Coronavirus lung damage can be relieved by hemp extract cannabidiol, or CBD, which can counter much of the inflammation caused by COVID
Research published in the Medical Journal of Australia explains that COVID-19 is a combination of viral pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome or ARDS. Because of the latter, it can cause serious coronavirus lung damage.
Yale Medicine adds that COVID-related ARDS typically “sets in” approximately eight days after symptoms first appear. Additionally, certain people have a higher risk of developing ARDS with this particular coronavirus. This includes those who are older and people with chronic health conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure.
While many potential therapeutics are being explored to help ease coronavirus lung damage, one study reveals that the hemp extract cannabidiol — which is better known as CBD — may play an important role in this process.
CBD and its impact on coronavirus lung damage
This research involved 30 adult male mice that were split into three groups. Two of the groups received daily intranasal administration of polyinosinic:polycytidylic acid (Poly I:C) for three consecutive days to mimic ARDS, with one of these groups also receiving CBD treatments every other day until three doses were administered. The third group received sterile saline intranasally and served as a control.
On day nine of the study, all of the mice were euthanized and their lung tissue was harvested by a blind investigator. A flow cytometry analysis was conducted and revealed that the mice that were administered Poly I:C only had lower T cell frequency, elevated neutrophils, and a reduction of apelin. The mice that were also treated with CBD showed different results. Namely, they had more normal levels of T cells and neutrophils and their apelin was enhanced.
Based on these findings, researchers concluded that CBD helped improve lung structure and exerted “a potent anti-inflammatory effect.” They further noted that it worked by helping to protect the endocannabinoid system, as evidenced by its impact on apelin. The full study was published in the Journal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine on Oct. 15, 2020.
Understanding apelin and disease
Apelin is one of two peptic ligands within the apelinergic system. An article published by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research in the journal Comprehensive Physiology shares that the apelinergic system has a number of important functions. Among them are assisting with vasodilation, modulating glucose and insulin, and aiding in the development of the cardiovascular system.
Because this system interacts with all of these functions, it has also been linked to a variety of diseases. This includes chronic heart failure, diabetes, and obesity. There also appears to be a connection between the apelinergic system and HIV. Thus, targeting this system may hold the key to treating a variety of major health conditions.
Treatment with CBD is not so simple
In a Letter to the Editor published March 31, 2020, by the Research in Social and Administrative Pharmacy journal, Joshua Brown from the University of Florida College of Pharmacy warns that CBD “has complex pharmacological properties.” Thus, taking CBD doesn’t always provide the desired effect.
Brown points to a study involving Epidiolex, the CBD-containing medication approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat serious seizure disorders. Brown says that in this particular study, participants receiving CBD had higher rates of infection — both viral and pneumonia — than those receiving a placebo treatment.
Brown does concede that the average consumer will likely consume lower doses of CBD than contained in this anti-seizure medication. However, those using medical cannabis may consume doses similar to those found in Epidiolex. This could potentially put them at greater risk of infection instead of providing a protective effect.
More research is needed
In the end, more research is needed to fully understand the effect of CBD on COVID-19, coronavirus lung damage, and infection in general. While some studies show promising results, others reveal areas where more information is needed to provide patients the best advice.
In the meantime, educating patients on the potential benefits and risks is critical to helping them make the best decision possible given their health and situation. Discussing dosing is important as well, especially as it relates to the amount of CBD available in some over-the-counter products versus the amount of CBD ingested when using medical marijuana. Starting with lower doses enables patients to better monitor their response to this hemp extract.