Cannabinoids such as CBD (cannabidiol) are widely proclaimed to be a natural remedy for an assortment of medical conditions. Admittedly, some of the claims are overhyped, however, many reinforce the cannabis plant’s impressive stature in the world of medicine. But what about CBD and Coronavirus? Do cannabinoids such as CBD offer a solution to the COVID-19 pandemic?
What is Coronavirus?
Coronavirus or COVID-19 is a new strain of virus that can affect your lungs and airways. In the twilight hour of 2019, the Chinese government declared the outbreak, which began in Wuhan, had spread nationwide.
Throughout January and February, the rest of the world went (ignorantly) about its business; but by the 11th March, the WHO (World Health Organisation) declared COVID-19 a pandemic. What was once news, has now become a global crisis, with Europe becoming the epicentre.
For exactly how long the Coronavirus pandemic will last is unknown, but we do know that it should be taken seriously. In a short period of time, over 300,000 people have been infected, with almost 20,000 fatal cases.*
What’s worse is that symptoms take an average of five days to appear, if at all. Additionally, a lack of testing provides us with inaccurate results, whilst the fatality rate could be higher than suggested because victims may die of consequent conditions that are triggered by the virus, such as pneumonia.
In order to combat the situation, countries have been independently declaring a nationwide “state of emergency” – which is essentially a “lockdown” – residents are to stay at home and only go out for essential purposes, with the only businesses operating being “essential businesses” – most notably: supermarkets and pharmacies.
Given the facts, isolation appears to be the best solution. Despite the implementation of these measures, the contamination count will continue to rise as a result of the delayed symptoms.
What are the symptoms of Coronavirus?
COVID-19 symptoms can range from non-existent to extreme. The virus targets the lungs and induces fever and a dry cough, which could eventually lead to respiratory complications. Signs of infection appear after an average of five days of exposure but could take up to two weeks.
Who can Coronavirus infect?
In similar fashion to the flu, Coronavirus can infect anyone, with a different level of severity.
A comforting point to note is that most young children do not incur symptoms, making them “healthy carriers”. Whereas severe cases are usually compiled of the elderly and anyone with underlying health issues – these are known as the vulnerable. However, exceptions have occurred. With the remaining cases experiencing the above-mentioned symptoms – whether mild or distressing – a full recovery appears likely.
The vulnerable can be of any age-group – as Coronavirus targets the lungs, anyone with underlying health issues ranging from asthma to Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), is largely at risk. Similarly, anyone with a weakened immune system or pregnant should take extra caution, likewise with those diagnosed with a long-term condition, whether it be diabetes or any other incapacitating illness.
Can CBD treat Coronavirus?
We’ve all heard of CBD’s marvel, but the fact remains that it’s no panacea. Do its proven medicinal efficacies offer support to victims of COVID-19?
The truth is, that there is no conclusive evidence to suggest so, and if anything, a collaboration of existing research is contradicting.
Let’s start with what we do know – CBD helps to maintain homeostasis and boost the immune system, which improves the body’s defence against alien invaders.
Cannabidiol has proven to be one of nature’s finest anti-inflammatory agents, and phytocannabinoids’ interaction with the ECS (endocannabinoid system) help to regulate many bodily functions and strengthen the immune system. That’s not to suggest that if you do take CBD, you will not catch Coronavirus, however, you should be better equipped to fight against the virus’s symptoms.
Surely logic dictates that CBD is a viable remedy for Coronavirus or at least one of its symptoms? To contradict – many have reported that anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen worsen COVID-19’s symptoms. However, this is currently a suggestion, with the public being advised to switch to paracetamol until further research is conducted.
Additionally, both in vitro and in vivo reports suggest that cannabinoids may prove detrimental to many viruses, as they lead to worsened disease outcomes.
But hang on a moment, wasn’t medical cannabis used as a remedy for HIV? At the height of the AIDS epidemic – Mary Jane Rathburn, AKA “Brownie Mary”, became famous for illegally baking and distributing cannabis brownies to AIDS patients in their hospital beds. As opposed to worsening the virus’s symptoms, the cannabis-infused edibles improved patients’ value of life as they helped with nausea, diarrhoea, fatigue, vomiting, and loss of appetite.
So, do CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties help or hinder Coronavirus symptoms?
A lot would depend on the credibility of the government’s advice of swapping ibuprofen for paracetamol.
The BBC has released an article that further adds to the confusion with non-conclusive and contradictory statements from medical professionals, which include statements, such as:
“Experts believe that ibuprofen’s anti-inflammatory properties may “dampen” the body’s immune response.”
“I have not seen any scientific evidence that clearly shows a totally healthy 25-year-old taking ibuprofen for symptoms of COVID-19 is putting themselves at additional risk of complications.”
So what if the statement is true?
Well, it would be advised that should you become subject to Coronavirus symptoms, then you should stop taking CBD.
And what if it’s not?
Then it is quite probable that cannabidiols’ medicinal efficacies may, in fact, offer relief to COVID-19’s symptoms as CBD has proven effective on asthma’s symptoms by reducing airway inflammation and fibrosis – which are a consequence of the infection.
There’s enough evidence to suggest that CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties may offer relief to Coronavirus symptoms. Furthermore, cannabidiol’s ability to boost the immune system may help prevent severe manifestation.
Conversely, CBD has showcased a negative reaction on a number of viruses. That combined with the government warning regarding ibuprofen – albeit with no conclusive evidence – may suggest a rare negative regarding CBD.
Based on what we know, if you are currently taking CBD products, then continue to do so. Moreover, if you are not taking CBD and want to supplement your immune system, then the cannabinoid is still a viable option. However, should you fall victim to Coronavirus symptoms, the most important thing to do would be to follow your government’s protocol as to how to correspond with medical professionals and to consider stop taking CBD, that is at least until further studies have been conducted.
*Figures accurate at the time of publication