With COVID-19 continuing its spread across the globe, researchers are trying to find multiple options for treatment, including existing pharmaceutical drugs.
CBD and medical cannabis are two options that are gaining a lot of attention.
However, while preliminary research looks promising, it’s too early to say that these options are a safe and effective way of treating the virus.
As scientists worldwide compete in search for a coronavirus vaccine, more and more studies are indicating that CBD, the natural medicinal compound derived from hemp, could be used as a potential therapy to treat advanced COVID-19 symptoms.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advise against vaping or smoking CBD, THC, and nicotine products, as they may increase the risk or coronavirus complications.
However, international researchers believe that alternative methods of consumption, such as intranasal application, could be beneficial.
A study about CBD and ARDS
Researchers from the Augusta University in Georgia recently published results from a study that revealed high concentrations of CBD might be useful in the treatment of ARDS, or Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome.
This condition, also known as a ‘cytokine storm’ is prevalent in many severe coronavirus cases, and also affects some patients living with autoimmune diseases or other viruses.
When ARDS takes effect, a patient’s own autoimmune system floods organs with cytokines, which results in dangerous levels of inflammation. This reaction can increase lung damage and lead to earth in coronavirus patients.
Study co-author Dr Jack Yu said "Our laboratory studies indicate pure CBD can help the lungs recover from the overwhelming inflammation, or cytokine storm, caused by the COVID-19 virus, and restore healthier oxygen levels in the body,”
The study revealed that CBD could down-regulate cytokines, helping to improve oxygen levels and promoting the recovery of damaged lung tissue.
The Dental College of Georgia and Medical College of Georgia researchers also took part in the study, with results published in the review journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research.
Researchers from the University of Nebraska and the Texas Biomedical Research Institute, also took part in the study, citing the study’s publication in the peer review journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity.
Can CBD help a specific enzymes that COVID-19 attaches to?
In Canada, research at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada, studied several strains of cannabis for medicinal effects.
The university had previously developed over 800 Cannabis sativa strains under an exclusive cultivation license granted by the governmental agency ‘Health Canada.’
Authors from these studies discovered that extracts from strains high in CBD might help to regulate a specific enzyme that COVID-19 attaches to; the virus is known to use this enzyme to infect cells where exposure is prevalent.
This includes lung tissue, the gastrointestinal tract, and oral and nasal mucosa, amongst others.
Named the ACE2 (angiotensin-converting enzyme II), researchers utilised 3D models to check whether formulations high in CBD would block the enzyme, thus potentially reducing the virus’ ability to infect cells.
Although this is a preliminary study, there is hope that the findings will encourage further research. Therefore, therapies could be invented that could help prevent or lessen the severity of coronavirus.
Some authors also agree on the potential benefits that CBD supplementation offers mental and physical health, stating: “… randomised clinical trials to test the efficacy of CBD on alleviating anxiety and fear associated with COVID-19 infection and its consequences on people’s physical, social, and psychological well-being may be beneficial in the future.”
Results can be accessed on the peer review website Preprints.
The anti-inflammatory properties of CBD could help against Covid-19?
On July 1st, a study paper reported about another study that looked at the potential benefits of CBD and opioid treatment for severe inflammation and cytokine storm associated with coronavirus.
That study, “Opioids/cannabinoids as a potential therapeutic approach in COVID-19 patients,” can be accessed in the Expert Review of Respiratory Medicine.
The study concluded, “It is suggested that clinical trials could be conducted on opioids/cannabinoids products with immunomodulatory activity. We hope that, with great efforts, scientific support, and sharing of information, the overcoming of COVID-19 will come soon.”
Harnessing the Medicinal Benefits of CBD.
In the Canadian Lethbridge Study, a team screened cannabis Sativa extracts using artificial 3D models of human, oral, intestinal and airway tissues. The research revealed that 13 of the extracts potent in CBD were capable of modulating ACE2 effectively.
Luckily, as these extracts are high in CBD but extremely low in THC, people would be unable to experience the psychoactive effects associated with cannabis.
Although this study has not been peer-reviewed as of yet, the research team thinks that these specially manufactured Sativa lines may be used to develop mouthwashes and other preventative treatments in the future.
Given the scale of this global pandemic, all possible therapeutic avenues must be explored.
The wealth of awareness of CBD’s effectiveness for pain as well as potentially combating various other issues, including anxiety and arthritis, lends additional credibility to the products that Dr Kovalchuck suggests.
Suppose this research is perceived positively by the scientific community and encourages additional studies into using CBD to combat COVID-19.
In that case, it could help to remove the negative connotations associated with cannabis that have been around since the prohibition era.