As the ongoing Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to affect people all over the world, scientists are searching for new, out of the box solutions to treat the virus and cannabis seems to be one of the options they’re looking at.
Experts from the University of Nebraska and the Texas Biomedical Research Institute have been recommending that scientists look into cannabis as a treatment option for COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, mainly due to the anti-inflammatory properties that the herb offers.
Scientists are especially interested in one particular cannabinoid and that’s CBD. CBD’s proven anti-inflammatory properties make it a likely candidate in the treatment of some of the more dangerous symptoms of the coronavirus.
But what makes CBD a suitable treatment option for COVID-19 symptoms and what are its main benefits?
We’ll get to that part in a bit, but first let’s see what CBD actually is, for those of you out there who aren’t yet familiar with this cannabinoid.
What is CBD?
Cannabidiol or CBD is one of the many cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. It is typically derived from the hemp plant, which has less than 0.03% THC, although it can also be derived from the marijuana plant as well.
In recent years, CBD has been used as a health supplement for all types of aches and pains, as a fitness supplement and much more.
CBD is most commonly used in oil form, although it’s available in many different types of products, including edibles, drinks, ointments, tinctures, capsules and more.
But is CBD all that’s hyped up to be and if so, what are the main benefits that it offers?
Cannabis and COVID-19 – Uses and Benefits of CBD Oil
CBD oil has been proven to provide numerous health benefits.
From alleviating acute and chronic pain to reducing inflammation, improving sleep and reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression, CBD has got you covered.
Let’s check out some of its main uses and the amazing benefits that it provides:
1. Mental Health Benefits
CBD oil has been proven to alleviate the symptoms of depression and anxiety. It has been prescribed to patients suffering from PTSD, panic disorders, anxiety disorders and other mental health conditions.
It works by promoting the action of neurotransmitters for serotonin, which is the hormone that plays a role in your mood, behavior, sleep and even digestion.
Studies have shown that CBD acts similarly to antidepressants and anti-anxiety medication, by regulating serotonin levels.
When it comes to COVID-19 infections, anxiety and stress are almost always present in patients who’re battling the virus. This is mainly due to the isolation from family and friends, as well as the seriousness of the illness which can cause fear and stress, taking a toll on the patient’s overall health and immune system. This is where cannabis products such as CBD come into play. CBD can effectively reduce the symptoms of stress and anxiety in patients by increasing their serotonin levels and lowering their cortisol (stress hormone) levels.
2. Pain Relief
Research shows that CBD promotes the activity of the endocannabinoid system by interacting with a core component of the system – its receptors. CBD can therefore help regulate important bodily functions such as appetite, sleep as well as our immune system and our body’s pain response.
The response that CBD produces when interacting with the receptors of the body’s endocannabinoid system leads to pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory effects, and can therefore be successfully used to relieve both chronic and acute pain.
It can be used to alleviate various types of pain, including:
- Arthritis pain
- Cancer pain
- Neuropathic pain (such as that caused by MS) and more
When it comes to COVID-19 infections, cannabis can be effectively used to treat pain related to the infection, such as a sore throat, body aches and headaches.
3. Reduce Cancer-Related Symptoms
With chemotherapy being one of the main causes of cancer-related symptoms, such as fatigue, nausea, weight changes, appetite loss, pain and more, patients need a safe and natural remedy to combat these symptoms and improve their quality of life while they undergo treatment.
There are even some studies that show CBD’s potential in inhibiting the growth of cancerous cells, which would make it a promising anti-cancer drug.
4. Neuroprotective Benefits
Cannabidiol oil can help people suffering from epilepsy, MS, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and other neurological issues and improve the quality of life of the people suffering from these conditions. CBD oil has been proven to reduce the number of seizures in patients suffering from epilepsy, providing hope for those who are resistant to all conventional anti-epileptic drugs. CBD helps regulate the neurological functions in the brain, while also protecting the central nervous system.
Other common benefits of CBD include:
- Prevention and treatment of drug addiction
- Improving sleep and helping treat sleep disorders
- Improving heart health
- Preventing diabetes, and more
Now that we’ve covered the wide array of conditions and issues that CBD oil can help with, we’d like to go back to our main topic which is how CBD can help with COVID-19.
Cannabis and COVID-19
Groundbreaking research into the use of CBD in treating COVID-19 infections shows that the cannabis plant successfully inhibited COVID-19 infection in human lung cells. The study revealed that CBD inhibits the replication of SARS-CoV-2 and promotes the host’s innate immune response.
According to their research, only CBD was capable of inhibiting SARS-CoV-2 infections, while other closely related congeners that share biosynthesis pathways, such as THC, CBDA, CBDV, CBC and CBG were not able to inhibit the infection as CBD could.
The study also found that combining CBD and THC in equal ratios seemed to significantly suppress CBD’s effects.
Here’s how CBD was able to inhibit COVID infections and promote the host’s innate immune response.
One of the ways that CBD was able to suppress viral infection and promote degradation of viral RNA was through induction of the interferon signaling pathway, which plays a critical role in the human immune response. What the researchers concluded was that CBD was able to lower the effective viral titer enough so it can enable normal host activation of the interferon pathway.
What they also found out was that CBD effectively reversed viral induction of cytokines that can lead to a deadly hyperinflammatory response known as a “cytokine storm”, one of the principal causes of death in many COVID patients, which can be observed at later stages of infection.
Note: While the cytokine storm can be both harmful and in cases even deadly, in the early stages of a COVID-19 infection cytokines play a vital role in fighting off the infection, so taking preventative measures that would reduce them might be a bad idea. Always talk to your doctor first before taking any additional medicine or supplements to fight off a COVID-19 infection.
However remarkable these findings are, more research needs to be conducted on the health impact and benefits of CBD in the fight against COVID-19, so patients around the globe can gain an upper hand and be able to fight this deadly virus more effectively.
Cannabis And Covid-19 Risks and Concerns
While consuming cannabis, particularly CBD has been found to be helpful in the treatment of COVID-19, there are certain risks involved.
Since cannabis is commonly consumed through smoking/vaping, in addition to delivering numerous benefits, this mechanism can also deliver and leave harmful substances in the lungs, which can irritate and inflame the lung tissue. This can potentially make these patients exposed to more complications due to COVID-19 by harming their already inflamed lungs furthermore.
Thankfully, there are other methods of consumption that have been proven safe and effective. Those include taking CBD in oil, tincture or edible form, to name a few. And since CBD is the main star when it comes to fighting off COVID-19 infections, you can simply forget about vaping or smoking as methods of consumption and stick to the regular-old cannabidiol oil.
To Sum Up
While CBD has not been approved as a treatment option for COVID-19 specifically, as further research is required to understand how it can affect the virus and whether it can help patients infected by it, there are several benefits that it provides COVID patients.
CBD products may be able to offer relief for patients infected by the coronavirus, by reducing inflammation and scarring of the lung tissue, offering pain relief and reducing the anxiety that comes with fighting a virus such as COVID-19.
If you’re interested in trying CBD in the treatment of COVID-19 symptoms, talk to your doctor first. They’ll be able to help you determine whether CBD is right for you and prescribe the right dose.