As COVID-19 spreads around the globe and a vaccine is still out of reach, the search continues for viable treatment options. CBD has been touted as a way to protect against infection and to reduce lung inflammation in those with severe immune system reactions (immune hyperactivity).
But can CBD really treat or cure COVID-19?
We don’t know yet. There haven’t been enough studies conducted to say conclusively whether you should take CBD for coronavirus.
However, several studies have revealed CBD to be a promising treatment option. We’re going to tell you why (in plain English) below.
But first, there’s something you need to know about CBD and COVID-19.
CBD is not considered to be a treatment for COVID-19, and you should not use it to treat COVID-19 without consulting a doctor.
As far as we know, CBD will not prevent you from catching COVID-19, nor will it prevent the virus from running its course through the body.
Taking CBD is not an excuse to forego testing, social distancing, masking, or any other preventative measures suggested by your community.
If you have symptoms of COVID-19, you should get tested immediately and follow the appropriate quarantine measures. If your test is positive, you can then consult with your doctor about using CBD during your treatment.
Now, let’s take a look at how CBD might treat or prevent coronavirus infection.
One of the most exciting studies on CBD and COVID-19 found that CBD may positively impact acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).
This is a big deal, as ARDS is the number one cause of death in COVID-19 patients.
Also known as the “cytokine storm,” ARDS is not directly caused by the virus but is instead a result of the immune system working too hard to suppress the virus.
Before we discuss how CBD might be able to mitigate this immune response, let’s look at why it happens in the first place.
ARDS is caused by inflammation, which is a natural response by our immune system to respond to a threat (such as a virus).
When the body detects a hostile intruder, it releases inflammatory soldiers to fight the virus. These soldiers are called cytokines. The only problem is, inflammation can also damage the body and prevent healing.
In a healthy immune system, the inflammation fights the virus and then retreats so the body can heal. In an immunocompromised body, the immune response can go haywire. Instead of retreating, the inflammation spreads and builds.
When this build-up occurs in the lungs, as it can in COVID-19 patients, it results in ARDS. If the inflammation spreads too broadly in the lungs, the body can no longer receive oxygen, leading to suffocation and death.
So, how can CBD help?
Many studies have demonstrated CBD to be a powerful anti-inflammatory. And now, one study has suggested that CBD can reduce the inflammatory response that causes ARDS.
Researchers found that administering CBD to the lungs “totally or partially reversed” the symptoms of ARDS and returned the lungs to their normal functionality.
In essence, CBD was able to mitigate the body’s immune response and reverse the cytokine storm.
This has huge implications for critically-ill COVID-19 patients, but human trials have not been conducted, so more research is needed.
CBD has shown promise as a preventative for COVID-19 infection. Studies have indicated that certain strains of cannabis high in CBD may be able to stop COVID-19 from infecting cells in the lungs, intestinal tract, and more, thereby preventing infection or downgrading the seriousness of infection.
How does it work?
First, let’s take a look at how COVID-19 is able to infect our cells.
In order for a virus to enter a cell and begin to replicate, it needs to pass through a gateway. Our cell walls are too tough for viruses to enter on their own. That’s why most viruses don’t make us sick.
COVID-19 enters cells via the ACE2 receptor. ACE2 is a gateway attached to cell walls, and the “crown” shape of the coronavirus acts like a key to unlock this gateway.
Even if COVID-19 enters your body, you are not infected until the virus enters your cells via the ACE2 receptor. So, if this can be prevented, infection can be prevented too.
That’s where CBD comes in.
Studies have found that CBD modulates ACE2 levels of susceptible cells and blocks COVID-19 from getting inside. In addition, it has also been found to down-regulate TMPRSS2, another protein necessary for COVID-19 to infect cells.
Does this mean that CBD can prevent you from catching COVID-19? We can’t be sure yet, but even if you’re a believer, you shouldn’t expect your CBD oil to prevent infection.
The study states that only certain cannabis strains with high CBD potency have shown results. And even then, blocking just some of your ACE2 gateways won’t be enough to prevent infection.
However, other studies have indicated that the seriousness of the symptoms of COVID-19 may depend on the amount of the virus you are exposed to. Scientists have predicted that a small exposure is more likely to result in an asymptomatic case, whereas a large exposure may cause an infected person to get sicker.
So, if CBD can help you to limit your exposure by blocking your ACE2 receptors, it could prevent you from getting ill even if you are infected.
We’ve summarised our thoughts on taking CBD for COVID-19 below:
Can CBD cure COVID-19? We can’t give you an answer yet. But with more time and research, CBD might emerge as an effective treatment option or a way for the immunocompromised to limit their initial exposure to the virus.
For now, the best course of action is to continue to follow social distancing measures, wear a mask, and wash your hands frequently.
If you’d like to take CBD as an additional precaution, you can do that, too. Learn more about how CBD can protect the immune system here and then choose a trusted CBD brand from our list of vetted companies.