At present, scientists are investigating the role of CBD in COVID-19 prevention and management. There is real scientific basis to support such use.
Most people are well aware that researchers are working on multiple drugs and vaccines to prevent and treat COVID-19. They are testing drugs like antivirals, anti-inflammatory, immunomodulators, and so on. At the same time, several biotech companies are testing vaccines.
However, COVID-19 is complex. It is unlike common cold or influenza. This infection is good at overcoming immune defences. It is a lung eater, causing severe damage to pulmonary tissues. It produces a hyper-inflammatory reaction or cytokine storm that leads to multi-organ damage.
The basis for considering CBD for COVID-19
It is now evident that no single drug will work in all cases of Covid-19 due to the very complex nature of the infections. Thus, it makes sense exploring newer approaches, including the role of CBD in the condition.
CBD is known to help with inflammatory conditions. It can alter hyper-inflammatory responses. At the same time, it has immunomodulatory actions too.
Researchers think that CBD may help by reducing disease-related panic and anxiety, controlling immune responses, preventing severe pneumonia, reducing alveolar cell death. It may also help counter oxidative stress.
Earlier research also shows that CBD may have some direct antiviral action, for example it has been to shown to slow the replication of Hepatitis C. However, it is not yet clear if it has any such activity against COVID-19.
All these uses for CBD certainly justify further investigation into its role in fighting this new pandemic. And researchers think that CBD may help in multiple ways.
Latest studies exploring the role of CBD in COVID-19 management
At present, researchers are paying particular attention to the anti-inflammatory properties of CBD. It is because hyper inflammation is one of the primary reasons for high mortality related to the infection.
Researchers warn that this does not mean that smoking marijuana will help, as it will do more damage than good.
In one of the studies, InnoCan pharm and Tel Aviv University specialists tried to find a novel way to deliver CBD directly to inflamed lung cells. In this way, they think that they may considerably reduce disease-related mortality.
What researchers are trying to test is a particular kind of CBD product that can be inhaled. They have created CBD enriched exosomes. Exosomes are special kind of molecules that are readily taken by various tissues, including lung cells.
Researchers expect that by inhaling CBD, it will act where it is required most. It will subdue hyper-inflammatory responses that do more damage to delicate lung tissues than viral attack.
Further research taking place at another medical centre in Israel focuses on CBDs ability to modulate immune responses and counter systemic inflammation.
From the middle of the 20th century, researchers have known that in many systemic infections, the high mortality rate is due to uncontrolled inflammation/cytokine storm. Medical specialists have tried many ways to suppress these hyper responses. One of the known effective ways is to give low dose corticosteroids to the patients, a dose that is enough to prevent extreme inflammation, without suppressing the immune system.
Studies show that steroids like dexamethasone that are commonly and cheaply available may reduce mortality related to COVID-19 by as much as 20%.
Researchers in Israel are studying the role of CBD when used along with low dose steroids. They think that such a combination may further reduce infection-related mortality. Researchers expect that CBD will help without adding to the side effects of steroid therapy. Stero Biotechs has sponsored this research, and it is ongoing.
The above mentioned two studies are focusing on more severe cases, and intend to reduce the disease-related mortality. The use of CBD as a supportive treatments are also being studied at present.
CBD may also have a role in less severe cases of Covid-19, as it may help counter various infection-related symptoms. Studies in this area are essential as most people will not develop severe lung disease. Instead, they will have numerous long-lasting symptoms.
The third study launched by Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Medical Center aims to explore the role of CBD in less severe cases. Investigators think that due to its anti-inflammatory action, it may reduce the risk of lower respiratory tract infection when given in the early stages of the disease.
Though at present most of the research is going in Israel, other countries have also started to take an interest in CBD. Canadian researchers are also keenly exploring the role cannabis can play in COVID-19 treatment.
It is vital to understand that CBD alone may not prevent COVID-19 effectively. One can only use it along with other well-tested measures like social distancing, wearing masks, washing hands, and so on. What CBD may do is reduce the risk of severe viral infection to a degree due to its anti-inflammatory action.
As far as the role of CBD in more severe COVID-19 cases is concerned, it is just too early to say. Once the clinical trials are over, it will be apparent if CBD has any role in the treatment or not. Researchers are exploring the role of CBD along with standard care, as they do not expect CBD to treat the condition when used alone.