CBD and Long COVID

*This article is purely informational and does not constitute medical advice. Consult your healthcare provider about CBD.

CBD and COVID recovery

COVID isn’t a commonplace disease. For some unfortunate patients, COVID leaves an inconvenient physical trace or complication long after they test negative from the virus. 

If symptoms like tiredness, shortness of breath, breathing difficulty, chest pain, brain fog, muscle pain, and heart palpitations, among others, stretches for 12 weeks or more after infection, this might be an indication of long COVID or post-COVID-19 syndrome. 

There is no current treatment for long COVID but it can be prevented and managed. Vaccines reduce your risk of getting long COVID. Consulting doctors for symptom management helps too. 

What is CBD?

CBD or cannabidiol is a compound isolated from the cannabis plant (legally extracted from hemp varieties). 

RELATED: 2018 Farm Bill CBD: How Does the Bill Relate to CBD?

Often the subject of medical research, CBD has been commercialized into many forms – from common ones like CBD oil, creams, vapes to eclectic products such as shampoo, tea, toothpaste, and more.

Aside from its non-psychoactive nature (it can’t cause high), it’s regarded as a “relatively safe” compound by WHO.  In 2017, the WHO Expert Committee on Drug Dependence tagged CBD as “does not appear to have abuse potential or cause harm.”

CBD and Long COVID?

A not so recent study from December 2020 by Indrani Sarkar et al., proposed “cannabis as an important therapeutic plant against post-Covid symptoms.” They were mainly referring to cannabis’s compounds, CBD and CVN (Cannabivarin).

Through several sophisticated molecular docking and simulation studies, Sarkar and colleagues were able to see how CBD and CVN lower the level of particular proteins (ACE2, IL-6, TSP, and NRP1) by binding to them. 

RELATED: The Most Effective Cannabis Compound Combinations

Lowering ACE2, IL-6, TSP, and NRP1 is beneficial for post-Covid symptoms recovery. 

Here’s why. 

*This might get a little technical but we’ll get there. 

ACE2 or angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 are proteins gliding just around the outside of a cell. When a person catches the virus, the virus binds to ACE2 like a key inserted into a lock. Once the bound ACE2 enters the cell, the virus will be able to replicate itself inside. 

The second protein with an important role to play in COVID infection is IL-6 or Interleukin-6. During an infection, this pro-inflammatory cytokine is increased. The exaggerated number of IL-6 may cause an overactive and persistent inflammatory response. This abnormal response can persist even after the virus has long passed.

An overactive inflammatory response is consistent with the symptoms experienced from long COVID. 

The third protein affected by the coronavirus is NRP1 or Neuropilin 1. NRP1 assists the virus’ actions. 

According to Dr Gary Wenk in his paper on Psychology Today, ACE2, IL-6, TSP, and NRP1 have increased levels among long COVID patients. COVID seems to damage these receptors beyond repair. 

Receptors like ACE2, IL-6, TSP, and NRP1 tell the cell what to do (to self-destruct, excrete certain chemicals, etc.). If these receptors are damaged, existing in abnormally high levels, the cell’s response would probably be abnormal too. On a molecular level, this is what happens to COVID long-haulers. 

CBD and COVID recovery
Smiling Dr. Babak Baban and Dr. Jack Yu

CREDIT: EurekAlert

The Dental College of Georgia and Medical College of Georgia researchers reported CBD’s ability to increase oxygen levels. They attributed CBD’s favorable effects, this time, to its ability in increasing levels of apelin. 

Apelin is a natural peptide that greatly reduces inflammation. During a “cytokine storm,” apelin’s presence is almost reduced to zero. 

“CBD almost brought it back to a normal level,” Dr. Jack Yu, physician-scientist and chief of pediatric plastic surgery, says. 

A cytokine storm triggers an inflammatory overreaction of the body that causes further damage to the lungs, post-COVID. This complication has killed many COVID patients already. 

A Feasibility Study on the Usage of CBD for Long COVID is in the Works

An open-label, phase 2 clinical trial assessing the feasibility of Broad-spectrum CBD for long COVID is in the process. One of the main aims of the study is to test the feasibility of subjecting “individuals diagnosed with Long COVID into a treatment trial of medicinal cannabis.” This feasibility study is in preparation for a more thorough and clinical trial. 

They are not yet recruiting subjects for their study but it’s estimated to be completed by December 2022. The results will be available here once posted. 

Disclaimer:

The studies presented do not imply that CBD can treat the condition mentioned. Moreover, the information presented here is not meant as a substitute or alternative to information from healthcare professionals. Consult your healthcare provider about CBD before use.

“These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.”

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