As the coronavirus continues to spread across the country scientists are starting to look at CBD as a treatment for COVID-19. The plant may help patients suffering from the virus deal with the adverse affects of this new disease. Researchers are looking at how cannabis may prevent contracting the disease in the first place and how infected patients may use it as an antiviral.
How does cannabis treat COVID-19?
One of the reactions to COVID-19 is inflammation in the body. Cannabidiol is shown to reduce inflammation and it doesn't create the psychoactive high that activated THC creates. While THC has great anti-inflammatory properties, most people can't tolerate large doses of THC. The FDA also approved cannabidiol for therapeutic use in epileptic children. This likely gives scientists confidence in their research. One biological reason why cannabidiol is more effective than THC is because humans have CB2 receptors all throughout the body. This makes CBD a more likely candidate for success in treating lung inflammation.
In a recent peer-reviewed article researchers said that “recent reports have suggested that acute infection is associated with a cytokine superstorm, which contributes to the symptoms of fever, cough, muscle pain.” These extreme cases of inflammation can cause pneumonia. Pneumonia clogs up the lungs and makes breathing very challenging or outright impossible.
Previous studies show that CBD can reduce a variety of pro-inflammatory cytokines. These include IL-6, the main focus of other drugs being studied for COVID-19. CBD also shows evidence that it reduces interleukin (IL)-2, IL-1α and β, interferon gamma, inducible protein-10, monocyte chemoattractant protein-1, macrophage inflammatory protein-1α, and tumor necrosis factor-α.
All of these cytokines contribute to the pathology of severe cases of COVID-19. CBD can also be a catalyst to increase the production of interferons. Interferons are a type of signaling protein that fires up immune cells and prevents viruses from replicating.
As if that isn't promising enough, recent studies illustrate that CBD can specifically combat lung inflammation. In an animal study on asthma, CBD lowered production of pro-inflammatory cytokines. This decreased inflammation in the airways. The same study shows CBD also lowers pulmonary fibrosis. This condition is created when lung tissue becomes damaged and scarred. The lung tissue thickens and makes breathing more difficult. This is important, because COVID-19 can also leave patients with serious pulmonary fibrosis.
What are the side effects of CBD and COVID-19?
As with all drugs, scientists must consider any possible adverse side effects. In this case, CBD produces a pretty significant side effect — reduced anxiety. “The many uncertainties associated with the COVID-19 pandemic such as status of the economy, employment and loss of connection can fuel depression, fear and anxiety” scientists explain.
Anecdotal evidence suggests CBD is a prime tool for management of anxiety and may help reduce challenging levels of stress that perpetuate disease.
What's the best CBD to treat inflammation?
It's important to understand that not all CBD is created equal. The entourage effect of cannabinoids is important to consider when choosing a CBD product.
Most of the CBD found online and sold at commercial retail stores is derived from hemp through an isolation process — think Vitamin C pill. CBD found in licensed cannabis retail stores is often derived from cannabis plants that are naturally high in CBD. They are extracted with the other beneficial components of the plant included. Eating an entire orange to get your Vitamin C brings other beneficial enzymes and compounds contained in the whole fruit that don't exist in a pill.
Papa & Barkley makes some of the best CBD products in California. They use a cold, whole plant extraction method. This captures all of the cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, lipids and waxes that contribute to the entourage effect. Many cannabis consumers love the high CBD ratio tincture they make.
Another winner is Care By Design who makes formulated CBD products based on specific ratios and terpenes. Care By Design removes the lipids and waxes, which creates a smoother, almost tasteless experience. Consumers who do not like the taste of cannabis tend to lean toward Care By Design.
While the best preventative for COVID-19 may be quarantine and chill (with cannabis!) it's important to build up a solid base of cannabinoids in the system in the event a person does come in contact with the coronavirus. For anyone suffering with symptoms now, taking heavy doses of CBD will likely help reduce the adverse effects of COVID-19.
As always, consult with your healthcare professional before trying any new product or medication.