CBD may be a Promising Tool in the Fight Against COVID-19

By Jenny Menzel, H.C.

An original study recently conducted by the Dental College of Georgia and Medical College of Georgia and published by Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research points to a promising path in the continued quest to quell COVID-19’s globally devastating health effects.

In spite of the developing controversy and political divide within the nation, it’s widely agreed upon that COVID-19 causes significantly higher death rates in elderly populations and those living with pre-existing health conditions, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

As we near a year into the worldwide pandemic with no scheduled release date for a vaccine, nor a singular curative protocol, researchers are looking to alternatives in newly-legalized cannabidiol (CBD) — a well-studied hemp compound shown to reduce inflammation.

Can this potent anti-inflammatory reduce COVID’s morbidity? Let’s take a look at the findings.

What Researchers Found

COVID-19 can lead to acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) due to pulmonary damage from cytokine storms.

Scientists have identified acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) as the leading cause of mortality in patients with cases of respiratory viral infections, including inflammatory lung symptoms like those found in patients with severe respiratory infections from COVID-19.

COVID-19 can lead to ARDS due to pulmonary damage from cytokine storms — an excessive inflammatory response where pro-inflammatory chemicals such as interleukin (IL)-6 and IL-17 use the body’s cells as a shield to replicate — damaging lung tissue. Patients who experience a severe viral reaction to COVID-19 suffer from increased pulmonary vascular permeability, low blood oxygenation (hypoxemia), abnormal coagulation, and damage to the endothelial and epithelial cells. There is no cure for ARDS, so treatment is aimed at supportive measures, thus ushering in the need to examine other therapeutic modalities.

In the experiment, researchers used male, 12-week-old mice and divided them into three experimental groups: sham, control, and treatment. Scientists administered phosphate-buffered saline (PBS) to the sham group. In contrast, the control and treatment groups were given a synthetic analog of a double-stranded RNA virus, creating a cytokine store similar to what those with severe COVID-19 may experience.

Upon the nasal delivery of the viral infection and observing symptoms of an induced cytokine storm, CBD treatment was injected into the subjects’ abdominal area every other day, for a total of three doses, with the sham and control groups receiving a placebo. After eight days, blood and lung tissue was harvested and analyzed under brightfield microscopy.

In the treatment group, CBD totally or partially reversed ARDS symptoms in the mice by reducing the cytokine storm. Following treatment with CBD, homeostasis and blood oxygen saturation were reestablished, inhibiting the expression of inflammatory IL-6, and lowering the overactive neutrophil levels in the lungs to decrease inflammation. In the blood, treatment with CBD enhanced immune-restoring lymphocyte levels and reduced the levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines.

Reviewing the Results

This study indicated that the nasal administration of high-dose polyriboinosinic acid, a synthetic analogue of double-stranded RNA virus in a murine system, may be a safe and cost-effective tool to study the pathology of COVID-19.

Additionally, while there is no definitive cure for ARDS, CBD showed encouraging outcomes for reducing systemic and localized inflammation — especially in the lungs.

When compared to antiviral agents, using CBD as a natural anti-inflammatory has been deemed safer and less expensive, but more research is needed. To date, CBD’s effect on the respiratory system has only been studied in animals, with further research and human trials needed to secure its role in mediating the inflammatory chemicals and effects in managing lung infections and disorders.

References:

  • Dudášová A, Keir SD, Parsons ME, Molleman A, Page CP. The effects of cannabidiol on the antigen-induced contraction of airways smooth muscle in the guinea-pig. Pulm Pharmacol Ther. 2013 Jun;26(3):373-9. doi: 10.1016/j.pupt.2013.02.002
  • Khodadadi H, Salles ÉL, Jarrahi A, et al. Cannabidiol Modulates Cytokine Storm in Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome Induced by Simulated Viral Infection Using Synthetic RNA. Cannabis Cannabinoid Res. 2020;5(3):197-201. Published 2020 Sep 2. doi:10.1089/can.2020.0043
  • Ribeiro A, Almeida VI, Costola-de-Souza C, et al. Cannabidiol improves lung function and inflammation in mice submitted to LPS-induced acute lung injury. Immunopharmacol Immunotoxicol. 2015;37(1):35-41. doi:10.3109/08923973.2014.976794
  • Vuolo F, Petronilho F, Sonai B, Ritter C, Hallak JE, Zuardi AW, Crippa JA, Dal-Pizzol F. Evaluation of Serum Cytokines Levels and the Role of Cannabidiol Treatment in Animal Model of Asthma. Mediators Inflamm. 2015;2015:538670. doi:10.1155/2015/538670

Jenny Menzel, H.C., is a Certified Health Coach and branding specialist for various alternative healthcare practices, and volunteers her design skills to the annual grassroots campaign, the Lyme Disease Challenge. Jenny was diagnosed with Lyme in 2010 after 8 years of undiagnosed chronic pain and fatigue, and continues to improve by employing multiple alternative therapies, including Āyurveda, Chinese Medicine and Bee Venom Therapy.

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