CBD Giving Hope in the Covid-19 Pandemic
CBD and COVID -19
You would have to have been living under a rock for over a year now to have not heard of COVID-19. More commonly known simply as Coronavirus, the virus is a worrying and troublesome addition to our everyday lives. However, new research has shown some positive news regarding its treatment, particularly where CBD comes in.
What is CBD?
CBD stands for cannabidiol and is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid compound found in cannabis plants. It is one of 113 identified cannabinoid compounds in the plants and makes up around 40% of all the extracted compounds.
Earlier this year medical and dental college scientists from the Medical College of Georgia and the Dental College Georgia (DGD) showed that CBD can improve the levels of oxygen in people as well as reducing inflammation and lung damage in certain conditions such as ARDS (Adult Respiratory Distress Syndrome). The pharmacological mechanisms behind the findings normalize natural peptide levels, specifically apelin. Apelin is known for its anti-inflammatory responses. When someone has COVID-19, their level of apelin is low.
Apelin and its response in ARDS
Apelin is important thanks to its regulatory properties. It helps to bring both inflammation and blood pressure down. When blood pressure increases so too should apelin levels to help bring the pressure back down. Additionally, it normalizes inflammation and breathing difficulties that are associated with ARDS. However, with ARDS, apelin does not increase where it is needed in the lungs to improve and protect oxygen levels and blood flow. Instead, it decreases in these areas when someone is suffering from ARDS.
In the research, those with ARDS had apelin levels close to zero. With the help of CBD, these levels increased 20 times. This is undoubtedly an impressive finding. Of course, the authors of the research do wish to emphasize that they do not know whether CBD or even the novel coronavirus itself influence apelin directly, or if these are consequences of other actions further down the line. Researchers are currently working to try and find this out. It is an association and they do not know if the low apelin levels are causative. However, it is a specific indicator of COVID-19. The reduction in apelin could result in being an early biological marker for ARDS or COVID-19 and whether patients are responding to treatment.
COVID-19 permeates human cells through ACE2 receptors. This stands for pervasive angiotensin-converting enzyme 2. There is a lot of shared ground with apelin and ACE2; many tissues and cell types, such as in the lungs, have both. ACE2 and apelin work in conjunction with each other in normal circumstances so that they can control blood pressure.
COVID-19 seems to disturb their positive partnership as the virus binds to ACE2 receptors. This results in decreasing ACE2 levels as well as an increase in angiotensin II, a powerful substance that constricts blood vessels. This worsens the prognosis of a patient as fewer and fewer vasodilators are produced which counteract it. ACE2 can no longer help the blood vessels to relax, it aids the virus in its multiplication by allowing its passage to the host. Once it is there, the ACE2 cannot help the lungs to relax.
What CBD Might Do
CBD can act as a natural agonist for apelin. More research is needed to understand better how CBD, COVID-19, and apelin interact with each other. This will include investigating why apelin diminishes when faced with the virus and CBD subsequently can cause it to increase.
The researchers hypothesize that the virus most likely suppresses another substance which then suppresses apelin. CBD then interferes with this process so apelin levels can return higher.
How the Study Worked
The scientists' study was relatively inexpensive and very safe. They modeled ARDS to produce a response that is similar to COVID 19's response, including the "cytokine storm" and lung damage that occurs due to an excessive immune response in the lungs.
The studies were carried out on mice whereby a control group had saline intranasally for three days whilst the coronavirus model group received the ARDS model version for three days. Another group, the one receiving treatment, got the ARDS version as well as CBD. The scientists discovered a significant reduction in apelin levels in mice that had COVID-like symptoms in comparison with the control group. The CBD group had a normalized immune response and normalized apelin and oxygen levels.
Work still to be done
Of course, there is still a lot of work to be done in investigating successful treatments for COVID-19. But here shows that there is great promise with CBD in treating the disease, especially given that it is so readily available, safe, and inexpensive to produce. For now, we have to hope that with vaccinations and more successful treatments, potentially including CBD, COVID-19 will be brought under control completely.