Cannabidiol, or CBD, can help to mitigate the cytokine storm, an exaggerated immune response to Covid-19.
Scientists at the University of Georgia in the United States have found evidence that cannabidiol (CBD) can mitigate the damage caused by Covid-19. In an article published in the journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, the team explains that the substance has the potential to help control exaggerated responses of the immune system, such as the cytokine storm and lung inflammation, serious and common consequences of Sars-CoV-2 infection.
“Our laboratory studies indicate pure CBD can help the lungs recover from the overwhelming inflammation, or cytokine storm, caused by the COVID-19 virus, and restore healthier oxygen levels in the body,” said Dr. Jack Yu, member of the Medical College of Georgia and co-author of the article.
Their findings were made possible by the additional discovery of a safe and inexpensive model that allows scientists to simulate lung damage caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome in the laboratory.
In the analyzes conducted by the group, CBD proved to be effective, as it improved blood oxygen levels and helped the lungs recover. A reduction in key indicators of the exaggerated response of the immune system, such as interleukins IL-6 and neutrophils, was observed.
The new model was created based on viral genetic material: it is a synthetic version of the Sars-CoV-2 double-stranded RNA – responsible for hijacking our cells in order to reproduce – called POLY (I:C).
Our bodies are not used to this double-stranded RNA, so, as when we are contaminated by the virus, POLY (I:C) receives immediate attention from the toll-like receptor 3, a family of receptors that help the body to recognize invaders and activate our innate immune response. Because coronaviruses are huge (they have the largest known viral RNA), human cells “go crazy” and trigger an exaggerated immune response.
In the test, rats received daily doses of POLY (I:C) for three days and then had CBD injected, also daily. According to the scientists, the animals that received the CBD first had a more adequate immune response to the injected RNA.
CBD is believed to look like some endocannabinoids, which are a natural cell signaling system involved in various functions, from sleep and reproduction to the immune response. CB1 and CB2, the main receptors of this system, are found extensively throughout the body, including the brain and the respiratory system.
Scientists know that more studies need to be done with CBD, including clinical trials in humans, before the substance is approved as a treatment for Covid-19. Still, they are excited about the results obtained in the new study.
“Acute respiratory distress syndrome is a major killer in severe cases of some respiratory viral infections, including severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2),” said Babak Baban, co-author of the study. “We have an urgent need for better intervention and treatment strategies.”