Back in March, COVID-19 took the world by storm. Since that time, theres been a desperate search for anything that can treat, cure, or even prevent this virus. While we still don’t have all the answers, cannabis has surprisingly found a spotlight within this pandemic.
It began with the initial lockdowns. When most businesses were told to shut down, cannabis dispensaries within most states were deemed essential. It’s safe to say public perception has come a long way from Reefer Madness. Just like groceries, cannabis was now viewed as a necessity for many.
Now researchers are discovering cannabis-derived CBD may actually help those struggling with severe infections of COVID-19. While the evidence remains limited, cannabis holds a lot of promise to – once again – be a therapeutic agent in our fight against disease.
How Does COVID-19 Effect the Body?
As we all know by this point, COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that attacks the lungs. When any area of our body is introduced to a harmful toxin such as this virus, it naturally responds with inflammation.
Inflammation is our immune system’s response to fight against anything that damages cells. In the process, chemicals are released (antibodies and proteins) along with an increase in blood flow to the targeted area. ¹
While inflammation is a natural process meant to help us, it can cause a number of discomforting symptoms. In the case of COVID-19 and lung inflammation, the symptoms are as follows: ²
- Congestion (runny nose)
- Fever or chills
- Loss of taste or smell
- Muscle or body aches
- Nausea or vomiting
- Shortness of breath (difficulty breathing)
- Sore throat
While COVID-19 isn’t fatal for everyone, medical professionals still aren’t sure what the long-term effects of this pandemic will be. Some have speculated that the virus may cause long-term (or even permanent) damage to the body and also holds the potential to return.
With that said, it’s in our best interest to not allow the body to react in a way that can harm us more than it can help. And this is where CBD comes in.
CBD May Reduce Lung Inflammation
CBD has been hailed as a natural anti-inflammatory. So much so, that many have already used it to fight against chronic pain and other medical conditions that cause inflammation. ³
In a recent study by Augusta University in Georgia, it was discovered that CBD had a very positive impact on acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). The research has garnered much attention as ARDS is a dangerous symptom of COVID-19 and will come about when the inflammatory response is overactive. ⁴
Being as COVID-19 is so new, there aren’t any forms of medication that are known to treat the more serious symptoms. The authors also noted, “currently, other than supportive measures, there is no definitive cure for ARDS, illustrating the urgent need for creative and effective therapeutic modalities to treat this complex condition.”
As the research shows, CBD can help reduce pro-inflammatory production. It does so by decreasing certain cytokines, including interleukin (IL)-6, IL-1b, and IL-17. While such measures won’t cure COVID-19, they can definitely reduce the risk of respiratory distress and damage.
Conducting the Research
The research team at Augusta University began their experiments by giving mice Poly(I:C). This would induce an artificial ARDS and promote symptoms we’ve witnessed from severe cases of COVID-19.
Within the mice, blood oxygen saturation reduced by 10% and, in turn, structural damage began to form on their lungs. Once these harmful effects were observed, the mice were then given a dose of CBD.
The result was, in the words of the authors, “these symptoms were totally or partially reversed and returned to the level and condition of the normal after treatment with CBD.” More particularly, it was observed that there was a reduction in IL-6.
“CBD reversed all these inflammatory indices and partially re-established homeostasis,” note the authors.
These claims are quite significant as much of the research concerning CBD as of this time remains preliminary. With that said, researchers still don’t fully understand how CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system (ECS).
However, it’s always been theorized that CBD will influence the ECS in a way that balances it out – or, returns it to a state of homeostasis. And this recent study confirms these theories hold value.
Other Notable Findings
It’s also worth mentioning that CBD had increased lymphocyte levels within the mice. These are vital for the development of white blood cells that fight off infections.
From this discovery, the researchers went as far as to say that CBD could play an immunotherapeutic role in treating COVID-19 and other severe respiratory viral infections.
In their own words, “the current data support the notion that the anti-inflammatory function of CBD may reduce cytokine storm and mitigate the effects of exaggerated inflammation. Considering all potential regulatory effects of CBD as well as the vast distribution of endocannabinoid system in the body, it is plausible that CBD may be used as a therapeutic candidate in the treatment of various inflammatory conditions including COVID-19 and other virus-induced ARDS.”
Unfortunately – the only downside to this study (along with many CBD studies for that matter) is it’s still in the preliminary stages. With that, the researchers aren’t even sure as to how CBD will affect human subjects under these circumstances.
Something Worth Considering
As mentioned, the reason CBD may work for severe COVID cases is that people with such cases are experiencing an overactive immune system. It’s common knowledge among people who’ve researched CBD that it holds the power to inhibit immune functioning. ⁵
However, this may not be a good option for those whose immune systems aren’t overactive and, in turn, are needed to fight against viral infection.
With that said, it’s probably not in most people’s best interest to take CBD for COVID-19. Of course, more research is necessary to confirm any of the statements made throughout this article.
If you have tested positive for COVID-19 and/or struggling with COVID-19 symptoms, it’s highly recommended you consult medical professionals before taking any supplements to combat this virus.
Published and Written by Paul James in Weed World Magazine Issue 148