Many U.S. states have legalized marijuana (cannabis) over the past few years, for medical use (or medical and recreational use). Cannabis is still illegal under federal law, in part because it contains tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), an ingredient that will get a person high.
But another ingredient in marijuana, cannabidiol (CBD), is legal, and in studies it has proven effective to dampen inflammation. Scientists worldwide are now racing to see if CBD is effective for reducing the cytokine storm that happens in severe COVID-19 infections. In a cytokine storm, the body responds to an infection with so much inflammation it becomes overwhelmed with swelling and pain; some organs can even cease to function.
Research from Israel suggests that CBD can help in the cytokine storms that happen in severe COVID-19. The research is being performed by Eybna, a company that specializes in terpene-based medicines, and CannaSoul Analytics, led by cannabis researcher Professor David “Dedi” Meiri.
The researchers found that giving patients terpenes along with CBD reduced inflammation more than giving them CBD alone. Terpenes are the substances that given marijuana its distinctive smell and taste.
The CBD-terpenes combo reduced inflammation even more than treatment with dexamethasone, a corticosteroid already known to help against coronavirus cytokine storms. In the new study, giving a patient CBD combined with terpenes was 3 times more effective at inhibiting cytokine activity than giving a patient dexamethasone.
Results of other studies also suggest that CBD might help reduce inflammation in a cytokine storm. A study published in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research from Augusta University, Georgia, found that CBD can reduce the cytokine storm and excessive lung inflammation, potentially helping COVID-19 patients with acute respiratory distress (ARDs).
Said corresponding author Dr. Babak Baban of the Dental College of Georgia at Augusta University:
“ARDS is a major killer in severe cases of some respiratory viral infections, including severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and we have an urgent need for better intervention and treatment strategies.”
Researchers writing in Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, found that CBD had “beneficial anti-inflammatory effects in pre-clinical models of various chronic inflammatory diseases,” and speculated that it could help in patients infected with the coronavirus.
CBD is known to reduce anxiety and increase production of proteins called interferons that help the body fight infections. According Emily Earlenbaugh, co-founder of Mindful Cannabis Consulting, CBD is an IL-6 cytokine inhibitor and thus helps reduce the body’s production of cytokines.
But if CBD is used too soon after a patient becomes infected with COVID-19, it could be counterproductive. Cytokines are important for fighting off infections. If they are reduced too soon, the body won’t fight off the infection properly.
Needless to say, it’s important to talk to your doctor before using CBD products to fight a coronavirus infection.
Over 160 trials on the effects of CBD are active or recruiting, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health. To date, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved CBD to treat only one medical condition: epilepsy.
Disclaimer: This article does not provide medical advice. Do not take action based solely on this article and always consult with an appropriate healthcare professional. This article is purely for informational purposes.