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CBD and COVID-19: How CBD Effects on COVID Patients?

By oySeptember 19, 2021CBD Blog, CBD Guide
viral RNA expression

CBD and COVID 19: is there any connection?

While it might seem crazy that CBD could affect a disease as serious as COVID-19, some experts suspect exactly that. Why? Because of the way CBD may reduce inflammation in the lungs. 

Keep reading to learn more about COVID, CBD, and how they intersect. If you’ve been looking for natural ways to supercharge your immune system, this article is for you!

COVID-19 

Coronavirus (also called COVID-19, COronaVIrus Disease 2019) is a respiratory virus that originated in China near the end of 2019. 

COVID-19 is known for being extremely contagious. So far a whopping 219 million people have contracted COVID worldwide — so far. In older adults and those with preexisting health issues, COVID-19 can be especially problematic. 

How does COVID-19 spread?

COVID-19 gets its contagiousness from the way it spreads. It can be spread by:

  • Breathing in air that was exhaled from an infected person
  • Coming into contact with droplets from an infected person who coughed or sneezed
  • Intimate contact with an infected person
  • Touching your eyes, nose, or mouth after touching an infected surface

Can you get COVID-19 from touching an infected surface or object?

Yes. COVID-19 viral molecules can stay on some surfaces for several days. For this reason, it’s recommended to regularly clean certain surfaces. These surfaces include light switches, doorknobs, desks, tables, handles, keyboards, phones, computers, toilets, and sinks.

viral gene expression

What are the symptoms of COVID-19 infection?

The symptoms of COVID-19 can vary wildly depending on a person’s age and health status. People who are deficient in vitamin D may also have a hard time with COVID — so be sure to get some sun! 

Symptoms can first appear between 1 and 14 days post-exposure. The most common symptoms include:

  • Chills
  • Aches
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Sore throat 
  • Cough/chest pressure
  • Dizziness/confusion
  • Loss of taste or smell
  • Runny/stuffy nose
  • Muscle weakness
  • Trouble breathing
  • Vomiting/diarrhea

What should I do if you suspect you have COVID-19?

Call your doctor/health care provider immediately. They can answer any questions you might have and direct you towards COVID-19 testing. 

While you wait for more direction, consider boosting your immunity using natural methods.

We’ll get into how COVID-19 works and how CBD might provide benefits soon, but let’s look over the immune system and its inner workings first. 

To put it super simply, the immune system is in charge of keeping track of any virus or bacteria that comes into your body. When it detects a bad ‘input,’ its job is to fight that input off before it can do any damage. 

Your immune system also keeps tabs on the health of all your body’s cells. Most people don’t realize that their bodies produce cancer cells virtually all the time — and they don’t have to realize it, thanks to their immune systems.  According to UK cancer researcher Tim Elliot, “the immune system is recognizing and destroying little cancers as they develop all the time.” [1]

The immune system is impressively complex. It contains all sorts of specialized immune cells, and these cells are located throughout the bloodstream, bone marrow, lymphatic system, vital organs, mucous membranes, and skin. You’re probably familiar with the immune system’s white blood cells, but these WBC’s are really just the start. 

 

COVID Research: the cytokine storm

Roughly a year ago, immunologist Babak Baban was thinking about COVID-19 and how it affected the immune system. What was he thinking about? The very thing that makes COVID-19 severe in some cases: something called the cytokine storm. 

This ‘storm’ involves an overreaction of one’s immune system, resulting in widespread inflammatory-related damage and eventual cell death. And when enough vascular cells die, the patient’s life becomes at risk, too. 

Babak realized that the cytokine storm didn’t have many viable treatment methods. As an associate researcher at the University of Augusta, Georgia, Baban was very familiar with CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties. He’d previously studied CBD’s effects on melanoma, wound healing, neurodegenerative diseases, and more. 

In all of these cases, CBD had a central effect: it kept immunity in check enough to regulate inflammation and suppress viral infection. Did that mean CBD could help COVID patients and their lungs avoid a cytokine storm? Only time — and more research — would tell.   

SARS-CoV-2 and cytokine storm

Let’s dive deeper into CBD and SARS-CoV-2 research and take a closer look at what happens during a cytokine storm. Virtually all severe cases of COVID-19 involve this storm in one way or another…so what is it?

The first step in the cytokine storm is infection. The second step, however, is where things become out-of-the-ordinary. In this second step, the immune system drastically overreacts to the infection/threat. This suboptimal response can be caused by a variety of things:

  • Old age/poor health
  • Vitamin D deficiency
  • Underlying health conditions
  • Suboptimal omega 3/6 levels in tissue

Whatever a cytokine storm is initially caused by, it’s marked by the same primary thing: an extreme overproduction of inflammatory cytokine molecules. These molecules can help the immune system do its job — in normal cases. But if they get out of balance, bad things happen. 

These pro-inflammatory cytokines proceed to cause inflammation, fibrosis, and more. Fibrosis leaves the lungs scarred and makes breathing difficult. It’s a major driving force behind many so-called “long-haul” COVID cases. 

Preventing cytokine production?

Understanding what goes into a cytokine storm can help us find solutions. If a substance could stop cytokine production, then maybe it could also suppress inflammation and protect the lungs of COVID-19 patients from fibrosis. 

Thankfully, several natural substances may reduce inflammation and cytokine production enough to do exactly that. 

Several studies show that Cannabis Sativa, a broad classification for cannabis that contains some combination of CBD and THC, may reduce the production of two types of cytokines: TNF-a and IL-6. These are actually the two major cytokines involved in the cytokine storm!

CBD vs. Sepsis

Yet another facet of severe COVID cases is something called sepsis, or acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). Sepsis impacts more than 10% of COVID patients — and its aftereffects aren’t pretty. 

Thankfully for these patients, a Canadian biotech company called Tetra Bio-Pharma is currently investigating whether or not cannabinoids could help. The company’s lead researchers think so: “cannabinoids that act at CB2R the type 2 cannabinoid receptor have shown promise for reducing the acute inflammatory response in experimental sepsis and some of these could be useful in patients with SARS-CoV-2.” 

According to Tetra Bio-Pharma, this means that cannabinoids could “prevent the progression of symptoms of the acute lung injury.”

host cell rna

 

CBD Research: reduced lung inflammation

Animal studies have hinted at CBD’s value for severe COVID patients, too. 

One mouse study from 2020 found that CBD may reduce inflammatory cytokines even while acting on its own, apart from THC. This reduction was shown to improve clinical COVID symptoms, making the disease more bearable in the process. 

Other researchers have focused on CBD’s interaction with specialized lung receptors. One such receptor, called ACE2, has been shown to be involved in severe COVID cases. If CBD could modulate ACE2, then it may reduce lung inflammation enough to reduce cytokine levels through yet another pathway. 

What did this study’s authors theorize? That “Cannabis Sativa, especially strains high in the anti-inflammatory cannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD), has been proposed to modulate gene expression and inflammation and harbor anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties.” [3

Researchers went on to explain that CBD-rich extracts “may become a useful and safe addition to the treatment of COVID-19 as an adjunct therapy.”

lung inflammation

 

How CBD Treatment and COVID-19 interact

While early research on CBD seemed to show that it slowed down immune function, newer research has shown it’s not that simple. CBD may actually regulate immune activity via its effects on the endocannabinoid system. In other words, it seems to be pretty good at keeping things in balance! 

And that means, in theory at least, that CBD could keep the immune systems of COVID patients in check. 

One comprehensive new study described just how this might be done — more on those details next. [2]

CBD, COVID and the immune system

The study found that CBD may:

  • Promote the apoptosis, or targeted destruction, of harmful cells
  • Lower oxidation levels and production within WBC’s 
  • Lower inflammatory markers within WBC’s
  • Lower inflammatory markers like TNF-a
  • Have antioxidant properties
  • Lower cytokine production
  • Lower nitric oxide levels

To sum things up, this study’s researchers explained that CBD’s effects on the immune system “ can involve either innate or adaptive responses.” In other words, CBD works holistically!

And that means there’s more research to be done. “Increasing our understanding of CBD,” the researchers clarified, “will help in interpreting effects of CBD in humans that are naturally exposed to a variety of pathogens.” 

 

Pharmaceutical CBD for COVID-19?

Yet another approach to the CBD-COVID connection is being investigated in Israel. 

According to the Jerusalem Post, biotech company Innocan has just raised $5 million CAD to research the effect of CBD-infused liposomes/exosomes on COVID cases. This uniquely high-tech delivery method involves exosomal ‘homing missiles’ that help bring CBD into inflamed cells. 

Researchers explain what happens next: “when the cell healing properties of the exosomes are combined with the anti-inflammatory properties of CBD, it is expected to have a high synergetic effect.” [4

According to lead research and professor Dani Offen, this research is revolutionary in more ways than one. “We’re facing a challenging time,” he says, “but I believe our unique approach holds a promise to offer a treatment for COVID-19, pneumonia, and perhaps for other lung inflammations as well.”  

Could terpenes help with COVID?

Israel is practically the capital of cannabinoid research — so in a way it’s not surprising that yet another Israeli research team is investing the CBD and COVID link. 

This particular team is from the Israel Institute of Technology, and they’re directing their focus on cannabis terpenes and their potential ability to reduce cytokine-related inflammation.

For those of you who are wondering, terpenes are the ‘scent molecules’ found in hemp and many hemp-derived products, including full-spectrum CBD oil. Terpenes actually give CBD oil much of its power. 

What makes these researchers think terpenes could help the lungs of COVID patients? A whole lot of prior research. Studies dating back to 2002 imply that terpenes may help patients with SARS-COV-1, a close relative of our current coronavirus. They appear to do this by inhibiting viral replication. [6]

Considering that hemp contains hundreds of terpenes, the idea that CBD oil might help via the terpene pathway seems pretty plausible. 

After all, countries like Myanmar were using black pepper and other spices to ward off coronavirus before better treatment options became available. Why this method? Likely because black pepper contains a powerful terpene, called beta-caryophyllene, that works to activate the very same receptors that CBD does. 

CBD and COVID: CBD as an antioxidant

Is CBD an antioxidant?

That depends on who you ask, but one group that has surprisingly answered yes is none other than the US government. In fact, the government held a research patent on CBD’s antioxidant properties at one point:

“This newfound property makes cannabinoids like cannabidiol useful in the treatment and prophylaxis of wide variety of oxidation associated diseases.” [7

Just as important, CBD’s antioxidant properties may be selective. It may actually increase oxidation in some areas (as a way to damage malignant cells, for example) while decreasing oxidation in others. By working through the endocannabinoid system, CBD may reduce lung oxidation the ‘smart’ way — not too little, but also not too much. 

Is CBD antibacterial to lung epithelial cells?

In addition to the anti-inflammatory component of any successful viral defense, anti-bacterial items can also help. 

Is CBD antibacterial, you might ask?

Possibly. But an even stronger hemp-derived antibacterial agent can be found in cannabigerol, or CBG. One 2020 study out of Canada reported that CBG  “proved to be marvelous at tackling pathogenic bacteria.” This study’s authors were impressed enough by CBG that they’re now investigating how it might be used as an antibiotic. [8

CBD for the host innate immune response 

An essential part of the immune system that we didn’t mention earlier is something called the B cell. B cells are specialized cells that quench viruses and pathogens by releasing certain antibodies.

You can think of them as the immune system’s initial line of defense. B cells are considered part of the adaptive immune system, since your body picks up new types of B cells as it encounters new viruses throughout the course of life. 

One recent study out of South Carolina found that one’s endocannabinoid system and immune system may actually communicate with each other en route to promoting the activity of B cells. And that means, theoretically at least, that anything that feeds the endocannabinoid system could be helpful to B Cells. [9]

CBD for acute respiratory distress syndrome

A mice study published in the Neuroimmunomodulation Research Group stated that CBD may “improve lung function and inflammation in mice submitted to LPS-induced acute lung injury.” [10] This may reduce the risk of acute respiratory distress syndrome, or ARDS. 

 

What the experts say about CBD 

According to Dr. David Allen, “more people will be saved by the manipulation of the endocannabinoid system than are currently saved by surgery.” As a retired cardiac surgeon, we think it’s pretty likely that Dr. Allen knows what he’s talking about. According to another article he wrote, Dr. Allen also feels that cannabinoids may protect the immune system from viral onslaught.” [11]

Fellow cannabis experts in Israel sem to agree. “We estimate that our CBD-based treatment can enhance the current treatment of those patients who are in life-threatening conditions,” say researchers at the Rabin Medical Center in Israel. These researchers are dialing in on CBD’s ability to reduce the cytokine storm. [12]

Researchers in Canada are looking at CBD’s potential antiviral effects. According to Canadian researcher Dr. Igor Kovalchuk, “it’s possible that medical cannabis products could become a safe adjunct therapy for the treatment of COVID-19.”

Meanwhile, other experts affirm that CBD’s safety profile is nearly unmatched. Dosage as high as 1500mg/day is safe and side-effect-free. One great Forbes article states that CBD may “reduce SARS-CoV2 induced lung inflammation/ pathology and disease severity.” one great Forbes article states. [13]

And while many treatments have side effects, CBD may actually have more of a side benefit: increased calmness in the face of social, economic, and employment uncertainties. 

 

CBD and COVID: products to use

If you’re looking for CBD products to boost your immune system naturally, consider premium full spectrum CBD products from Unabis.

If you’d like to try, feel free to try any of our four different CBD Oil Drops. Each and every one of them is designed to take sublingually and boost your immunity the natural way. 

 

CBD and COVID 19: Summing things up

To sum up this article, CBD may provide a safe and effective way to keep your immune system running strong amidst all of today’s unknowns and uncertainties. Here are the takeaway points:

COVID-19 continues to be a worldwide problem. It’s especially problematic for older individuals or those with preexisting health conditions. 

CBD & the host innate immune response

The immune system is a person’s first safeguard against COVID-19. A strong immune system may be able to fight COVID via antibodies, B cells, anti-inflammatory actions, and more. 

CBD may provide a holistic way to keep your immune system strong.

CBD and COVID inflammation

CBD and COVID 19 have something in common: inflammation. COVID increases it, while CBD may decrease it. 

A growing number of scientific studies are bringing the above points from theory to reality. 

Some studies are investing CBD-related terpenes, while others are placing CBD into new and novel products like the CBD-infused exosome. 

The future of CBD treatment for COVID

Cannabinoid experts from across the world affirm that CBD may be a promising therapeutic agent for those who have contracted COVID or may contract COVID-19 in the future. 

In a world full of uncertainties, one of the most freeing things to do is focus on doing what you can — whether that’s taking CBD or exercising or eating right — to naturally build up your health! 

 

Disclaimer: The statements made regarding cannabis plant (CBD) products have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. CBD products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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