A new study has revealed early evidence that CBD may help to reduce cytokine storms and excessive lung inflammation in patients with COVID-19.
Carried out by researchers at the Dental College of Georgia and Medical College of Georgia, the study shows that CBD could help patients with COVID-19 who show signs of respiratory distress to avoid extreme interventions like mechanical ventilation as well as death from acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).
The researchers say that clinical trials to determine optimal dosage and timing is needed before CBD becomes part of the treatment for COVID-19.
ARDS in COVID-19
The researchers’ studies have indicated that pure CBD can help the lungs recover from the overwhelming inflammation, or ‘cytokine storm’, caused by the COVID-19 virus, and help to restore healthier oxygen levels in the body.
Dr Babak Baban, immunologist and interim associate dean for research at DCG and corresponding author of the study in the journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, said: “ARDS is a major killer in severe cases of some respiratory viral infections, including severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and we have an urgent need for better intervention and treatment strategies.”
The researchers’ findings have been possible due to the finding of a safe model to duplicate the lung damage caused by ARDS.
The model produced classic symptoms of ARDS, then, CBD significantly downregulated classic indicators of the excess, such as inflammation-promoting cytokines, as it improved oxygen levels in the blood and enabled the lungs to recover from the structural damage.
Lung function in COVID-19
Cytokine storms impact cell communication and can both promote and deter inflammation. In the case of COVID-19, there is excessive production of inflammation-promoting molecules like the interleukins IL-6 and IL-1β, as well as immune cells like neutrophils and monocytes.
In order to test the efficacy of CBD for these storms, the researchers looked at objective measures of lung function in mice like levels of proinflammatory cytokines, oxygen levels in the blood before and after treatment, as well as temperature, an indicator of inflammation. Oxygen levels went up, while temperatures and cytokine levels went down with CBD therapy.
Both clinical symptoms and physical lung changes resulting from ARDS were reversed with CBD treatment, the researchers say. CBD quickly improved the clinical symptoms in the mouse models, then later detailed studies of the lungs showed damage to their structure, like tissue overgrowth, scarring and swelling also had totally or partially resolved.
The researchers next steps include conducting similar studies on other organs impacted by COVID-19 including the gut, heart, and brain.