Is CBD an Anti-Viral for Coronavirus?

The outbreak of the new coronavirus, known as COVID-19, has been raising many questions regarding cannabidiol (CBD), and whether or not it can fight the virus or prevent us from getting infected. When we are united by the common desire to fight a deadly infection that has been taking the lives of thousands around us, we think it’s essential to answer questions about the anti-viral properties of CBD products for defeating the new illness.

Can CBD Cure COVID-19?

If you are here to read about magical products that can prevent you from getting sick with COVID-19 or help you treat it, we must disappoint you: There is no evidence, research, or study that shows CBD can cure COVID-19. 

Let’s go ahead and repeat that: There is no evidence, research, or study that shows CBD can cure COVID-19. 

If you are reading this article because you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, call your healthcare provider and read the steps from CDC on what to do if you are sick.

Claims Across the Internet

Despite the lack of evidence, there are many claims across the internet regarding the effect CBD can have on the new disease. In March 2020, Canadian musician Bif Naked had been touring the country promoting her new album and her unlicensed CBD company. She made claims that the CBD product by her company can help against COVID-19. The Canadian singer thinks cannabidiol has the power to improve our health and make us less vulnerable to the virus, and Naked is not the only one who believes so.

On March 29, 2020, the former NFL player, Kyle Turley, co-owner of Moreno Valley Dispensary, also announced on his twitter that cannabis would prevent and cure COVID-19.

Image of a tweet by Kyle Turley stating CANNABIS WILL PREVENT & CURE COVID19!!!!!!.....commence the hate

As much as we would love to say both Bif Naked and Kyle Turley are right and there is a cure for COVID-19, no studies show any correlation between CBD products and improved conditions for infected patients. There have been no attempts to treat patients with cannabidiol, and it’s difficult to talk about the possible effect it can have on curing or preventing the new virus. 

However, many users on the internet claim that CBD products are boosting their immune system, improving overall health, and it’s their must-have product to remain healthy. If you search for cannabidiol, you’ll come across many “cure-all” claims and miraculous stories. 

From what we know, CBD may have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic properties, which might help fight chronic pain, anxiety, or even viral infections. People have been using CBD for treating a variety of medical conditions such as pain, nausea, and vomiting caused by chemotherapy.

Anti-Viral Properties of CBD

Although there is no proof cannabidiol can affect the new coronavirus, there have been previous studies regarding its anti-inflammatory properties.

Cannabinoid receptor 2 (CB2) that is in CBD oil plays a role in regulating inflammatory immune responses. Besides, cannabidiol has different indirect anti-inflammatory effects on the central nervous system. For instance, immune cells release protein known as cytokines when the body experiences stress or trauma. Cytokines are responsible for the initiation and continuation of inflammation in the body. Research shows that cannabidiol may disrupt the release of these proteins so effectively that we can prevent inflammation with CBD oil before it starts. Reducing inflammation plays a vital role in the health of COVID-19 patients. The new virus, in many cases, leads to pneumonia – an infection in the lungs that causes inflammation of the air sacs within the organs.

A company in Israel – InnoCan, along with a branch of Tel Aviv University – Ramot, is testing cannabinoids in treating the lungs of critical COVID-19 patients, according to CBD Guru.

Their primary goal is to learn if exosomes carrying CBD, delivered via inhaled technologies, can be useful in treating the lungs of critical COVID-19 patients.”

However, for now, no research shows CBD can reduce the inflammation of the air sacs in COVID-19 patients.

CBD and its Possible Health Benefits

Image of a doctor holding forward a bottle of generically labeled CBD oil

CBD is one of the primary cannabinoids in the cannabis plant that doesn’t cause psychotropic effects and doesn’t have addictive potential. It’s believed that CBD can help our health and improve it in different ways. There is a wide variety of CBD products such as vaporizers, edibles, topicals, oil concentrates, capsules, isolate, skin, hair, and even pet products. According to statistics, one in seven Americans say they use cannabidiol (CBD) based products, and 40% of them use it for pain, anxiety, and sleep.

Using cannabis for health benefits isn’t something new, and it has a long history as a medical plant. 

“It was available as a licensed medicine in the United States for about a century before the American Medical Association removed it from the 12th edition of the U.S. Pharmacopeia”

Therapeutic Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids

About 20 years ago, the interest in cannabis products to treat certain illnesses revived in the medical world. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a CBD-only drug, Epidiolex, to treat seizures in children with intractable forms of epilepsy. Fragmentary evidence points to the possible use of CBD in viral infections. 

CBD is known for its antiviral, anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties. Studies also suggest the cannabinoid could be of use in treating viral hepatitis C and Kaposi’s sarcoma. In some cases, cannabis products can help against certain types of viruses. But no such studies have been performed on humans, and no evidence shows CBD can have any effect on COVID-19.

“Cannabinoids may relieve pain and may induce hyperphagia, which could be beneficial in cancer. However, these physiological characteristics are not relevant to most viral, bacterial fungal or parasitic infections, where the regulation of inflammation is central to controlling pathogen replication and immunopathology.”

Cannabinoids and Viral Infections by Carol Shoshkes Reiss

Indirect Possible Benefits of CBD Products in Fighting COVID-19

For millions of people, the new year came with many surprises and changes. Changes in lives increase the risk of anxiety and depression, especially during such a stressful event like the pandemic. Besides other health benefits, CBD may also reduce stress and anxiety. Mental health concerns are inevitable during the outbreak. So, although CBD may not directly prevent getting infected, it can reduce stress, which weakens the immune system and leaves a person more vulnerable to viruses.  

Increased levels of anxiety lead to other problems such as insomnia. According to statistics, nearly 70 million Americans have a sleep disorder, and insomnia is the most common issue with 30% of adults experiencing short-term insomnia. Those with mental health disorders are in the risk group of developing a sleeping disorder. So, if the pandemic is going to be a reason for anxiety and depression, it also leads to sleep issues. And lack of sleep can negatively affect our immune system. According to the Mayo Clinic, it can also affect the speed of recovery if you get sick.

“During sleep, your immune system releases proteins called cytokines, some of which help promote sleep. Certain cytokines need to increase when you have an infection or inflammation, or when you’re under stress. Sleep deprivation may decrease the production of these protective cytokines.”

If CBD products can help reduce stress and anxiety, it means it can also help to prevent insomnia, which itself could negatively affect our immune system. Additionally, studies suggest that CBD may help with falling and staying asleep. 

“Lack of sleep also puts you at risk of being more susceptible to catching viral diseases, and not having the healthy immunity you need to fight them off.”

Mr. Parvinder Sagoo, pharmacist and medical advisor at SimplyMeds, in the article by METRO

Can CBD Help Prevent Us from Getting Infected with COVID-19?

image of a hand in medical latex glove holding a vial of blood labeld Covid-19 sample

Currently, there is no vaccine available for COVID-19, and medical teams across the globe are trying to find a way to prevent people from getting infected. At this point, there is not enough research to suggest CBD products can help prevent getting infected.

“There is currently absolutely no evidence that CBD can play any role in altering the course of coronavirus (COVID-19) disease and I would strongly urge the CBD industry to stay far away from making any suggestion, however subtle, that it does,”

Dr. Andy Yates, science lead at the Association for the Cannabinoid Industry, told Food Navigator

CBD and Immune System

Although there is not enough research regarding CBD products preventing us from getting infected, many have been pointing at its benefits in boosting the immune system, which is how we defend ourselves against infections and stay healthy. When we get infected with viruses, our immune system fights back by producing proteins called antibodies. 

THC-Free CBD Oil Helps Boost Immune Systems and Reduces inflammation, according to CBS19 News.

Studies have shown that CBD may help boost our immunity and help protect the immune system through its anti-anxiety and anti-inflammatory properties. However, we cannot claim CBD can prevent us from getting COVID-19. Boosting our immune system doesn’t guarantee we won’t get infected. CBD may make our immune system stronger, but so does a healthy diet, exercise, and getting enough sleep, etc.

The best way, so far, to reduce the risk of getting ill with the virus is by following the guidelines from the CDC and the World Health Organization on proper hygiene and social distancing. There is no proof that any supplement, diet, or lifestyle modification – aside from social distancing, and practicing proper hygiene – can protect us from developing the new virus.

Although there may be many health benefits from using CBD products, there is no indication or proof we can cure and prevent the virus by using these. The strongest weapon against the virus would be a vaccine, which may take as long as 12-18 months to develop.

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