In the US, coronavirus infections are yet to show significant signs of slowing down. This has prompted researchers to explore other alternatives in treating this widespread disease. One of the ideas being the potential use of CBD against COVID-19.
CBD, the non-psychoactive component of the cannabis plant, has anti-inflammatory properties that may possibly treat the lung inflammation caused by the coronavirus. Experts from the University of Nebraska and the Texas Biomedical Research Institute are encouraging scientists to further explore this particular cannabinoid.
While no real scientific evidence exists to suggest the effectivity of cannabinoids against COVID-19, the discussion is present among the community.
A peer-reviewed article in Brain, Behaviour, and Immunity suggests that further research is needed to really understand the effect of CBD against those infected by the virus. Emily Earlenbaugh, Forbes contributor and founder of Mindful Cannabis Consulting explained to CBSN that, in severe cases of COVID-19, the body’s immune system overreacts and overproduces cytokines that end up causing a “cytokine storm.”
These are what the body normally produces to fight off infections but too much of cytokines released into a system may cause high fever, inflammation, severe fatigue, nausea, and, in serious cases, death through organ failure. These are the side effects of the aforementioned “cytokine storm.”
Previous research shows that CBD acts as an IL-6 cytokine inhibiter. This means that this particular cannabinoid was able to reduce the production of cytokines in the body.
A particular drug, Tocilizumab, resulted in the “clearance of lung consolidation and recovery” in 90% of 21 treated patients. There were some unfortunate side effects, though, including pancreas inflammation and hypertriglyceridemia. But the cannabis plant’s CBD has shown “beneficial anti-inflammatory diseases” and one particular CBD product has already been approved by the FDA to treat some forms of epilepsy.
Earlenbaugh says that CBD “has very few side effects, so it’s something that’s being looked at as a much more mild treatment.” Additionally, the authors of the study say that CBD reduces anxiety and increases the production of interferons, a protein that helps fight infections.
She does warn though that the research is in its early stages and that using cannabis as a treatment for COVID-19 should still “express caution.” Some researchers have also warned against the use of CBD in the early stages of the infection as it could cause negative side effects. Earlenbaugh says that it may still be some time before any of these questions about the effect of cannabinoids against the coronavirus will receive definite answers.