, for which her company was a donor. Built at a cost of $35.4 million, the field hospital has 50-bed spaces for COVID-19 patients.

“I think any advancement of medical cannabis used in treating new conditions is exciting, and certainly there is a great deal of research for using medical cannabis in areas of paediatric and adult epilepsy, oncology, pain management, anxiety, and multiple sclerosis,” said Scott.

Adding, “So it is just natural to think that there would be a benefit for COVID-19, and to now receive research that proves it is, or is working to prove it, is very exciting.”

CEO Diane Scott /Courtesy/

Scott firmly believes that nutraceuticals have a very important role to play in the future of medicine.

“COVID obviously is a very serious condition that we have to find ways to treat and I am excited to think that medical cannabis would be able to do that in the future,” Scott added.

Professor Errol Morrison, a consultant physician, and biomedical researcher declared one week ago that a substance found in hemp, cannabidiolic acid (CBDA), and cannabigerolicacid (CBGA), could prevent COVID-19 from entering human cells.

Researchers at Oregon State University conducted a study in early January to determine whether compounds within different extracts from natural products adhered to spike proteins on the COVID-19 virus.

In a study published in the Journal of Natural Products on January 10, the researchers discovered that CBDA and CBGA were attached to the virus’ spike proteins.

Professor Errol Morrison /Courtesy/

Nutraceutical health, which uses natural foods and herbs to treat disease, was suggested by Scott as an option that should be combined with the COVID-19 vaccine as opposed to being used as a standalone treatment.

“I would not necessarily say that it (nutraceutical treatment) is superior, and I think you need to look at these things in concert with each other. In combination with vaccines, we hope that someday we will be able to show that medical cannabis can help the condition as patients are experiencing COVID,” said Scott.

The Jamaican health authorities have previously downplayed the use of herbal treatment as an alternative to vaccination.

In January 2021, Dr. Melody Ennis, the Ministry of Health’s director of family services, opined that there is insufficient evidence to support natural remedies being superior to COVID-19 vaccines.

Dr. Melody Ennis /Courtesy/

Nutraceutical advocates suggest that health authorities should promote the use of natural remedies as a viable option for treating COVID-19 so that people will have a choice in their own treatment instead of relying only on vaccines.

The leaders of the Scotts Hall and Charles Town Maroon communities expressed support for natural remedies in May 2020. Colonel Marcia Douglas of the Charles Town Maroons highlighted plants such as dandelion, avocado, garlic,and citrus fruits as well as extracts of bushes and herbs as ways to strengthen the immune system.

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Avellon Williams