Let’s get this out of the way now: You should not take CBDPrevent COVID-19. You shouldn’t smoke pot to stop this. COVID-19—in fact, that will probably make things worse. It is a bad idea to drink. CBD seltzers or take gummies to protect yourself from a virus that has the potential to kill you—especially when there are vaccines that are proven to protect you.
It can be equally true, however. CBD from cannabis has a role to play in this pandemic—from treating COVID directly, to dealing with the pandemic’s emotional side effects. We’re already seeing this potential teased out in a flourish of new scientific research.
Scientists published last week findings that suggested there may be a new way to approach the problem. CBDThey believe that the coronavirus may be prevented from reproducing inside of cells. The researchers also discovered that the patients who were prescribed medication had a higher chance of catching it. CBDLower rates of epilepsy-based medications were reported COVID-19 positivity rates than people who hadn’t been prescribed CBD, anEarly evidence suggests that this may hold true in the real world. This was hot off the heels of another recent study suggesting two other cannabis compounds could bind to the coronavirus’ spike protein—stopping it from getting into cells in the first place.
“When COVID first started, there was a lot of interest in the potential for cannabidiol [to] treat COVID patients, at that time there was scant data to hang our hat on,”Ziva Cooper, director of UCLA CannabisResearch Initiative told The Daily Beast. “Then here are two examples, both published within a week, that show maybe there is some promise.”
Both studies concluded that more clinical trials were needed. CBDAnd COVID-19. There are currently some clinical trials in progress. ClinicalTrials.gov currently has seven registered clinical trials. CBDThis is in relation to COVID-19The Daily Beast learned that there are many more projects underway elsewhere.
A variety of research has examined the importance of CBDAcute care COVID-19This is the time period during which you experience symptoms. Other researchers are also investigating the issue. CBDCOVID could be used to treat any residual effects that may have occurred after an infection has been eliminated. This is also known as “long COVID”). A third avenue of research involves determining whether CBDCan help with dealing with emotional burnout due to the pandemic.
There’s still a lot we don’t know about what CBDCOVID and the potential for its application is growing every time a new set of studies are published. We need to figure out what its role will be—perhaps sooner than we think.
There is a possibility that cannabis might be used to reduce the side effects of certain diseases. COVID-19 isn’t especially new. One theory that emerged in the early days of the pandemic was the anti-inflammatory properties of CBD (the common name for cannabidiol, a major non-psychoactive compound in cannabis), might reduce the impact of cytokine storms—intense immune system reactions that contribute to COVID-19’s life threatening symptoms.
“If CBD might be helpful for that, then essentially, it could perhaps prevent increased severity of disease and prevent the loss of life in certain situations,”Cooper.
Inspired by this idea, José Alexandre de Souza Crippa, a psychiatrist at Ribeirão Preto Medical School at the University of São Paulo, conducted a clinical trial on CBD and acute COVID infection during Brazil’s winter 2020 COVID-19 wave. The study involved 91 COVID patients. It lasted 28 days. Half of the patients were successful. CBDHalf of the participants received a placebo. The study did not find any significant differences. CBDIt had no effect whatsoever on the condition.
Crippa has been following the patients for over a year. The results are still the same: “We had great expectations for the acute phase [trials] but we didn’t see that,”According to him, The Daily Beast.
This inquiry, however, is not closed. Cooper points out, however that some patients are not to be tolerated. CBD well, which suggests it’s safe to keep these studies going. These patients received low levels of the drug. CBD.
“There is a window of opportunity here to go up and use a much higher dose of cannabidiol in that patient population to determine if it might have an effect on COVID symptomatology,”Cooper.
CBDFor the Long Haul
Crippa is not deterred and has reverted to investigation CBD’s effects on long COVID—in which patients are debilitated for several months by symptoms like headaches, malaise, severe fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and shortness of breath. He’s conducting MRI scans on three groups: people treated with CBD and diagnosed with COVID from his earlier study; a placebo group who had COVID but didn’t get CBD• A third, untested group who has never been positive for COVID.
Crippa’s rationale is that CBDIt could be beneficial in reducing anxiety and depression that are common among long COVID patients. He’s also interested in whether CBD, which has shown neuroprotective effects in Parkinson’s patients, might alleviate brain fog associated with long COVID.
“We have already done studies in animals, and cannabidiol seems to have a neuroprotection and anti-cognitive deficit effect, which is a key problem in long COVID,”Crippa. “So it’s reasonable to infer that cannabidiol might prevent this in the long-term.”
But, he cautioned that reasonable expectations don’t mean this idea will pan out. “It’s trial and error,”He stated.
Courtesy Imperial College London
Crippa’s group isn’t the only one interested in what cannabis-based medicine could do for long COVID. Drug Science UK, a non-profit group led by Imperial College London neuropsychopharmacologist David Nutt, is in the early stages of a clinical trial that will give 30 long COVID patients access to a CBDMediCabilis, a dominant form of medical marijuana (a liquid product manufactured by Bod Australia), and test their tolerance to the drug between February and June.
The spotlight on this study is especially bright thanks to the participation of Nutt, widely-known as a longtime advocate for drug research who was dismissed from the U.K.’s Advisory Council for the Misuse of Drugs in 2009 for his opinion that MDMA is less dangerous than horseback riding and alcohol. MDMA has been rediscovered as a potential “breakthrough” drug for PTSD.
David Badcock, the CEO of Drug Science UK, said the group is undertaking the study because long COVID patients experience symptoms like pain, anxiety, sleeplessness, and high blood pressure or heart rates—symptoms which are also seen in conditions managed with medical cannabis. (For instance, anAn earlier study by this group showed that 75 people with chronic pain or anxiety saw an improvement in their quality of life after three months of access to medical cannabis.
“As there is no established medical treatment for the [long COVID] condition, we felt it was important to study every possible option for people who’ve become ill during the pandemic—including medical cannabis,”According to him, The Daily Beast.
This research is in the early stages. Crippa is currently analyzing his data and Drug Science UK’s trial is just beginning to establish if medical cannabis is safe to be used by long-term COVID patients. Nutt’s team and Crippa will continue to analyze the data, but if nothing happens, they will expand the trial into a controlled randomized study.
From the Physical to the Mental
WhetherOr not CBDCOVID symptoms and its potential to help with psychological issues. One area that could be improved is anxiety. CBDStrong potential due to the aforementioned “convergence”The Daily Beast was told by Steven Laviolette (a Canadian professor of anatomy and cell biology at Western University).
Laviolette previously proved that CBDIt can inhibit the development of fear-related memories among rats by interfering with the serotonin signaling pathways within the brain. “Serotonin, of course, is really important for anxiety and mood disorders,”According to him, The Daily Beast. “Most of the major drugs that treat those disorders target the serotonin system, so it’s very promising that CBD also seems to produce anti anxiety effects for the serotonin pathway.”
Steven Laviolette, left
Courtesy Western University
At the University of Texas at Austin, at present there are at most two trials that seek to examine the effect of alcohol. CBDThe pandemic: Emotional coping strategies But Crippa’s group has also already published work that showed how CBDHelped hospital staff who were exhausted to cope with stress.
During the acute COVID study in Brazil, Crippa also ran a study on 118 frontline health-care workers at Ribeirão Preto Medical School University Hospital. The 300mg of opiates was taken by half the patients. CBDAlong with regular calls to a psychiatrist, and motivational videos. Another group received the same treatment, including a phone call.
The results were better than the placebo group. CBDThe anxiety and emotional exhaustion scores of the group were significantly lower. “After this one month, it was clear that the group that received cannabidiol did much better,”Crippa.
Science has a message for us
However, research that is new and innovative can often be done. anPeople can push unproven cannabis ideas onto the general public. U.S. Food and Drug Administration was one example. CBDFalse claims by manufacturers that their products protect or treat COVID.
Cooper and Crippa both cautioned against the CBDThe stuff that people purchase in a shop is not likely to be the same as what they have received from clinical trials. This means that it must conform to FDA guidelines and test for unknown chemicals. Scientists are able to determine exactly how many CBD is in every dose—something that’s not always true of over the counter CBD products.
In other words it’s not the same stuff you can buy at a dispensary, let alone a gas station.
Medical cannabis research is ongoing CBDIf there seems to be too much momentum, it can grind to a halt. Snake oil salesmen may slow the pace and put up agonizing hurdles. These types of research are not difficult enough without the existing barriers.
“Given the socio-cultural history of candidates and then the reluctance among sort of the established psychiatric community to be more open minded towards cannabis based pharmacotherapies it’s been challenging,”Laviolette. “We really need to have a stronger investment for research into this area, and less and less red tape as well.”
At the moment we still don’t know exactly what role, if any, CBDwhen dealing with COVID-19or the emotional effects. But there’s certainly enough research to say it’s worth learning more.
“It seems like right now we’re pretty far from knowing precisely what we can hang our hat on,”Cooper spoke. “But, you know, this is how science operates. You get some hits, you get some signals. And then other studies are built off of that.”
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