Hannah Deacon, co-founder of Maple Tree Consultancy, explores how COVID is elevating and shaping the medical application of CBD
COVID-19 has spread around the planet, sending billions of people into lockdown as health services struggle to cope. The statistics are startling – global cases stand at 23,139,628 and with a total death toll of 801,795 and new daily cases rising (John Hopkins University data 23 Aug 2020), the outbreak has thrown an unprecedented challenge to the world and its citizens. So far, there is no approved treatment or vaccine.
While researchers around the world continue to explore different ways in combating COVID-19, some are looking into how cannabis derived CBD can offer benefits for those suffering from severe forms of this infection.
CBD versus COVID
One recent study from the Dental College of Georgia and Medical College of Georgia showed high CBD formulations could be effective in the treatment of acute respiratory distress syndrome, or ARDS. The condition, also known as a “cytokine storm,” has been seen in serious cases of coronavirus, and even affects patients with other viruses or autoimmune diseases. With ARDS, the patient’s own hyperactive autoimmune system inundates organs with cytokines, resulting in dangerous inflammation. This reaction can cause lung damage and eventual death in COVID-19 victims.
The study model showed CBD “down-regulated” the cytokines, which helped improve oxygen levels and supported recovery of damaged lung tissues. The researchers also intend to perform similar studies to understand how CBD might help other organs recover from the effects of the virus. Researchers from University of Nebraska and the Texas Biomedical Research Institute also took part. In a peer-reviewed article in Brain, Behaviour, and Immunity, the authors said further research is needed to understand if CBD can help patients infected by the virus.
Now early results from an ongoing Israeli study is adding to the growing evidence that cannabis’ ingredients could be a game changing treatment in the fight against COVID-19. The new terpene study is being performed by two Israeli research and development companies, Eybna which specializes in terpene based medicines, and CannaSoul Analytics. The study looks at a proprietary terpene formulation called NT-VRL™, which was created by Eybna to treat inflammatory conditions such as the cytokine storm syndrome found in COVID-19 patients. The formulation contains 30 individual terpenes that are potential anti-inﬂammatory agents all working together to create a positive impact.
While results are ongoing and are yet to be completed, peer reviewed or published, these are positive steps that warrants further investigation into the application of CBD.
This is far from the only investigation into CBD medical benefits.
Researchers at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada, revealed at the beginning of July that certain kinds of high CBD strains could help treat people infected with the virus or even prevent it from developing in the first place by managing to reduce virus receptors.
Study authors found extract from high CBD strains could help to regulate an enzyme that coronavirus attaches to thereby blocking the virus’s ability to infect cells. Results were published on peer review website Preprints.
In Israel, there are several companies and trials underway on how CBD can be used to battle COVID-19. One such example is the partnership of InnoCan Pharma and Tel Aviv University who are working on a new treatment for COVID-19 using exosomes loaded with CBD. Exosomes are small particles created when stem cells multiply. The method will utilise the exosomes as ‘homing missiles,’ as they can uniquely target cell organs that have been damaged.
As it stands, CBD is still an area under development for the treatment of COVID-19. While there have been some promising results on CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties, more studies are needed before leading into clinical trials to test effectiveness. This can take anywhere from months to years.
Speed, agility, and innovation are required from governments, businesses, and society in crafting responses to cope with this evolving new normal. In this period of uncertainty, every therapeutic opportunity and avenue must be considered. CBD opens the door to various exciting possibilities.
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