[author: Alexis Barnes]
While COVID-19 has continued to challenge medical experts worldwide, an unlikely treatment shows promise – cannabis.
Since the start of the ongoing outbreak, the cannabis industry has been the source of some debate as stakeholders and active consumers attempt to understand COVID-19’s far-reaching effects. Pulmonologists and lung experts have cautioned that inhaled smoke from combusted plant material – be it tobacco or cannabis – can contribute to lung irritation and potentially lead to more severe COVID-19 symptoms.1
After recent studies on cannabis compound cannabidiol (“CBD”), however, scientists have found that the plant may be an effective alternative to current strategies in preventing or treating some of COVID-19’s severe symptoms when medically administered.
Researchers from the University of Nebraska Medical Center and the Texas Biomedical Research Institute recently reported on CBD’s merit as an anti-inflammatory treatment, referencing numerous previous studies in which the substance proved beneficial. While existing anti-inflammatory treatments for COVID-19 are promising, the authors detail adverse effects like pancreatitis and hypertriglyceridemia as a motivator in finding medical alternatives.
Examining tetrahydrocannabinol (“THC”), researchers reaffirm that CBD does not produce the same psychoactive side effects, although both exhibit potential in blocking inflammation. More significantly, however, researchers found that, as opposed to THC, CBD has a high margin of safety and is well tolerated after daily treatments of up to 1500 mg for two weeks in animals and humans, which, the study notes, indicates “its feasibility to reduce SARS-CoV2 induced lung inflammation/pathology and disease severity.”
Beyond CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties, the recent research also details the compound’s ability to assist in the clinical management of resulting anxiety disorders. Citing a study on Ebola disease patients in which CBD was suggested as treatment, researchers found that patients recovering from COVID-19 may similarly undergo various mental and social stressors – the result of residual chronic inflammation and autoimmune responses.
“Therefore,” the study continues, “randomized clinical trials to test the efficacy of CBD on alleviating anxiety and fear associated with infection and its consequences on people’s physical, social and psychological well-being may be beneficial in the future.”
According to multiple studies, CBD’s ability to treat inflammation has been crucial to assessing the cannabinoid’s effects on COVID-19 symptoms.
Advocates for the use of CBD have been vocal in touting CBD’s potential to combat COVID-19 since early this spring after scientists at the Universities of conducted an analysis of over 800 Cannabis sativa lines and their respective effects on the illness. The Canadian scientists published their findings in April, identifying several strains of cannabis with high levels of CBD that may help block proteins that otherwise provide entry points for COVID-19.
Although the recent studies show promise that the use of CBD may help alleviate symptoms associated with COVID, it is important to note that the substance awaits significant regulatory clarity from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”). According to a recent FDA statement on a sampling study of the CBD market earlier this month, officials remain uncertain about CBD’s safety as FDA analysis has yet to provide the necessary insight for the creation of clear guidelines for the CBD industry.
- Kary, Tiffany. “FDA Shifts Its Covid-19 Stance on Vaping, Smoking Impact.” Bloomberg. Bloomberg L.P., April 16, 2020. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-04-16/fda-shifts-its-covid-19-stance-on-vaping-smoking-impact.