After months of controversy, scientists are settling on the idea that the anti-inflammatory properties of major cannabinoids can be used to treat Covid-19.
One of the most promising statistics related to the coronavirus pandemic is that the number of deaths is decreasing, which is due in large part to a better understanding of how to treat the illness at its various stages.
Recent reports indicate that an infected host undergoes a cytokine explosion, a burst of immune-system proteins that cause a host of inflammatory symptoms in the lungs. In severe cases, this immune response can be so potent that it can become deadly to its host.
Major cannabinoids THC and CBD have been identified for their anti-inflammatory properties in the past, but doubt had been cast on their ability to treat the disease due to concerns of increased viral loads.
However, a new study from researchers at the University of Nebraska and the Texas Biomedical Research Institute is further solidifying cannabis as a strong treatment option, and in particular its mom-marketed derivative CBD.
The study — published in this month’s issue of Brain, Behavior, and Immunity — found CBD decreased lung inflammation in a rodent model of acute lung injury “potentially through the inhibition of pro-inflammatory cytokine production by immune cells and suppressing exuberant immune responses.”
In particular, researchers found that CBD can inhibit the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines associated with coronavirus-induced, multi-organ pathology and mortality.
— BrainBehavImm (@BrainBehavImm) June 24, 2020
It was noted in the study that THC also displays similar properties, but is a less favourable option because of its psychoactive effects.
On top of its physiological benefits, the study also expanded upon the potential for CBD to aid in the psychological recovery from Covid-19.
“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,” the study reads. “CBD has shown promise as an alternative therapy for the clinical management of anxiety disorders.”
Based on its anti-anxiety and anti-depressant properties, it’s been suggested that CBD could be used to improve the health of patients recovering from the anxiety and emotional stress of Ebola.
“Like Ebola, patients recovering from Covid-19 may experience various psychological and social stressors that may be triggered by residual chronic inflammation and autoimmune reactions,” researchers said. “Therefore, randomized clinical trials to test the efficacy of CBD on alleviating anxiety and fear associated with Covid-19 infection and its consequences on people’s physical, social and psychological well-being may be beneficial in the future.”
The study also called for more research to see if cannabinoids can be used to treat residual inflammation in the brain and reduced lung function following recovery from the disease.
Top image of cytokine release on a microscopic level by Manu5 via Wikimedia Commons