We have all borne witness to the horrors of COVID 19 in the news and its capacity to send nations to lockdown. This invisible enemy attacks our respiratory and immune system disguising itself as the common flu creating an urgent need for new therapies and strategies to prevent COVID-19.
Many of us have been concentrating on high immunity diets and lifestyle patterns. CBD has become of particular interest to many as it may not only improve our immune system but help treat Covid-19. Now, a team of Canadian scientists believes to have found a relationship between high CBD cannabis and preventing coronavirus infections.
Confirmed Cases of Coronavirus
What Are the Coronavirus Symptoms?
As from the 18th May the UK government updated the main coronavirus symptoms. They are now:
- High temperature – If your chest or back is hot to touch, alternatively doctors consider you to have a fever if your temperature is above 37.8C.
- Continuous cough – Rather than the dry cough, health care officials are advising to be mindful of whether you are coughing more than usual. This means either for more than an hour or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours
- Loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – If you’ve noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal.
- Flulike symptoms – Having the chills, repeated shaking, muscle pain, breathing difficulties and sore throat.
These symptoms may take up to five days to manifest and those who are lucky enough to be symptom-free by day 12, are unlikely to develop any at all. As it is unclear how many people develop symptoms overall it is important we take preventative measures.
Experts around the world believe most people who get the infection will only have mild disease. Some will be asymptomatic meaning that they will be carriers (for up to 14 days) but experience no symptoms.
CBD and Preventing Coronavirus
An April 2020 collaboration between cannabis research companies Pathway RX and Swysh Inc. and the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada, found that certain Cannabis sativa extracts high in CBD could be used in treatments to prevent infection with SARS-CoV-2, the very same virus that causes COVID-19.
To enter the human body, the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus requires two key proteins: ACE2 and TMPRSS2. Modulate ACE2 is a receptor protein that the virus can dock to. TMPRSS2 is a so-called protease that activates viral entry into the cell.
Dr. Waradon Sungnak from Wellcome Sanger Institute mentions that receptor protein ACE2 and the TMPRSS2 protease that may activate COVID-19 entry into our bodies are expressed in cells in different organs. The cells in the nose have the highest levels of both COVID-19 virus proteins making this the most likely initial route for infection.
ACE2 and TMPRSS2 are also found in high quantities in cells in the cornea of the eye, respiratory system, lung, kidney, and in the lining of the intestine.
It would seem logical then that any avenue that inhibits viral entry and spread would constitute plausible therapeutic avenues. This is where CBD comes in.
Despite more research being needed, the strain of Cannabis sativa tested proved to decrease disease susceptibility as well as serve to be a useful and safe adjunct therapy to the treatment of COVID-19.
Specifically, the study finds that high CBD Cannabis sativa has an effect on the expression of ACE2 and TMPRSS2. Translated into layman terms this means ACE2 expression (the number of receptors per cell) decreases – it does not mean that ACE2 is inhibited but that there are just fewer molecules per cell after the treatment complicating entry for the virus and thus possibly acting to prevent COVID-19.
Their initial data also suggests that some high CBD Cannabis sativa extracts down-regulate protease TMPRSS2, another critical protein required for SARS-CoV2 entry into our cells.
The investigation furthers that CBD could even be used to “develop easy-to-use preventative treatments in the form of mouthwash and throat gargle products,” the study suggested, with a “potential to decrease viral entry” through the mouth.
All tests were high in anti-inflammatory CBD — but low in THC, the part that produces the cannabis high.
With COVID-19 continuing to spread all over the world, it has become a number one priority for researchers to find options for possible treatment.
Despite it being frustrating for those who want a clear answer now we have to accept that it may not be until 2021 that we find a vaccine for coronavirus or anything that helps us treat COVID-19.
With this in mind it is important that all possible studies and theories for discovering safe treatments to treat Covid-19 are explored. It will be many months before we know for sure whether CBD is a safe and effective option against COVID-19 but it proves that there is definitely a sign of hope.
Editor’s note: So far, there is no approved treatment or vaccine for COVID-19. This article is meant to be a summary of some of the research so far into cannabis as a possible COVID-19 treatment, not an endorsement of its use as such. With the COVID-19 situation rapidly changing, always consult your local health authority and health care provider for the most up-to-date information on treatment options and cannabis use during the pandemic.