The year 2019 presented quite the challenge to the world. The spread of the virus known as SARS-CoV-19, ‘coronavirus’ or COVID saw countries locking down as a preventative measure to stop the spread of the virus, with varying degrees of effectiveness. With huge variation in how coronavirus affects different people, there has been somewhat of a scramble to find effective therapeutic treatments for it.
The promise shown by CBD in clinical trials for treating other conditions has indicated its possible utility as a therapeutic treatment for coronavirus, due to the mechanisms that CBD effects in the human body.
WHAT IS CBD?
Cannabidiol CBD is a naturally occurring, non-psychoactive compound found in the cannabis plant. CBD sold on the retail market comes from cannabis sativa extracts that have less than 0.3% THC, the chemical that gives a ‘high’. Cannabis plants with less than 0.3% THC are classified as hemp plants.
WHAT IS IN CBD OIL AND CBD EXTRACT?
The precise compounds in your CBD product depends on the type of CBD you go for. CBD Isolate contains only cannabidiol in the carrier oil. Another type of CBD available is ‘broad spectrum CBD’ and this contains other cannabinoids, flavonoids and terpenes found in the hemp plant, but still has no THC. The last available option is ‘full spectrum CBD’ which is like broad spectrum CBD but with trace amounts of THC in.
The reason why there are a few different types of CBD product was the discovery of ‘the entourage effect’, an observation made in 1998 when researchers saw other, seemingly inactive, compounds in the cannabis plant enhance certain effects. Broad spectrum and full spectrum CBD contain these other cannabinoids, allowing them to benefit from the entourage effect!
IS CBD SAFE TO CONSUME?
CBD is well tolerated in most individuals, but may cause few side effects that include dry mouth, reduced appetite, drowsiness, diarrhoea and fatigue. It is important to note that CBD can interact with other medications, and negatively impact liver or kidney disease, so it is well worth speaking to your doctor before starting use. There is evidence that indicates that CBD can cause the death of an embryo or foetus, and reduce sperm production, so it isn’t entirely risk free.
HOW DOES CBD AFFECT THE BODY?
The human body contains a system known as the ‘endocannabinoid system’ which literally means ‘the internal cannabinoid system’ - this was discovered when doing research on tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and found the receptor in the brain that THC activates - the CB1 receptor.
CBD activates this CB1 receptor, and another receptor known as the CB2 receptor, and this receptor is found primarily on immune cells. These areas that CBD acts on demonstrates that CBD has an impact on our central nervous system as well as our immune system.
HEALING PROPERTIES OF CBD OILS
The action of CBD isn’t entirely mapped out at this stage, more studies and clinical trials need to be conducted, but so far the evidence is very promising.
The roles attributed to the endocannabinoid system are that of ‘eat, sleep, relax, forget and protect’ and CBD has been shown to affect pathways involved in all of those aspects.
EAT - Treatment with CBD can result in a change of appetite, and can affect weight loss and/or gain.
SLEEP -The CB1 receptor that CBD acts on plays a role in inducing sleep, an essential part of our daily life that if you regularly miss, can result in death. Useful for insomnia.
RELAX - The presence of CBD appears to reduce the breakdown of a compound called ‘anandamide’ - an endocannabinoid known as ‘the bliss chemical’ which helps with pain relief. The endocannabinoid system is also responsible for regulating neurotransmitters - the body’s chemical messengers - reducing the amount that gets used, and clearing them away - this translates to relaxed muscles and reduced spasticity. Useful against chronic pain, and muscle spasm and/or stiffness.
FORGET - CBD doesn’t appear to have a role in forgetting, but may improve cognitive function and prevent memory deficits.
PROTECT - CBD appears to play a role in protecting the fatty substance that protects our nerves called ‘myelin’. As well, CBD could prove useful against neurodegenerative disorders.
CAN CBD HELP TO SPEED UP THE RECOVERY IN COVID-19 PATIENTS?
WHAT DOES COVID 19 DO TO THE BODY?
Covid-19 works as any typical viral infection does - it enters the body, hijacks healthy cells to then reproduce and spread throughout the body. The infamous ‘spike protein’ binds to a receptor known as the Angiotensin Converting Enzyme 2 ACE2 receptor, which is found on many cell types in the body, notably the epithelial cells on the surfaces that line body cavities - like human lungs.
This ability for Covid-19 to make entry to many of the cells in our body explains the variety of symptoms suffered, and another danger of the virus - mass inflammation. Inflammation is a tool that our body uses to help combat pathogens, but it can end up damaging our own cells. Inflammation is controlled by a cell type called ‘cytokines’, and these can be pro or anti inflammatory.
The aggressive inflammatory response that has been observed in severe covid-19 patients results from a sudden large increase in pro-inflammatory cytokines being circulated, and has earned the name ‘cytokine storm’. These cytokines cause an influx of other immune cells to the infected site, causing damage to tissue.
WHAT ARE THE COMPLICATIONS ARISING FROM BEING INFECTED BY THE COVID-19 VIRUS?
A cytokine storm can result in lung injury, for example, and if the damage is severe enough, could cause acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). It is this condition, coupled with low oxygen levels in the lungs, that is a main cause of death in Covid-19.
HOW DOES CBD OIL HELP THE IMMUNE SYSTEM?
Given Covid-19’s ability to affect our whole body due to the receptor ACE2 expression, CBD may be perfectly positioned to provide a boost to multiple systems via its action on the endocannabinoid system. As discussed, CBD helps with sleep which is important for maintaining a strong immune system, as well as helps regulate the chemical messengers that our systems use to ‘talk’ to each other - another important part of the immune system.
SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE FROM EXPERTS
CBD FOR COVID-19 RECOVERY - DOSAGE, TYPES AND WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
If you are recovering from COVID-19, we suggest using broad spectrum CBD to take advantage of the entourage effect from the accompanying cannabinoids for maximum benefit, and the success of the doctors in Austria indicates that doses of under 500mg are sufficient. For general use, CBD oil and drops we recommend dosing 3 times per day, and the strength can be increased if necessary.
CAN CBD PROTECT YOU FROM COVID-19 CONCLUSION
The coronavirus disease 2019 has impacted all of our lives, and affects some people significantly more than it affects others - we may not know the reasons why this is the case, but CBD treatments are showing real promise as a means to prevent, treat and recover from COVID-19.
CBD appears to regulate and bolster our immune response, in addition to keeping our bodily systems in efficient communication, helping our body to respond appropriately instead of the harsh response that leads to a cytokine storm.