Your body’s immune system is the most effective weapon against COVID-19. Most people will cure themselves of the disease by the army of their own white blood cells attacking the coronavirus. These immune cells prevent the virus from replicating, and help your body to develop antibodies for immunity.
But the army of the immune system can also do collateral tissue damage through the production of toxic molecules. Anyone who has had the flu is familiar with the aches, fever and inflammation that come along with it. They are actually symptoms of the immune system’s attacking the virus, called a cytokine storm, not of the influenza virus itself
Cytokine molecules are a group of proteins secreted by immune cells that act as chemical messengers in an effort to fight an infection. A cytokine storm occurs when the immune system “gets stuck” and keep sending the alarm long after it’s needed. Think about it like a smoke alarm that never goes off, and you keep calling the firefighters over and over again.
There is accumulating evidence that patients with severe COVID-19 might have cytokine storm syndrome, characterized by intense overreaction in the lungs. The critically ill who survive intensive care may suffer from lung damage, resulting in functional impairment and reduced quality of life.
Science Daily reports that a cytokine storm, was likely the primary cause of death in several viral outbreaks, including the 1918-20 Spanish flu pandemic (which killed more than 50 million people) and, more recently, the swine flu (H1N1) and the bird flu (H5N1)
Can CBD prevent a cytokine storm?
Several laboratory studies indicate that cannabinoids, in particular, CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), can act as an immunosuppressant by down-regulating inflammatory cytokine expression. This also explains why medical cannabis is beneficial for people with autoimmune diseases and chronic systemic inflammation.
Science tells us that the interaction between cytokines, immune cells, and the endogenous cannabinoid system plays an important role in the inflammatory response. There are both pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokines and research points towards cannabinoids having an adaptive, immunomodulating effect. The ability of cannabinoids to both suppress and enhance immune response leads us to believe that the Endocannabinoid System is involved in bidirectional immunomodulation, keeping inflammation in check under healthy conditions but enabling an appropriate inflammatory response in case of an infection.
Using the same reasoning it seems plausible that CBD could help counteract a cytokine storm in COVID-19 caused by the Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.
Dr. Mariano Garcia de Palau, a Spanish cannabis clinician and member of the Spanish Medical Cannabis Observatory, says the following: “I believe CBD is immunosuppressive when there is hyper-immune response, but otherwise regulates and corrects the immune system, bringing equilibrium to the organism”
Summary: CBD shows the ability to act as a potent anti-inflammatory, reducing cytokine production and modulating immune cell response when needed.
More studies are needed to see how CBD can affect the coronavirus. Although, when that will happen nobody knows. For many years scientific CBD studies have been blocked by cannabis prohibition, and the government continues to oppose research that could shed light on the therapeutic use of CBD.
Written by Aleksander G Bjargo D.C. April 17th 2020.