Introduction: A new light in the treatment of COVID 19
With the outbreak of novel Corona virus some months past, there has been a constant increase in the number of people succumbing to this deadly virus.
Doctors and medical experts all over the world have been working since to find treatments that might cure or prevent this potentially deadly disease.
In the midst of this, a new theory has been circulating that cannabis or cannabis derived CBD can be used as a potential treatment for the Corona virus.
While some researches are bent on exploring many different possibilities in fighting off the COVID-19, some experts are looking into whether the cannabis or cannabis derived CBD could be the long awaited treatment for the corona virus.
Medical facts about CBD & Ongoing Researches
It is due to the fact that CBD concentrates may help in reducing the cytokine storm and the excessive lung inflammation that is the main cause resulting in the deaths of many COVID-19 patients. But these studies have not been tested by many researchers in order to make it a legal cure for the above mentioned virus.
More work is required in this field, which includes the clinical trials on human subjects so that the proper dosage and timing of the CBD drug can be determined, before the CBD drug becomes a legal part of the treatment for the COVID-19.
Still, the researchers at the Dental College of Georgia and the Medical College of Georgia claim to have some early evidence that the CBD drug can help the COVID-19 patients which show the signs of respiratory distress in avoiding the extreme interventions like mechanical ventilation, as well as death from ARDS, also known as the Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome- a dangerous symptom in the patients of the COVID-19 that is caused due to overactive inflammatory response.
This can sometimes be known as the ‘cytokine storm’.
Dr. Babak Baban, immunologist and intern associate dean for research at Dental College of Georgia and also the corresponding author of the study in the journal “Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research” have stated that, “ARDS is a major killer in severe cases of some respiratory viral infections, including severe acute respiratory syndrome corona virus 2(SARS-CoV-2) and we have an urgent need for better intervention and treatment strategies.” According to the medical experts, in the current times, there is no definite cure for the ARDS except for some supportive measures.
But, recent studies suggest that the CBD drug might help in treating this deadly symptom of COVID-19. This can be done by reducing the pro-inflammatory production of cytokine, which will eventually result in fighting off the cytokine storm.
Does CBD really do anything? Let’s have a look.
The cytokines are small proteins that are released in our body by different cells, including those of the immune system, where they help coordinate the body’s response against infection and trigger inflammation.
But, sometimes the body may produce a large amount of cytokines, which results in the body’s response to the external infection to go into overdrive.
This is termed as the ‘cytokine storm’. It is a severe immune reaction, that results in the body releasing too many cytokines into the blood too quickly.
This, in turn results in the blood vessels getting overcrowded due to increased number of cytokines and less amount of oxygen.
This causes respiratory problems in the patients. But CBD may help in preventing or reducing the cytokine storm by reducing the levels of some specific cytokines like interleukin (IL)-6, IL-1b, and IL-17. By doing this, the CBD drug may be able to decrease the inflammation and thus put a stop to the respiratory distress damage.
The results of these experiments by some researchers have been in support of this theory.
Dr. Jack Yu, physician-scientist and chief of pediatric plastic surgery at the Medical College of Georgia stated that, “Our laboratory studies indicate that the pure CBD can help lungs recover from the overwhelming inflammation caused by the COVID-19 virus, and restore healthier oxygen levels in the body.”
The CBD findings of the researchers at the DCG and MCG were enabled by their additional finding of a safe and relatively inexpensive model that duplicates the severe lung damage caused by ARDS.
Work on the virus is limited to a small number of labs all over the country that can safely manage the highly contagious corona virus, and their newly reported approach opens more doors for studying SARS-CoV-2, COVID-19, and other similar virus-induced conditions.
Let’s explore CBD through a small experiment
This above mentioned research was performed on a group of mice, who were initially introduced to a treatment called Polly(I:C) to artificially induce ARDS, with symptoms similar to those seen in the patients with severe conditions of COVID-19.
This created a cytokine storm, reduced the blood oxygen saturation by 10%, and even produced some structural damage to the lungs in the mice subjects.
After the mice subjects experienced the cytokine storm, they were subjected to a dose of CBD drug. And the results showed just how powerful CBD can be while treating ARDS. “These symptoms were totally or partially reversed and returned to the level and condition of the normal, after treatment with CBD.”
the authors reported. The mice subjects saw a reduced expression in the amount of IL-6, which is said to be an important marker that results in the cytokine storm.
Also the amount of some other pro-inflammtory cytokines was found to be lowered by a specific number. While the Poly:(I:C) spiked the inflammatory markers, “CBD treatment reversed all of these inflammatory indices and also partially re-established homeostasis”, as explained by the authors. Homeostasis is the ability or property of cells, tissues, and organisms to maintain and regulate the stability and constancy, which is required by them to function properly.
The mice treated with the CBD drug also saw an increase in lymphocyte levels in their blood, which are important white blood cells required for warding off the infections. Based on the present findings, the researchers state that the cannabis and cannabis derived CBD can be useful in playing an immunotherapeutic role in the treatment of severe respiratory viral infections such as COVID-19.
According to the researchers, “The current data supports the notion that the anti-inflammatory function of CBD may help in reducing the cytokine storm, and diminish the effects of exaggerated inflammation.”
The researchers also add that, “considering all potential regulatory effects of CBD as well as the vast distribution of endocannabinoid system in the body, it is plausible that CBD may be used as a therapeutic candidate in the treatment of various inflammatory conditions, including COVID-19 and other virus-induced ARDS.”
Is CBD with us for the long haul? Does it have a future as a possible medicine?
Although this is an early study, and more research needs to be done- specifically the research that tests the above mentioned theory on human subjects with COVID-219 related ARDS.
The authors point out that, “obviously, more studies are required to expand and validate this therapeutic strategy.”
Even though we will have to wait more for further research before the cannabis and cannabis derived CBD can be legalized as a treatment for COVID-19, this study gives good insight to the various positive effects of the CBD drug, and also provides us with hope that CBD drug might eventually be used in treating the corona virus patients.