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With the rise in coronavirus cases each day, researchers are looking for ways to control the severity of the disease. And now, it seems researchers have found that cannabidiol or CBD can reduce the cytokine storm that damages the lungs and kills many patients with covid-19.
The study was conducted by researchers at Dental College of Georgia and Medical College of Georgia. The researchers found that CBD enables an increase in the levels of a natural peptide called apelin, which is known to reduce inflammation. Apelin levels are dramatically reduced in covid-19 patients.
The researchers conducted a laboratory model on ARDS (acute respiratory distress syndrome) which shows that CBD has the ability to improve oxygen levels and reduce inflammation as well as physical lung damage. They showed that apelin levels decrease rapidly in people who have the viral infection, which has killed 1 million people worldwide, and that CBD quickly helps normalize those levels along with lung function.
“It was dramatic in both directions,” said Dr Babak Baban, DCG immunologist and associate dean for research, of shifting apelin levels in both circulating blood and lung tissue. Blood levels of the peptide dropped close to zero in their ARDS model and increased 20 times with CBD, they reported in the Journal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine.
“CBD almost brought it back to a normal level,” Dr Jack Yu, physician-scientist and chief of pediatric plastic surgery at MCG, said of the apparent first connection between CBD and apelin.
Apelin is a pervasive peptide made by cells in the heart, lung, brain, fat tissue and blood. It is an important regulator in bringing both blood pressure and inflammation down, said Baban, the study’s corresponding author.
When our blood pressure gets high, for example, apelin levels should go up in the right place, like endothelial cells that line blood vessels, to help bring it down. Apelin should do the same to help normalize the significant increases in inflammation in the lungs and related breathing difficulties associated with ARDS.
“Ideally with ARDS it would increase in areas of the lungs where it’s needed to improve blood and oxygen flow to compensate and to protect,” Baban said. But when they looked at their ARDS model, apelin did not do either, and instead decreased in both the lung tissue and the general circulation. Until they gave CBD.
They reported this summer in the journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research that treatment with CBD reduced excessive lung inflammation, enabling improvements in lung function, healthier oxygen levels, and repair of some of the structural damage to the lungs that are classic with ARDS.
CBD, especially in oil form, can help with chronic pain—especially for arthritis, where it can also help to reduce inflammation of the joints without any major side effects.
Apart from this, CBD can also ease the symptoms of anxiety and other mental health disorders like PTSD and OCD.