The COVID-19 pandemic is never far from the news these days, and with so many people searching for potential cures, vaccines, and treatments, it is not surprising that a new article appears each week suggesting that everything from mushrooms to nicotine could be the key to fighting off the virus.
However, while some of these are little more than panicked jumping to conclusions, some of them appear to have some real science behind them. CBD, which has long been highlighted as an immunoregulatory and anti-inflammatory, is now being explored for its potential therapeutic prospects in the face of Coronavirus.
The Role of Inflammation
Inflammation is the body’s response to damage caused by injury or illness, and it is an important part of the healing process. However, in some circumstances, inflammation can cause more harm than good.
A number of studies have found that when patients are severely ill with COVID-19, the body can undergo something called a cytokine storm. Cytokines are proteins that cause an inflammatory response, which is usually regulated by the immune system. However, sometimes—usually in response to a serious illness—this response goes haywire, and excessive levels of cytokines are released into the bloodstream. This is a very serious condition, which can lead to dangerous inflammation and even organ failure and death.
For this reason, science and medicine are looking as anti-inflammatories as a possible way to manage severe cases of COVID-19. The downside of using anti-inflammatory drugs, however, is that they can often have serious side-effects on the body, especially the liver and pancreas, which may already be weakened due to the effects of the virus. For this reason, researchers are keen to find an alternative to traditional anti-inflammatory medications: one with fewer adverse effects and which is suited to long-term use.
Last month, a joint study from the University of Nebraska Medical Center and the Texas Biomedical Research Institute found a potential solution: CBD, thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties and minimal side-effects. Indeed, a number of studies have shown that CBD has the potential to inhibit cytokine production and promote the release of immunoregulators, which can mediate a dangerous immune response.
Also, in April 2020, Canadian scientists published findings from recent studies that indicate CBD may help block proteins that otherwise provide entry points for COVID-19.
The same UNMC/Texas Biomed study also highlighted the potential for CBD to help alleviate feelings of stress and anxiety related to the often drawn-out recovery process from COVID, based on studies on the use of CBD to aid in the recovery process of ebola patients. This may well be an important consideration since for some people, the Coronavirus recovery process can go on for months and involve intense fatigue and brain fog.
What’s more, the UNMC/Texas Biomed study’s authors highlighted the need for more research into CBD’s neuroprotective properties in treating COVID, which can lead to headaches, disrupted blood flow to the brain, and loss of consciousness. Studies have highlighted the potential for CBD’s use in the prevention of and recovery from brain injury, as well as conditions like anxiety and depression. However, it has not yet been explored in relation to treating the cerebral effects of COVID-19.
While more research into the clinical applications of CBD for COVID-19 is certainly necessary, it is promising to see a shift toward science evaluating more holistic approaches of managing illness and recovery: one which takes into account the whole body’s response, rather than treating isolated symptoms only.