COVID-19 treatment There are certainly some high hopes for a coronavirus breakthrough! As the coronavirus outbreak continues to rise rapidly globally, many are waiting and hoping for treatments to be developed that might treat, cure, or prevent COVID-19 the potentially deadly disease.
According to interviews and a study conducted by a team of Canadian scientists, they believe that they’ve found strong strains of cannabis that could help prevent or treat coronavirus infections.
Researchers from the University of Lethbridge said a study in April showed at least 13 cannabis plants that were high in CBD which appeared to affect the ACE2 pathways that the virus uses to access the body. The results, printed in online journal Preprints, indicated that hemp extracts high in CBD may help prevent COVID-19 by blocking proteins that provide a ‘gateway’ for the virus to enter the host cells.
Igor Kovalchuk, one of the researchers on this study also suggested that cannabis could reduce the virus’ entry point by up to 70%. “Therefore, we have more of a chance to fight it,” he says, in an interview to CTV. “Our work could have a huge influence since there aren’t many drugs that have the potential of reducing infection by 70-80%”, he added.
While they stressed that more research is indeed needed, the study gave them hope that cannabis, if proven to modulate the enzyme may ‘prove a plausible strategy for decreasing disease susceptibility’ as well as ‘become a useful and safe addition to the COVID-19 treatment and prevention as an adjunct therapy’. The study even suggested that cannabis could be used to ‘develop easy-to-use preventative treatments in the form of mouthwashes or throat gargle products’, with a ‘potential to ‘decrease viral entry’ through the mouth.
“The key point is not that any cannabis you would pick up at the store will do the trick,” said Olga Kovalchuk, another researcher on the study and Igor’s wife. She suggested that more than 800 varieties of Sativa seemed to help. All were high in anti-inflammatory CBD- but low in THC, the chemical that produces the ‘high’. The study, which has yet to be peer-reviewed, was carried out in partnership with Pathway Rx, a cannabis therapy research company and Swysh Inc., a cannabinoid-based research company.
The research stated that while their most effective extracts required further large-scale validation, their study is crucial for the future analysis of the effects of medical cannabis on COVID-19 treatment. There have been several different ways researchers have suggested that CBD might help, including its ability to reduce ACE2 expression and pro-inflammatory cytokine production to fight lung inflammation, and its potential as an antiviral. Now, new evidence is supporting the theory that cannabis-derived CBD may help those suffering from severe lung inflammation as seen in serious cases of COVID-19.
CBD COVID-19 treatment
The study from researchers at Augusta University in Georgia suggests that CBD may positively impact ARDS or acute respiratory distress syndrome – a dangerous symptom in COVID-19 caused by an overactive inflammatory response. This is sometimes referred to as a ‘cytokine storm’. The authors of the study explain that ‘currently, other than supportive measures, there is no definitive cure for ARDS, illustrating the urgent need for creative and effective therapeutic modalities to treat this complex condition.
Among all cannabinoids, cannabidiol (CBD) has demonstrated potent anti-inflammatory effects in a variety of pathological conditions. Therefore, it is logical to explore whether CBD can reduce the cytokine storm and treat ARDS. Scientists have suggested that CBD could also have potential as an antiviral, although this remains to be proven through experimentation.
“The latest research offers us insights into the many potential uses CBD may have. Beyond its wellness benefits, it has come to be known for – promoting sleep, potential aid in pain relief, and in easing the effects of anxiety. Many people are already incorporating CBD into their daily wellness routine, and it is encouraging that others may find it useful in potentially managing the effects of the current global pandemic,” said APEX spokesperson, Kayla Lawson.
Experts from the University of Nebraska and the Texas Biomedical Research Institute are recommending that scientists study the anti-inflammatory properties in CBD as a potential treatment for lung inflammation caused by the coronavirus.
Emily Earlenbaugh, a Forbes contributor and co-founder of Mindful Cannabis Consulting, joined CBSN to discuss the study. She said CBD is known from previous research as an IL-6 cytokine inhibitor, which means that it helps reduce the production of cytokines. The authors of the study wrote that one drug, Tocilizumab, resulted in the ‘clearance of lung consolidation and recovery’ in 90% of the 21 treated patients. The drug, however, resulted in adverse side effects like pancreas inflammation and hypertriglyceridemia.
Researchers then turned to cannabis, specifically CBD. The authors said that several cannabinoids in cannabis plants have anti-inflammatory properties. They said CBD has shown ‘beneficial anti-inflammatory effects in pre-clinical models of various chronic inflammatory disease’ and noted that the FDA approved one CBD product to treat certain forms of epilepsy.
“CBD has very few side effects, so it’s something that being looked at as a much more mild treatment that still has a lot of anti-inflammatory powers,” Earlenbaugh told CBSN in an interview.
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While more research is needed to conclusively link CBD to COVID-19 treatment, it is encouraging that more scientists are advocating for further studies into cannabis and CBD.
Recommended Read: How To Use CBD As Part Of Your Wellness Routine