Researchers have started to look for solutions to fight deadly lung inflammation in an unlikely place - the cannabis plant.
Cannabis’ active compounds have a number of properties that make it attractive as a potential additional treatment for coronavirus infections, and recently scientists have begun to look at its potential for reducing susceptibility to the disease, and even considered whether it could be used as an antiviral medication.
Researchers from the University of Nebraska and the Texas Biomedical Research Institute are recommending more research into how cannabis-derived CBD might help treat dangerous lung inflammation from the novel coronavirus.
The authors detailed the evidence for how cannabis’ anti-inflammatory powers may help in a peer reviewed article in an issue of "Brain, Behavior, and Immunity."
In the article—without boring you too much with medical mumbo jumbo—researchers explain that deadly lung inflammation comes from a "cytokine superstorm," which also causes fever, cough, and muscle pain.
In short, scientists are now studying the mortality reduction of COVID-19 by reducing inflammation with cannabis products.
Scientists widely agree that several cannabinoids in the cannabis plant have anti-inflammatory properties. In particular, they point to CBD as the most likely candidate for treating COVID-19 related inflammation.
CBD has shown serious anti-inflammatory properties in past studies. It doesn't create the psychotropic effects associated with THC, and it has already been approved by the FDA as safe for children with epilepsy.
If successful at reducing inflammation for COVID-19 patients, CBD could be a safer alternative to other anti-inflammatory drugs.
Why do researchers believe CBD can help with COVID-19?
In addition to reducing these pro-inflammatory cytokines, CBD has also been shown to increase the production of interferons, a type of signaling protein that activates immune cells and prevents viruses from replicating.
Research on CBD shows it to be safe and well-tolerated with dosing as high as 1,500mg a day, for a period of up to two weeks.
The authors explain that this “suggests its feasibility to reduce SARS-CoV2 induced lung inflammation/pathology and disease severity.”
While negative side effects are minimal with CBD, the article’s authors point out that CBD may even have a positive side effect for patients with the disease - reduced anxiety.
“The many uncertainties associated with the COVID-19 pandemic such as status of the economy, employment and loss of connection can fuel depression, fear and anxiety,” they explain.
The increased inflammation in COVID-19 may also trigger increased levels of anxiety. But CBD has shown serious promise for the management of anxiety, and may help reduce these challenging levels of stress.
While this doesn’t suggest cannabis should be considered a cure or treatment of COVID-19 on its own, it does suggest that it may have potential to help bring down inflammation and reduce anxiety in those suffering from the disease.
But until more studies are done, this is just a well-supported theory. Direct experimentation is needed to bring us real answers.