Reading time – 5 minutes
Remember ‘before time’? Before shutdowns, before lockdowns, before toilet paper shortages and face masks everywhere? When we had handshakes instead of nitrile gloves and could hug friends without worry?
It’s been only about six months since the first case of the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 was identified. And how quickly it has changed EVERYTHING. Every country in the world has been affected. How can something so tiny have caused so much destruction so fast?
It didn’t take long before wild claims started flying about all kinds of ‘cures’. Drink hot liquids. Chug tonic water. People have even become sick or died from ingesting bleach in a quest to find something to defend themselves against COVID-19.
There have also been some claims about CBD and COVID. Cannabis is still emerging from a hundred years of prohibition. Research already had a lot of work to do to catch up to close that gap. Now, with a new pandemic disease, research is working double-time to find solutions for all of us.
At Amphora, we’re driven by science, not snake oil. There is nothing conclusive yet about CBD’s effect on COVID-19. But there are some interesting early findings that we are watching with great interest.
What COVID Does
COVID-19 is a sneaky disease. Most of what we see in the press is about its effects on the respiratory system. That’s what sparks our fears of hospitals wards filled with patients on ventilators. We often associate the disease only with the lungs.
But severe cases of COVID show that all systems are vulnerable. COVID can go after the kidneys and the heart. It can produce fever in some and discoloured ‘COVID-toes’ in others. And in young, otherwise healthy people who seemingly recover from the virus, there is emerging evidence that COVID can cause them to have strokes.
This curious cluster of seemingly unrelated systems may seem random, but there is a common thread. Each one has a relationship with inflammation.
The Inflammation Connection
Inflammation is part of our body’s natural response to many illnesses. Our bodies are amazing machines. So much of what they do on their own is done to keep us healthy. But sometimes, bodies can overreact. Our own immune attempts to cure us can sometimes hurt us.
A fever, for instance. A mild fever is a good thing. The body elevates temperature to help successfully fight an infection. But a severe fever that gets too high can start to kill off healthy cells, including in the brain.
Inflammation works the same way. The body defends itself by creating inflammation around cells that are sick or injured. This helps to isolate them to either attack them and kill them off or target them and heal them. But just like a fever can get dangerously high, inflammation can get out of control.
In severe COVID cases, patients can develop a cytokine storm. This happens when the immune system goes after not just the sick cells, but everything. It basically napalms every system – healthy cells and all. This can lead to kidney failure, heart failure, blood clots, and death.
What does CBD have to do with any of that?
CBD and Inflammation
CBD has long been looked at for its promise in preventing, reducing, and treating inflammation. Already, there are human and animal studies that show CBD’s effectiveness in managing inflammation for a number of conditions.
There are also studies showing that some of the terpenes found in cannabis and hemp share additional anti-inflammatory properties. There is no end to the potential found in these remarkable plants.
A cytokine storm is hyperinflammation run amok. Could CBD help shelter the body from the dangers of a cytokine storm?
CBD and ACE2 Receptors
Something we know with certainty about this new coronavirus is how it gets in. It enters through the mouth, nose, or eyes. The spiky ‘crown’ of the COVID-19 virus then binds to the ACE2 receptors that we all produce naturally.
Once it makes a home inside our ACE2 receptor cells, the virus starts to replicate. It then invades the next cell. And the next. And the next. Either the body fights it off successfully… or it doesn’t.
CBD is known to help modulate the number of cell receptors we produce. Fewer receptors mean fewer possible points vulnerable places for the virus to get in. As Igor Kovalchuk, a leading researcher into the potential applications of CBD in COVID-19 says:
"Imagine a cell being a large building. Cannabinoids decrease the number of doors in the building by, say, 70 per cent, so this means the level of entry will be restricted. So, therefore, you have more chance to fight it."
Closing these ‘doors’ into our cells to shut out the coronavirus certainly is a promising possibility. Instead of sheltering at home with our doors closed to visitors, we could slam our cellular doors right in COVID’s face.
What’s Next for CBD and COVID Research?
Good science takes time. It takes study and peer-review, and replication and major scrutiny before anyone can say with confidence that something is a scientific fact. It is no different for the scientific study of cannabis, CBD, and COVID-19.
While we don’t yet know whether CBD will factor into future treatments for COVID, we do know that there is evidence CBD has powerful effects in reducing inflammation in multiple systems throughout the body. We know that CBD works gently on our endocannabinoid system and influences how it balances our responses, including our immune responses.
All this makes CBD a promising area for science to move quickly in the search for reliable treatment, prevention, and cure for COVID-19.
Amphora will be watching and blogging as the science comes in. Until then, stay safe and stay happy.
Written by | Infused Amphora Team
The Infused Amphora Team is dedicated to creating resources to educate and engage consumers on the growing evidence of CBD benefits and the extensive health and wellness properties of CBD oil.
Contributors | Angus Taylor + Dr Gaylord Wardell
IPI is a pharmaceutical ingredient company that cultivates cannabis strains curated to extract specific cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids for the formulation of effects-based health and wellness products. Angus is an experienced public speaker, engaging stakeholders, governments and media. Angus was the co-founder of NewLeaf Cannabis, Canada’s most successful retail brand to date, and has been established as a well-known and recognized expert in the field.
Dr Wardell is a practising physician with over 40 years of clinical and educational experience in pain management, medical practices and education. Dr Wardell is past President of the Pain Society of Alberta, and current President of the Alberta Medical Association, section of Pain. He is a popular public speaker, an active blogger on medical and pain-related issues, and proponent for scientific validation for patients experiencing pain.
Infused Amphora “Learn” is intended for informational purposes only and is NOT a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.