Lab studies on CBD and COVID in mice showed that CBD seemed to ‘significantly downregulate’ an inflammatory response within the lungs
Research has linked cannabidiol — or CBD as it is better known — with a variety of potential health-related benefits. The National Institute on Drug Abuse shares that among them are:
- anti-seizure effects for those diagnosed with drug-resistant epilepsy;
- analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties that benefit individuals with conditions like multiple sclerosis and cancer;
- positive impact on mental health conditions such as anxiety;
- and even offering “therapeutic value” for individuals being treated for substance use disorder.
One new study suggests that CBD may also provide benefits for patients who have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
CBD and COVID and the lungs
Johns Hopkins shares that the coronavirus known as COVID-19 can cause major lung issues such as pneumonia or acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). In the case of the latter, the air sacs within the lungs become fluid-filled, making it difficult to breathe and sometimes requiring that the patient be put on a ventilator to ensure that the body gets enough oxygen.
Individuals with this form of lung failure can suffer long-term effects, which include pulmonary scarring. When the ARDS is severe, the patient may not survive. This is where CBD and COVID comes into play as a possible deterrent.
CBD’s effects on COVID-19
On July 16, 2020, Augusta University published a news release revealing joint research conducted by The Dental College of Georgia and Medical College of Georgia.
After performing laboratory studies on CBD and COVID, these institutions reported that CBD seemed to “significantly downregulate” an inflammatory response within the lungs. They added that this type of effect would allow COVID-19 patients to better recover while also improving the flow of oxygen-rich blood throughout the body.
Conducted on mice, those treated with CBD over the course of three days wound up with higher oxygen levels and lower cytokine levels. Cytokines can incite inflammation whereas CBD seemed to reduce their effects, thereby also reducing their destruction to the lungs. Researchers suggest that it appears to work due to its similarity to endocannabinoids, which naturally help our body control many processes designed to elicit healthy body function.
Augusta University stresses that the reason this is important is because as many as 50% of patients who require ventilation aren’t able to fight off the virus and eventually succumb to its damage. If treatment could help the body naturally fight this inflammation, it could potentially decrease this mortality rate.
This research further indicates that, after taking a closer look at the mice’s lungs, any damage that previously existed to these organs “had totally or partially resolved.” This included issues such as tissue overgrowth, swelling, and even scarring.
Should patients use CBD if they could have the coronavirus?
One study’s results do not prove that CBD is an effective treatment option for all patients diagnosed with or suspected of having COVID-19. More research needs to be conducted on CBD and COVID to make a clear connection, as well as to designate a therapeutic dosage amount and protocol. This includes performing studies to better understand if CBD might also have a positive impact on other organs potentially impacted by the coronavirus, such as the heart and brain.
So, should patients who think they have contracted COVID-19 start their own CBD treatment regimen? Researchers at Augusta say that the answer is no and worry that doing so may actually have an opposite effect.
In the study, mice were given the CBD at roughly the same time that a person would decide to seek medical care versus trying to treat at home. The authors have a concern that if it is taken any earlier, it could potentially interfere with the body’s normal immune response.
Using CBD safely
Until such time that there is adequate evidence in place, patients should be encouraged to discuss CBD usage with their primary care physicians, whether for the treatment of COVID-19 or any other health-related condition.
For those who are given the clearance to learn whether this hemp plant extract offers them any individualized health benefits, Project CBD suggests that it is best to encourage patients to “start low, go slow.” In other words, begin with a low-dosage product and see if it offers any positive effects. If after two days there isn’t a noticeable difference, increase the dosage and monitor the results.
Taking this approach also helps reduce the likelihood of experiencing negative side effects. It enables patients to learn more about how their body will react to this cannabinoid based on their personal sensitivity or even the time of day they take the extract.