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As the COVID19 pandemic continues, many people have been asking about CBD and how it might be helpful in the fight against the coronavirus. CBD may have a role to play but it might be a surprise to you how.
The first thing to know is that if you have the coronavirus or believe you have it, do not start using CBD to fight it! There are some unscrupulous operators out there who claim that CBD can treat or cure the coronavirus. As we shall see, something like that may be true in the future but it is not true now. There is no direct treatment for COVID19, only treatments for symptoms. Those treatments should be selected by a health care professional.
If you believe you have contracted the coronavirus get a test. If you have the coronavirus contact a doctor.
When you talk to the doctor, be sure to tell her if you are currently using a CBD.
Researchers are seeking to learn whether CBD might be an effective treatment for COVID-related symptoms in the future. This article will mention some of the research and the possible mechanisms by which CBD might be a beneficial treatment, but at Elements of Green we want to emphasize that this research is in its early stages and none of it suggests a treatment at this time. If you have the coronavirus see a doctor and do not start using CBD.
After the article provides an overview of the research, we’ll get to the big surprise. CBD may be good for people who do not have the coronavirus!
One of the most provocative studies was released last month and has not yet undergone the crucial step of peer review. This method of publishing studies, called “preprints,” is an increasingly popular way for scientists to expose their findings to public scrutiny very quickly. A team of researchers at Augusta University in the US state of Georgia found that CBD, or cannabidiol, reduces the “cytokine storm” which causes death and other bad outcomes among many COVID patients.
A cytokine storm is an overproduction of cytokines in reaction to disease. Cytokines are powerful inflammatory-causing agents. As we discussed in another article, inflammation is normally a beneficial immune response by the body to fight against a threat such as a splinter, cigarette smoke, or in this case, an infection. However, sometimes the body creates too much inflammation and it can become even more harmful than the threat the immune system is trying to fight. That is the case with a cytokine storm. Doctors believe that some COVID patients experience an overload of cytokines like interleukin (IL)-6, that these cytokines cause excessive inflammation, and that in turn produces poorer outcomes among those patients than in patients who do not suffer a cytokine storm.
Understanding the cytokine storm appears to have helped doctors to reduce the mortality of COVID19. Anti-inflammatory treatments such as Tocilizumab (normally used for rheumatoid arthritis), a course of corticicosteroids, immunoglobin, and more are being used to reduce the effects of this cytokine storm, leading to fewer deaths.
The anti-inflammatory effect of CBD is well known, though not yet well understood. The Austin University study was intended to learn whether CBD might be useful in reducing the inflammation from a cytokine storm. The researchers gave mice a special treatment which induced a cytokine storm and then gave them CBD.
The study found that CBD reduced or eliminated the cytokine storm in all of the test subjects. The mice also saw an increase in lymphocyte, another infection-fighting agent.
To reiterate, this was a study done on animal subjects, not humans. It has not yet undergone peer review. It is not a treatment recommendation. If it ever becomes a treatment recommendation, the CBD will be administered by doctors in a hospital setting. Certainly, buying CBD meant for ordinary consumers will never be a treatment for a cytokine storm, whether it is because of COVID or another reason. It does point to the possibility that CBD may be an important clinical tool in the future because of its anti-inflammatory effects.
Because of that anti-inflammatory effect, it’s not surprising that the Austin University group is not the only institution looking to CBD as a possible treatment of the cytokine storm. In fact, a study in 2014, before COVID existed in humans, found that CBD was effective in reducing the effects of the cytokine storm.
An Israeli pharmaceutical company is looking at “wrapping” CBD in exosomes, which are inter-cellular particles which carry DNA and other information from cell to cell. The researchers hope to use the exosomes to target specific cell types, allowing more of any CBD administered to get exactly where it is needed. This is also a very early-stage study.
A July 2020 article in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity by scientists from the Texas Biomedical Research Institute and the University of Nebraska Medical Center reviewed some of the earlier research involving CBD and inflammation and called for more inquiry into whether cannabidiol might be a useful treatment for COVID, again focusing on the cytokine storm but also recommending other potential uses.
While people await more information from those studies and other being done, it is worth learning about those other potential uses. The scientists behind that article, which was partially funded by the US National Institute for Health, recommends that there be studies on the use of CBD not for its anti-inflammatory properties but its ability to reduce anxiety. An earlier article in a different journal suggested a trial of CBD as a means of reducing anxiety among survivors of Ebola and the researchers suggest a clinical trial to learn whether CBD might help similar anxiety among COVID survivors. They also suggested that CBD be tried to fight the neurological effects of the disease, a newly-discovered effect of COVID.
Some other promising research focuses on people who do not have COVID at all. The researchers who wrote the article for Brain, Behavior, and Immunity are Dr. Siddappa N. Byrareddy and Dr. Mahesh Mohan, note that along with the disease itself, COVID has brought about economic uncertainty, unemployment, and loss of connections. These are all causes of depression and anxiety. They note that since CBD has anti-depressant properties it should be studied clinically to improve the mental health of people who have anxiety because of COVID.
Researchers are already doing exactly what Drs. Byrareddy and Mohan suggested. In Brazil, a team of scientists is testing CBD among front-line medical workers to learn whether there is a clinical effect on the burnout, stress, and overload that those crucial workers experience because of their jobs. Other studies about anxiety are not specific to COVID but to more general anxiety or anxiety from another source. You can read more about some of those studies in our article about Frontiers in CBD Research.
Here at Elements of Green, we find that many of our customers take CBD for depression or anxiety. If you have depression or anxiety badly enough that you should seek a doctor or therapist’s care, you should only begin using CBD if the doctor or therapist recommends it. For other people, some CBD daily by way of a tincture, capsule, edible, or even a vape product may be helpful.
A recent article from the consulting firm McKinsey & Company tells the story of anxiety in the age of COVID. McKinsey shared that average life satisfaction in the 37 European Union countries and in the UK fell in April to its lowest level in 40 years. Reports of depression and loneliness double, tripled, or even quintupled, McKinsey found.
CBD is believed to help anxiety by its regulation of the endocannabinoid system. The CBD binds to receptors in nerve cells, including in the brain, and inhibits the production of undesirable neurotransmitters. As an aside, one of the receptors responsible for the lower undesirable neurotransmitter production also is responsible for your sensation of hot spices such as chili peppers!
A 2015 study by researchers at New York University found that “existing preclinical evidence strongly supports CBD as a treatment for generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder when administered acutely.” Long term use had not been as well studied.
CBD users frequently report results similar to those reviewed by the New York University study. Relief from anxiety and depression is one of the most commonly cited reasons people start using CBD.
Sleep is another reason some people choose CBD. Ironically, some people use CBD for energy and others use it to help them fall asleep. Both kinds of CBD users may be right. Researchers are still working out how CBD affects sleep but it may be helpful in regulating the wake-sleep cycle, in which case someone using CBD to avoid sleep and someone using it to help fall asleep my both benefit from regulation of the sleep cycle. The anxiety and pain-relieving characteristics of CBD may also help with both energy and with sleep.
Dr. Michael Breus, PHD, is known as The Sleep Doctor. He wrote an article about sleep and CBD and maintains that CBD may be a healthier and safer alternative to prescription sleep medication. He even sells a sleep booster which contains CBD and ingredients known to help sleep such as GABA and Valerian Root.
The help may be for more than anxiety, too. You may have heard about “maskne,” the blemishes some people get from prolonged wearing of masks. One of CBD’s effects is to reduce the production of sebum. Sebum is an oily substance associated with many skin conditions. Many users find that either ingested CBD or a topical CBD product such as a lotion can help their skin and research backs that up.
Some people may find a benefit in taking two CBD products. One ingested as a tincture, oil, capsule, or edible or by vaping and another as a lotion. Just be sure that the combined dose of the two products does not exceed the UK Food Standards Agency recommendation of 70 mg of CBD per day for a health adult. If you want to take more CBD than that you should see your doctor first.
If you do choose CBD as part of a fight against anxiety, depression, or just blemishes from wearing a mask, you may find other benefits. CBD is known to be a pain reliever because of its anti-inflammatory properties. Early research suggests that CBD may also affect how people perceive pain. Ingested or vaped CBD is intended for pain in the full body, whereas topical CBD may help with pain in the area of application. So if you choose a topical CBD product to help with mask blemishes, you might also consider using some of the lotion on a painful joint.
Some studies suggest that CBD may be helpful for heart health. Specifically, CBD may help to lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of stroke. It is far too early to suggest using CBD for the primary purpose of a healthier heart but if the studies bear out you may receive that benefit while using CBD for other reasons.
If you choose CBD for anxiety, or any other reason, you should also avoid anxiety when you purchase your product, you should make sure that you are getting the product you are paying for, and the process of purchasing CBD is a pleasant one. At Elements of Green, all of the brands we share with you are lab tested to ensure that they have the CBD they claim. Many of the products available on Elements of Green are organic for those of you who prefer their products to be so. We pride ourselves on good customer service and of course, CBD purchased through Elements of Green involves contact-free delivery. You can be confident that your CBD purchase through Elements of Green will get you a product you can trust and a pleasant buying experience.