by Kit O'Connell
Recent research supports the idea that CBD could someday be used by doctors to reduce lung damage caused by the novel coronavirus, better known as COVID-19.
The new study helped give further insight into how CBD’s anti-inflammatory benefits may reduce “cytokine storms,” a sometimes deadly immune system overreaction that can occur during illnesses like COVID-19. Previous research suggested CBD might help, while the latest study added understanding regarding how it could help.
The study, performed using rodents as a research model, suggested cannabinoid-based treatments might someday be used to improve blood flow and reduce lung damage caused by these cytokine storms, more scientifically known as deadly adult respiratory distress syndrome. The study suggests CBD might help balance a key natural compound in our bodies, as well as reduce inflammation.
Disclaimer: You can’t treat COVID-19 at home with CBD
We love sharing the latest research into CBD and hemp because we’re fascinated by the many ways this plant can be used to help humankind. However, before we go any further, we wanted to caution readers that you cannot use over-the-counter CBD supplements to prevent or treat the novel coronavirus.
Unfortunately, some groups use research studies like this to try to prove that CBD can protect you from getting COVID-19 and that’s simply not true, based on any scientific evidence. We believe CBD can help us in many ways during these trying times, including helping promote feelings of calm and relaxation, or promoting better sleep, but CBD oil supplements cannot be used to treat COVID-19.
The current research into CBD and cytokine storms involves animal models, meaning we’re a long way from using CBD to treat humans. In addition, the research focuses on just part of the treatment for one of the most severe symptoms of COVID-19, typically found in hospitalized patients. There’s no research suggesting CBD can treat the disease itself.
Just as before, wearing masks, washing your hands, and practicing social distancing are the best ways to stay healthy. Get the vaccine when it is available to you and, if you think you have symptoms of COVID-19, get tested and see a doctor right away -- don’t attempt home treatments of any kind without medical advice.
The link between CBD and lung health after COVID-19
The study, published in October 2020 in the Journal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, focused on a peptide called apelin. This natural compound is found throughout our blood, fatty tissue, heart, brain, and lungs. Apelin regulates inflammation and blood pressure.
Researchers at the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University, located in Athens, Georgia, found that levels could fall dangerously low in the lungs of COVID-19 patients, according to their rodent-based model.
Surprisingly, they found that CBD seemed to help bring apelin levels back into balance.
"CBD almost brought it back to a normal level," sad Dr. Jack Yu, physician scientist and chief of pediatric plastic surgery at MCG, in a press release issued by the school.
The researchers were extremely cautious about drawing conclusions from the study, noting they haven’t proven that COVID-19 causes apelin levels to crash in humans, nor that CBD is a viable treatment for this problem.
"It is an association; we don't know yet about causative, but it is a very good indicator of the disease," said Babak Baban, an immunologist at the Medical College of Georgia, and a participant in earlier research into CBD as a possible treatment for cytokine storms.
How does CBD work?
As you may guess from the research above, we’re still only beginning to learn about all the ways that CBD and hemp could help.
One major way that cannabinoids (the compounds found in the hemp and cannabis plants) work is by affecting the human endocannabinoid system, a series of receptors found throughout our bodies and nervous systems.
Researchers believe compounds found in hemp like CBD interact with our endocannabinoid system, helping to prompt homeostasis, or the natural state of balance in our internal systems.
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