She pointed out that CBD does not cause a high, as THC does, which makes the drug more useful.
The school says its researchers discovered that CBD increases the cell’s response to several key proteins produced by the coronavirus genome. It says the effect had not been discovered prior to the study.
Duncan pointed to a U.S. study to back her own, noting that it showed that epilepsy patients who used a high-dose pharmaceutical CBD had around a 10-fold lower risk of testing positive for COVID-19.
1:42 Hospitals grapple with surge in COVID-19 admissions, staffing shortages
“This could stop an infection, or slow its spread in the body or to others,” Duncan explained.
She went on to note that in cells that had not been previously exposed to the coronavirus, therapeutic amounts of CBD seemed to increase the cells’ preparedness to respond to viral infections.
The University of Waterloo says that the study, Cannabidiol and the anti-viral response to SARS-CoV-2 proteins, showed that the non-psychoactive compound, which is also found in the cannabis plant, “appears to prime the innate immune system of cells, potentially offering protection against pathogens such as SARS-CoV-2.”
“They do this by activating innate responses inside of cells, which form the first line of defence. In the case of COVID-19, however, this response isn’t very good, which has contributed to high infection rates.”
The university says that the researchers looked at how the proteins from the genome operated in human kidney cells and healthy control cells, both with and without CBD.
Macrophages also release very powerful proteins called cytokines. Cytokines are messengers that tell various infection-fighting white blood cells to rally the troops and fight the foreign pathogen.
Hinanit Koltai, one of the researchers on the Nature study team, tells Inverse the specific terpenes used on that cultivar might be to blame, but more research is necessary. She also says that CBD isolate may be more effective here than the phytocannabinoid combinations the researchers used in the study. That makes sense to Baban, who used CBD isolate in his study with great success, as did the researchers in Illinois.
How do cytokine storms work?
But there is cause for some optimism. Although clinical trials in humans need to be done before we can prescribe CBD for cytokine storms, trials of CBD as a treatment for ulcerative colitis — another inflammatory response — have had promising results. One of the benefits of CBD is that we know lab-tested, medical-grade CBD is relatively safe and has generally mild side effects compared to other pharmaceuticals, one of the reasons a CBD-based drug is approved for children with intractable epilepsy. That said, the FDA has found that many CBD products sold over the counter don’t always have the amount of CBD the bottle says it does and can contain other questionable ingredients.
Enter: The endocannabinoid system
One of the hundreds of phytocannabinoids (plant-derived cannabinoids) in the cannabis plant is CBD. CBD, like all phytocannabinoids, interacts with our endocannabinoid system. It also, Goldstein says, interacts without our immune system. While most studies have been done on mouse models, and there is more to learn, the evidence suggests that CBD is an immunomodulator.