CBD and COVID-19?
Karen Berger, PharmD, Medical Writer
How could CBD (cannabidiol), the non-intoxicating component of weed, potentially treat COVID-19?
In the treatment of coronavirus (COVID-19), we have heard a lot about Gilead Science’s drug Remdesivir, which may be promising in shortening the duration of illness. We have heard about other antivirals, both previously developed and new ones in development. We have heard about plasma of recovered patients as an experimental treatment for COVID-19 patients. And of course, we have heard about vaccine trials. But until recently, we have not heard about medical cannabis or CBD for COVID-19.
On April 21, thegrowthop.com reported that researchers at Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv, Israel, are studying the effects of cannabidiol (CBD) on COVID-19 patients. Israel’s Channel 12 reported that the hospital will administer CBD to dozens of coronavirus patients in moderate condition, as part of an experimental treatment. They are hoping that the antiviral properties of cannabis may slow the spread of the virus.
The study is being done by the hospital, and not in partnership with any drug company. Dr. Barak Cohen, senior anesthesiologist and head of Corona management at Ichilov Hospital and the research’s initiators, stated that “this is a novel approach to treating some of the symptoms, using a component of the cannabis plant [CBD] that is considered safe and non-addictive.”
Another clinical trial is studying CBD in combination with steroid treatment. The study is being done at Rabin Medical Center in Petah Tikva, Israel. The medical center is partnering with Stero Biotech, an Israeli CBD company, and Clalit, Israel’s largest HMO.
“We estimate that our CBD-based treatment can enhance the current treatment of those patients who are in life-threatening conditions,” said David Bass, Stero Biotech’s founder and CEO, in a press release. “Hospitalized COVID-19 patients are mostly being treated with steroids, and our study is planned to demonstrate the benefit of a combined solution with steroid treatments. We are hopeful that this study will lead to faster benefit for the growing number of COVID-19 patients in Israel and around the world.”
Another CBD clinical trial is being conducted by the University of Tel Aviv in partnership with InnoCan Pharma. The treatment will deliver CBD through exosomes, which are cell structures created by stem cells when they multiply. The researchers expect the exosomes to target specific cells that have been damaged by COVID-19. The CBD is expected to go to those cells only.
How could CBD potentially treat COVID-19? The illness triggers a severe form of pneumonia, which can cause respiratory failure. Although older patients with other conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or obesity are at higher risk of dying from COVID-19, young, healthy people can die from it, too.
When COVID-19 patients develop pneumonia, and it reaches the advanced stage, the body deploys something called a cytokine storm. This is when the immune system attacks, but ends up flooding the lungs and killing the patient. Currently, doctors are trying to suppress the cytokine storm in COVID-19 patients with large doses of steroids. Studies have shown that CBD can also decrease the immune response, but in a different way than steroids do. The researchers are hoping that the combination of CBD and steroids will have a strong effect on the immune system, potentially saving more lives than with steroids alone.
CBD companies cannot make claims to efficacy against COVID-19. In fact, the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) is suing companies who make such claims. Bureau of Consumer Protection Director Andrew Smith stated, “There’s no proof that any product will prevent or treat COVID-19 or that any CBD product will treat cancer…Let’s be clear: companies making these claims can look forward to an FTC lawsuit…”
Nothing is proven yet. So if you have COVID-19, ask your doctor before trying CBD. And smoking anything, even cannabis, could make the infection worse.
Do you think CBD will be helpful, as part of a comprehensive treatment plan, in decreasing inflammation and improving outcomes in COVID-19 patients?
At MyCureAll, we offer pharmacist-approved CBD products in a variety of formulations to suit your preferences. We are also studying how various strains of medical cannabis affect different medical conditions. Check out our unique Canna-Meter, which helps you have the ultimate medical cannabis experience, and will save you time and money! Also, we are working to get medical cannabis covered by insurance. Sign our petition today!