Does CBD Have a Role to Play in Treating and Preventing the Novel Coronavirus?
The world is under a dizzying pressure to find a cure for the novel coronavirus that has affected over 14.5 million people worldwide and counting. While a vaccine is yet to be developed, researchers and doctors are looking for new ways to treat this deadly strain of the mutating virus.
Among these new treatment options is CBD derived from cannabis plants. CBD has been long known for its anti-inflammatory properties that make it an effective treatment option that can help cure, or at least, subdue the severe lung inflammation that COVID-19 patients, at more severe stages, suffer from.
With cyclical surges in infection levels and no sure shot cure in the close horizon, researchers are tirelessly testing CBD’s efficiency in treating the novel coronavirus symptoms, of which ARDS happens to be one.
What is ARDS?
One of the most severe effects of infection due to the novel coronavirus is Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome, also referred to as ARDS. ARDS is the failure of the respiratory system and is marked by a rapid commencement of extensive inflammation in the lungs.
ARDS symptoms include short breaths, rapid breathing, inability to breathe properly. These are some of the symptoms that patients with severe COVID -19 infection are also experiencing.
ARDS usually occurs when the alveoli (tiny air sacs) in the lungs start getting filled with fluids. The fluid buildup keeps the lungs from absorbing more oxygen from the air, thus cutting out the oxygen supply to the blood and finally to the body.
Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome generally occurs in people who have suffered significant injuries or are critically ill. But this also happens to be one of the more severe symptoms of the COVID-19 infection.
People who develop ARDS have lower chances of surviving the disease. Also, the rate of survival diminishes with increasing age and the decreasing ability to heal from critical injuries or illnesses.
People who do develop ARDS and survive it often experience lasting damage to their lungs. However, there are instances where ARDS patients have recovered completely.
Symptoms of ARDS:
Shortness of breath
- Low blood pressure
- Labored breathing
- Rapid breathing
- Extreme fatigue
CBD’s role in treating ARDS
Researchers have been finding ways in which CBD derived from cannabis plants can help cure or at least treat COVID-19 symptoms, especially, ARDS, which results due to inflammation in the lungs.
Researchers are trying to figure out how the anti-inflammatory property of CBD can help heal ARDS and give COVID-19 patients some respite from severe breathing problems.
Fortunately, research conducted to date has shown that CBD, indeed, can help reduce the two components that lead to lung inflammation- cytokine production (which is pro-inflammatory) and ACE2 expression. Also, CBD happens to be a potent antiviral that could establish it as a good antiviral treatment for patients suffering from COVID-19.
However, more research is required to establish CBD’s potency as an antiviral when it comes to fighting the novel coronavirus.
One of the researches conducted to affirm the benefits of CBD in healing patients suffering from the more severe symptoms of COVID-19 shows that CBD might positively affect ARDS in COVID-19 patients.
This particular study conducted by the researchers at Augusta University, located in Georgia, mentions that CBD can reduce the effects of acute respiratory distress caused due to ARDS by reducing the overactive inflammatory response. The inflammatory response is also referred to as a cytokine storm. CBD can act as a supportive measure to curb the severity of the cytokine storm. Since there is no actual cure for ARDS yet, any supportive measure to reduce the cytokine storm or its effects is largely helpful in improving the chances of survival in seriously affected COVID-19 patients.
The use of CBD has, therefore, been hailed as one of the most creative and therapeutic measures that can be taken to treat this complex illness.
CBD and its role in cytokine storms
ARDS is a case of the immune system gone rogue. The immune cells fill up and attack the lungs, leading to the blood vessels leaking and blood clotting, which instead leads to a massive drop in blood pressure.
Instead of just dealing with the disease or infection and standing down, the immune cells launch a full-blown attack on the very organ it was supposed to protect. The reason for such a hyperactive immune system could be anything, right from faulty genes, autoimmune disorders, to conditions caused by an infection. Whatever be the cause, the nature of this hyperactive, self-attacking immune system falls under what is called a cytokine storm.
The condition derives its name from the protein called a cytokine that causes the rampage by traveling through the bloodstream. Cytokines are the immune system’s messengers that transmit the message of an infection or attack by moving between cells. They do so to elicit some kind of a response from the body, either increased or decreased immune activity.
When these cytokines become too abundant in the body, the immune system ends up going overboard. The immune cells don’t stop at attacking just the infection but start spreading all over the body and attack healthy organs, as well. They destroy the red and white blood cells and almost always impact the liver, adversely. Blood clots that occur as a result of this overactive immune system lead to little or no blood flow to the rest of the organs. This often results in the patient going into shock that can lead to organ damage and subsequent death.
The presence of IL-6 is also an indicator of cytokine storm susceptibility in patients. Therefore, by reducing the number of IL-6 (Interleukin-6) immune protein in the body, the risks of a possible cytokine storm can be reduced.
According to scientists researching in ways in which CBD can help heal symptoms in COVID patients, CBD might be able to tune down the production of specific cytokines, especially like IL-6, IL-17, and IL-1b, therefore, reducing the inflammation, a possible cytokine storm, as well as the risk of organ failure and death.
The experiments conducted by these researchers supported this theory. The research was conducted on mice that were artificially induced to ARDS with a treatment called Poly(I:C), that mimics the symptoms of respiratory distress in COVID patients. This led to a cytokine storm in the mice, instantly leading to blood saturation shortages to the tune of 10%. The mice started showing symptoms of respiratory distress and were then given CBD. The observations post introduction of CBD into the mice showed that the symptoms of the cytokine storm were partially or totally reversed, and soon returned to their normal, pre-ARDS induction levels.
Although performed on mice, this experiment showed the powerful effect of CBD in reversing a cytokine storm and thereby reducing the adverse effects of one of the worst and most dangerous symptoms of COVID: ARDS.
CBD and homeostasis
CBD plays a critical role in establishing homeostasis in the body. Homeostasis refers to the body being in complete balance. It includes proper sleep, digestion, hormonal balance, fertility, balanced mood levels, normal body temperature, and a strong immune system.
The wellbeing of human beings depends on their bodies being in homeostasis.
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is tasked with keeping the body in homeostasis. ECS was discovered during the tail-end of the 20th century when scientists stumbled upon endocannabinoid anandamide and went on to discover many more such endocannabinoids within the human body.
Endocannabinoids are naturally occurring neurotransmitters found within the human body. These neurotransmitters, along with cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2) distributed all over the central and peripheral nervous system, form the endocannabinoid system.
Endocannabinoids found in the human body resemble the cannabinoid compounds found in the Cannabis Sativa plants. The two share a close resemblance in function and how they can help the body stay in homeostasis.
CBD, the shortened form of cannabidiol, one of the 113+ compounds found in the Cannabis Sativa plants. It is widely used to mimic endocannabinoids in the human body by ingesting it in the form of oil or capsules or applying it topically on injured or wounded areas.
Much like its endocannabinoid counterpart, CBD, when ingested, acts with the ECS to send messages to the CB1 and CB2 receptors to take action whenever the body is out of balance, whether it is lack of sleep, depression, an external wound, or hormonal imbalance.
Additionally, CBD has also been shown to treat symptoms of epilepsy. CBD is rich in a lot of properties. It is an antipsychotic, antidepressant, antiseizure, neuroprotective, anxiolytic. Furthermore, CBD has excellent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It is what makes CBD such a beneficial treatment option when it comes to ARDS symptoms in COVID-19 patients.
Can CBD’s antiviral property help fight the novel coronavirus?
CBD is known for its antiviral properties. Researches have been conducted to study its effects on viruses such as hepatitis C, HIV, HSV (Herpes Simplex Virus), and other influenza viruses on mice or monkeys. However, no studies have been conducted yet to check the effects of CBD on humans suffering from these viruses or the novel coronavirus. Even though it might be an option of treatment, yet the lack of formal studies and research on humans does not state its capability of fighting the COVID-19 virus, conclusively.
How can CBD improve immunity?
The immune system comprises organs, tissues, and cells. Two types of WBCs or white blood cells play a major role in ensuring immunity: lymphocytes and phagocytes.
Each attack invading cells in their own way and have a different role to play. Lymphocytes, also referred to as B-cells or T-cells, destroy foreign substances, also known as antigens. Additionally, it also helps the body remember these antigens, so that next time it attacks, the body can respond quickly and with a better success rate.
Phagocytes, on the other hand, absorb the invading cells to neutralize them, thereby stopping them from spreading further.
The immune system is also responsible for detecting cells that are not functioning well anymore and eliminating them. Once the immune system identifies these cells, it begins apoptosis, which refers to cell death, thereby stopping the rogue cells from multiplying or clumping up into a tumor.
CBD is a known anti-inflammatory compound which possesses immunomodulatory and immunosuppressant properties, that is, CBD:
- Has anti-inflammatory properties
- Can promote apoptosis
- Can prevent rapid cellular growth
- Can suppress the production of cytokine proteins (as discussed earlier) reducing the chances of cytokine storms
However, all this is only required when the body is under the large-scale attack of foreign substances, viral, bacterial, or fungal. People with a healthy immune system might not need the help of CBD, as it is not advisable to suppress your immune functions when everything is working fine. However, in people who suffer from autoimmune diseases, where the immune system goes rogue and starts attacking an otherwise healthy body, CBD would be considered a blessing.
CBD as an anti-inflammatory drug that can help people suffering from various internal and external inflammations to a large extent.
All-in-all, CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties and its ability to arrest a cytokine storm and bring the lungs back to their normal functioning self are one of the biggest benefits that it stands to offer COVID affected patients. However, there is still a lot of study and research pending in this field to prove this as a conclusive result.
The role of CBD in keeping the body in homeostasis cannot be undermined. A healthy body is far less likely to suffer the ravages of severe COVID-19 symptoms than the ones that are weak and suffer from a weakened immune system.
By taking steps such as ensuring enough sleep, a healthy diet rich in Vitamin C, flavonoids, zinc, and other micronutrients, practicing deep breathing, and exercising social distancing, you can reduce your chances of contracting the novel coronavirus. However, even if you still end up contracting the virus, know that healthy individuals have a higher chance of recuperating right at home, with lesser symptoms altogether.
Therefore, it is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle. If you would like to add CBD products to your daily lifestyle to give it a boost, you can choose from any of its many variants right from Pain Relief Spray, Pain Relief Roll-On, Pain Relief Cream, Facial Serum, Face Cream, Anti-Aging Facial Serum, Glow Oil, Sleeping Mask, CBD Must, CBD Plus, Relief, Eye Serum, Body Oil, Recovery Lotion, Facial Cream.
It is recommended that you consult a medical practitioner before you get started on your CBD routine.
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