CBD may help ease lung damage from COVID-19

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Cannabidiol (CBD) may help reduce the cytokine storm and excessive lung inflammation that is killing many patients with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), according to new research published in the journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research.

For the study, researchers developed a model using the large, unique genetic structure of COVID-19 to produce symptoms of acute respiratory stress syndrome, like the overwhelming, destructive immune response. CBD significantly downregulated classic indicators of the excess, like inflammation-promoting cytokines, as it improved oxygen levels in the blood and enabled the lungs to recover from the structural damage.

Mice received three, once-a-day doses of POLY (I:C) in the nasal passageway. CBD was given by a shot in the abdomen, the first dose two hours after the second POLY (I:C) treatment, then every other day for a total of three days in a process that sought to mimic mice getting treatment about the time a human would begin to experience trouble breathing and likely seek medical care. Given too early, CBD might interfere with a proper immune response against the virus, the researchers said.

CBD quickly improved the clinical symptoms, then later detailed studies of the lungs showed damage to their structure, like tissue overgrowth, scarring and swelling, also had totally or partially resolved. Their next steps include doing similar studies on other organs impacted by COVID-19 including the gut, heart, and brain.

While more work, including clinical trials to determine optimal dosage and timing, is needed before CBD becomes part of the treatment for COVID-19, researchers said the early evidence could help patients showing signs of respiratory distress avoid extreme interventions like mechanical ventilation as well as death from acute respiratory distress syndrome.

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