Potential of CBD in Covid-19 Pandemic

Can CBD help in prevention or treatment of the coronavirus? Despite the resilient efforts of researchers to produce an effective vaccine, the COVID-19 pandemic still seems to have a strong hold on its victims. Instead, the virus is spreading rampantly through mutated, highly transmissible variants. This highlights the need for alternative approaches, especially among populations with a shortage of vaccines.

Preemptive methods aside from social distancing and the use of masks, vitamin supplements, and good dietary intake, medical cannabis may play a role in reducing the severity of symptoms brought about by COVID-19 due to its anti-inflammatory properties and the ability to reduce anxiety and pain. In addition, the groundbreaking study suggests that Cannabis plant compounds can inhibit COVID-19 infection in human lung cells.

How does the Coronavirus Work?

The COVID-19 uses its spiky surface proteins to grab on to ACE2 receptors found on healthy lung cells. Once the coronavirus makes its way inside, it takes command and kills some healthy cells. After that, the virus moves down the respiratory tract, including your nose, mouth, throat, and lungs.

Moreover, because the lower airways have more ACE2 receptors than the rest of the respiratory tract, the coronavirus is likely to penetrate more than other viruses such as the common cold virus. This makes the COVID-19 more dangerous than average colds or influenza strains. On entering the lungs, the virus makes breathing difficult for people, especially if it leads to pneumonia.

For people with good immunity, the symptoms end with a cough and a fever. For those not so lucky, the infection can become severe. Within a week after symptoms begin, some people may experience shortness of breath, leading to ARDS (acute respiratory distress syndrome) a few days later.   

How does CBD work?

Medical Cannabis in the prevention of COVID-19:

CBD rich extracts can down-regulate the ACE2 expression in target COVID-19 tissues and down-regulate the critical protein required for SARS Co-V 2 entry into host cells, an essential target for a prevention strategy. The replication of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, the causative agent of COVID-19, is inhibited through a combination of CBD and its metabolite, 7-OH-CBD.

The expression of specific genes within the viral cells is inhibited, and changes in gene expression within the lung cells are reversed that resulted from the presence of the COVID-19. Therefore, CBD and its metabolite offer both protective and therapeutic roles. CBD also has the ability to block viral RNA (ribonucleic acid), including the coding for the spike protein, the tool the virus uses to enter our cells.

This information was put forth by a group of researchers for the University of Chicago. The delay in the spread of the virus and effective treatment has been because very few therapies can block replication and reproduction of the SARS CoV-2 virus.

Reducing Severity and Impact:

CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties are one of the most critical findings which have been known to counter the hyperinflammatory response stimulated by the “cytokine storm,” a key attacking action of the virus. This is one of the main causes of death resulting from a COVID-19 infection. Too many cytokine proteins released in the body can attack the lungs and overwhelm the immune system with hyper inflammation. CBD has been identified as reducing damage in the lungs due to cytokine storms by regulating apelin levels; a peptide is known to reduce inflammation, decrease physical lung damage, and improve oxygen levels.

The research focused on the ability of cannabinoids and terpenes to lower the immune system’s response without suppressing it is up to two times more effective than the corticosteroid dexamethasone to reduce inflammation from COVID-19. Thus CBD has the potential to not only act as an antiviral agent in the early stages of the infection but to protect the host against an overactive immune system, later on, the study concluded.

A New Approach: 

The cell therapy treatment is a new effective approach that involves the administration of CBD-loaded exosomes in COVID-19 patients. This technology aims to target both the coronavirus and the CNS indications. In addition, these exosomes provide the potential to provide a highly synergistic effect of anti-inflammatory properties of specific damaged organs such as infected lung cells.

More research required:

Research into the medicinal potential of cannabis is hampered by the difficulty of sourcing cannabis and the complexity surrounding its application and safety. In addition, because CBD is still considered a schedule 9 drug despite having no psychoactive properties, research activities require institutions to apply for a special license to allow it to obtain and store the cannabinoid.

The administration of Cannabidiol, along with other drugs currently used in the anti-COVID-19 protocol, remains to be studied for its relative toxicity profile. The effect of CBD in vivo largely depends on its dose and the bioavailability of its receptor targets in various pathological conditions. Whether taken sublingually, as a mouthwash or spray, vaped, or as an CBD oil or tincture, specific concentrations of CBD may be required in order to activate the distinct pathways responsible for its multifaceted activity.  

Black Fungus Threat:

A dangerous fungal infection that is a new threat to people who have recovered from COVID-19 is Mucormycosis. The risk is higher for people with diabetes, those on immune-suppressant drugs, people with cancer, and those with weakened immune systems. Though this fungal infection is more prevalent in India and only a handful of cases have been reported in the US, fungal infections are common in post-COVID-19 patients. The fungal disease, Aspergillosis, is more common in the US in people treated with steroids and who have been on ventilators and is associated with the same risk factors, that is to say, high sugar levels.

With CBD products gaining recognition and the myth around their safety and use being debunked, it can become a helpful addition to the prevention and treatment of COVID-19 as an adjunct therapy. The current dire and fast-developing epidemiological condition calls for every possible therapeutic opportunity to be considered and researched. Though still not approved by the FDA, the efficacy of high-quality CBD products has been legalized in many states across the US.

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