Can CBD help reduce lung damage for those diagnosed with COVID-19?
For those who are perhaps not up to speed regarding the novel coronavirus, otherwise known as COVID-19, it is an infectious disease known to attack the body’s respiratory system. While there are many different coronavirus strains, including the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and the ones responsible for the common cold, COVID-19 is the one that has taken center stage as of late. And this is for several reasons. After originating in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei Province in China, the virus made its way into the United States and, to date, has infected an estimated 9 million people, according to an article published in the New York Times. It is also worth noting that the virus, according to the same New York Times article, has claimed the lives of an astonishing 228,000 people. Although these statistics are unsettling, about 154,000 people in America have recovered since contracting COVID. And many have credited cannabidiol (CBD) with helping them to do so.
What You May Not Have Known About COVID
Before detailing the benefits of CBD for those struggling with COVID, let’s take a moment to familiarize ourselves with how the virus affects the body. Generally speaking, individuals who contract COVID do so after being exposed to SARS-CoV-2. Also known as severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, SARS-CoV-2 is spread primarily via human-to-human transmission, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID, is small enough to become trapped in the respiratory droplets that spray into the air whenever infected individuals speak, cough, or sneeze. And they can remain there for as long as three hours. For these reasons, CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield advocates wearing face masks as a way to reduce the risk of contracting this potentially deadly virus. Some of the more common symptoms associated with COVID, which can present themselves within 2 to 14 days after being exposed to SARS-CoV-2, include the following:
- Shortness of breath
- Fever and chills
- Muscle aches
- Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
- A sharp decline in taste or smell
Because these symptoms closely mirror those associated with the flu, many people tend to ignore them and believe that they will go away on their own. However, that is seldom the case. More often than not, they get worse and may even prove fatal. For this reason, the CDC routinely advises individuals to seek prompt medical attention if their symptoms last for more than two weeks or include any of the following:
- Chronic chest pain
- Face or lips that appear bluish
- Insomnia or hypersomnia
- An inability to breathe
Why Does the Novel Coronavirus Cause Respiratory Problems?
To better understand why individuals develop the symptoms that they do after contracting COVID, it helps to know a little bit more about what the virus does inside of the body. According to an article published by Hackensack Meridian Health, a New Jersey-based network of healthcare providers, the reason why COVID triggers breathing problems has a lot to do with the fact that the virus causes the lungs to become inflamed after entering the body.
It is also worth noting that individuals with COVID will sometimes develop pneumonia, which makes it not only difficult for the lungs to move oxygen into the body but also to expel carbon dioxide. Not surprisingly, lung inflammation and pneumonia can both take a significant toll on breathing function. Along with the lungs, COVID also attacks the heart, which can lead to myocarditis, a condition characterized by inflammation of the heart muscle. Myocarditis can worsen breathing problems, trigger severe chest pain, and may even lead to heart failure.
Science Points to CBD as a Possible Treatment for Lung Damage Caused by COVID
Cannabidiol (CBD) is known to interact with receptors in the body’s endocannabinoid system to help combat a variety of physical and mental health problems, including anxiety, depression, glaucoma, chronic pain, and even certain cancers. But there might be more to this cannabinoid than previously thought. Emerging data is now suggesting that the same interaction may also improve breathing function among those struggling with lung damage caused by COVID. To wrap our minds around this potential breakthrough, it helps to take a look at a study published in Forbes.
The study, which was conducted by Augusta University located in Georgia, revealed that cannabidiol, one of the many cannabinoids native to the Cannabis Sativa plant, the same plant synonymous with marijuana, might be a viable treatment for those with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARD). For context, ARD is a severe respiratory infection that interferes with breathing and causes chest pain, both of which are caused by an overactive inflammatory response in the lungs and throughout most of the upper body. Cannabidiol appears to slow down the production of cytokines in the body, according to researchers and scientists involved in the study. For those who are not aware, cytokines are proteins that are secreted by cells within the immune system, and they play a critical role when it comes to cell signaling.
In the study that involved mice infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID, researchers found that cannabidiol reduced the respiratory distress caused by ARD. And it does so by interacting with receptors in the endocannabinoid system, which slows down cytokine production. Researchers found that the lower these cytokines levels fell, the less each mouse appeared to struggle with pain or breathing problems caused by the combination of COVID and ARD. However, the truly impressive findings did not end there as the mice given cannabidiol appeared to develop a much stronger immune system as well. And this was evidenced by a marked increase in lymphocytes in their blood. For reference, lymphocytes are white blood cells found in the immune system that aid in fighting off infections and illnesses.
The Future of CBD as a Go-to Treatment for Lung Damage Caused by COVID-19
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