The last few years have been dominated by Covid-19, a virus that causes severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and can have lasting effects. These symptoms being suffered after the initial infection are being classified as a condition called ‘long covid’ and includes a wide variety of lasting symptoms.
As a ‘novel’ (new) virus, it has taken some time to get to grips with Covid-19, and only now are we seeing the size of the problem that long covid presents. Finding ways to tackle this problem are now a top priority and is why CBD oil and long covid are being investigated.
What is Long Covid?
Coronaviruses are respiratory viruses that primarily affect the airways and lungs. The nature of any infection means that the body tries to tackle the harmful cells by causing inflammation, which is when our immune system sends a variety of cells to the site of infection to destroy the harmful stuff.
In Covid-19, the virus gains entry to cells in our airways or lungs via a receptor known as the ACE2 receptor. While around 80% of individuals do not experience symptoms, about 14% develop severe symptoms such as pneumonia, approximately 5% suffer critical symptoms such as respiratory failure, and around 2% die from the disease.
Long covid is when symptoms last beyond 4 to 12 weeks and are not explained by another diagnosis. The list of long covid symptoms is varied, including fatigue, headache, body aches, shortness of breath (dyspnea) and loss of smell (anosmia). These are the most common long covid symptoms, with chest or abdominal pain, vomiting and confusion being other possible severe long covid symptoms.
One study indicates that long covid is more likely to occur in the aged and those with a pre-existing medical condition, and those who experience more than five symptoms in the first week of illness. While symptoms experienced for over 6 weeks classify the illness as long covid, certain symptoms – like fatigue, dyspnea and anxiety - may persist longer than a year after the initial infection.
What is CBD Oil
CBD or cannabidiol is one of the main cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. Unlike the other main cannabinoid ‘THC’, CBD doesn’t have a psychoactive effect. CBD is extracted from hemp plants which are cannabis plants with less than 0.3% THC levels. Then, depending on the type of CBD product, it is mixed in with a carrier oil and prepared for use.
There is a significant distinction between the types of CBD products due to what gets put in them. CBD Isolate products use just the CBD extracted from the hemp plant, where full-spectrum CBD products include everything in the plant, including the low levels of THC. The reason for including all of the extras in the plant is due to something called the ‘entourage effect’ which describes how the chemicals in the hemp plant actually work together to increase their effectiveness.
It is for this reason that we use broad-spectrum CBD products at SMOKO – these are CBD products that include CBD and terpenes and flavonoids in the plant to benefit from the entourage effect, but with the THC removed!
Usage of CBD to treat long covid
So why are scientists looking at CBD and long covid? Initial studies found that through a few a different mechanisms CBD was able to reduce the impact of covid on the body. From reducing the numbers of the ACE2 receptors (which is the receptor that covid’s spike protein uses to gain entry to cells), to increasing levels of apelin (a protein that helps regulate the cardiovascular system), CBD has shown some potential benefits for combating covid-19.
The most notable ability that CBD has in relation to covid is to regulate inflammation – this often means reducing the number of proinflammatory cytokines, such as interleukin factors 4 and 5, sent to a site of infection. In covid, the extreme immune response creates what is called a ‘cytokine storm’ which can cause damage to surrounding healthy tissue and can lead to ARDS (acute respiratory distress syndrome). This is the main cause of death in covid patients.
The current medications used to treat hospitalised covid patients are dexamethasone, a steroid the effectiveness of which has yet to be determined, and remdesivir which is only being used on severely infected hospitalised patients and has a long list of side effects. Paxlovid and molnupiravir are other medications being used but are only available for the highest risk group.
Using CBD oil for long covid is still being researched, but the results are promising so far. The symptoms associated with long covid such as muscle pain and joint pain may be lessened by CBD as it prevents the breakdown of anandamide, an endocannabinoid that reduces the perception of pain.
The pain reduction capability could help to improve the ability to relax and rest, leading to better sleep quality. This, in turn, helps to improve the ability to concentrate as well as improve mood, reduce stress and fatigue.
CBD Oil may also help to improve cognition as it has been observed to change brain activity in resting state and in the performance of cognitive tasks in both healthy brains and patients with a psychiatric disorder. One study even observed a restorative effect of CBD on brain cells suggesting CBD offers a neuroprotective effect.
One Austrian hospital used CBD to treat patients with covid-19 in January 2021 for three weeks, at dosages of up to 300mg and saw those treated with CBD leave the hospital faster than the comparison group. This led to a study in Israel on the effect of CBD on covid, and even now a new medical cannabis product ‘MediCabilis’ is beginning trials for the treatment of long-covid.
Best type of CBD product to use
Due to the wide range of symptoms that are included under the umbrella of ‘long covid’, a number of CBD products are likely to be beneficial in helping to alleviate symptoms and get you up and running again, sooner rather than later!
Oral CBD – Taking your CBD oil orally gets it into the body to be delivered internally to where it needs to be. Think of your blood vessels as the delivery route for your CBD! This means oral CBD is great for internal issues, like regulating inflammation of organ tissue, improving cognition, gut health, and fatigue. Oral CBD products include edibles like CBD gummies, as well as CBD oral drops, tinctures and capsules.
Topical CBD – Using a CBD cream or balm is great for surface issues and getting CBD directly to site. This could be joint pain, muscular pain, skin issues, and even headaches! Topical CBD is likely to help treat some of the symptoms of long covid, however CBD doesn’t make it into the blood from preparations applied to the skin, so won’t generate all the benefits associated with getting CBD into the blood.
Vape CBD – Vaping CBD is an option for taking your CBD simply because it is the fastest way to get CBD into the blood. The problem with vaping CBD is that someone currently suffering from covid may find vaping to be problematic if their lungs aren’t functioning well. The other tricky thing with vaping CBD is getting enough CBD into the blood may require vaping quite regularly, which may present a problem if someone is already having lung or breathing issues.
Dosage – How Much CBD for Covid
Getting the correct CBD dosage for long covid is an individual thing, dependent on what product you are taking, the strength of that product, and your body weight. The Austrian hospital CBD dosage for covid patients was up to 300mg with positive results. Taking into consideration the World Health Organization’s stance that CBD has no risk of abuse potential and is well tolerated in most individuals, we can be relatively sure that dosages up to 300mg are safe.
Other things to keep in mind are the first-pass effect – the reduction in the amount of CBD absorbed from oral CBD products due to the digestion process – and that not all the CBD will be absorbed from any given puff on your CBD vape.
With these things in mind, start off by getting a low but consistent level of CBD into the blood. Dosing three drops three times a day of low strength (500mg) CBD oral drops would result in three doses of 7.5mg, totalling 22.5mg per day. This is a great place to start and gives the option of switching to a higher strength if needed. At the stronger end of the spectrum, taking the same dose with SMOKO’s 2000mg oral drops would result in a total dose of 90mg per day.
What to look out for when purchasing CBD oil
Buying your CBD Oil should be straightforward but can be fraught with pitfalls. The type of CBD product – isolate, broad-spectrum and full-spectrum – impacts what goes into your body, so it is important to know the difference. Professional athletes may want to avoid full-spectrum products to avoid any level of THC entering the blood, for example.
Choosing a CBD product you can trust is also important as one study found that many online-bought CBD products contained different amounts of the ingredients to that indicated on the label. This makes dosing inaccurate and might mean you are putting into your body something that you don’t wish to – like THC.
At SMOKO, our CBD product testing certificates are available to view on our website so you know what you’re getting when you purchase a SMOKO CBD product!
Check out the SMOKO blog 'Storing CBD: How to keep CBD products' for our top tips on how to store your CBD for maximum shelf life!
Using CBD oil to treat long Covid - Conclusion
Studies on CBD are still underway as we try to understand the ways it behaves in the human body, but the results so far are very promising. The way we understand CBD to behave shows us it could be useful to maintain a good quality of life and improve our ability to deal with ailments, if not actually help to improve them!
If you find that you are suffering for an extended period after contracting Covid-19, or want to bolster your health against the newly emerged variants, consider adding CBD oil to your daily routine – and if you are looking for a CBD product you can trust, then look no further!
SMOKO CBD products are made in the UK using broad-spectrum CBD harvested from hemp plants responsibly grown in Oregon, USA. They are vegan friendly, gluten and THC free! Try SMOKO CBD oral drops and CBD gummies today!
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