Covid-19: What We Know About It and How CBD Could Be Aiding the Battle
Covid-19: What We Know About It & How CBD May Aid The Battle
The global pandemic that we have been living in for the past six months, was caused by Covid-19, this is a disease that was first confirmed cases in the U.S in January. Not much was known to the world at that time about how it spread or even how to treat it. Today, our knowledge on the disease has expanded immensely, yet researchers continue to make discoveries almost daily. At first, health experts believed that Covid-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, primarily affected patients’ lungs. With the current information we have, it is still primarily a lung disease.
COVID-19 affects different people in different ways. Most infected people will develop mild to moderate illness and recover without hospitalization. People with this disease don’t necessarily show all signs, sometimes none at all. The severity of COVID-19 symptoms can range from very mild to severe. Some people may experience worsened symptoms, such as worsened shortness of breath and pneumonia, about a week after symptoms start. Depending on the health of the patient, these symptoms can be more severe than what is shown on this list. Any symptoms occurring between 2-14 days after exposure should be monitored. The following are the most common and as of yet, only known symptoms relating to this virus:
- Fever or chills
- Shortness of breath or hard time breathing
- Muscle or body aches
- New loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
How Scientists Believe Covid-19 Spreads
A big discovery made recently: infected people who show few or no signs have been proven to spread the virus. Experts believe the virus spreads mainly when people are in close contact (within about six feet) through droplets that an infected person expels when talking, coughing, sneezing, singing or even breathing hard. If these droplets that are expelled get into your nose, eyes or mouth, they can easily transfer the virus to your lungs. COVID-19 seems to be spreading easily and sustainably in the community (“community spread”) in many affected geographic areas. Community spread means people have been infected with the virus in an area, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected.
Who is More Likely to Develop a Severe Case of COVID?
A recent study of more than 20,000 people hospitalized for Covid in the U.K. found that age, sex, obesity and a handful of chronic diseases posed the greatest risk. Throughout the course of this study, the median age was found to be 73, with more men than women being hospitalized. Some common conditions among the patients were obesity, heart disease, diabetes, pulmonary disease and kidney disease.
Another group emerged with an entirely different kind of risk: young children. At first experts believed that children would show mild to no symptoms. But in April, some children began getting a potentially life-threatening condition MIS-C, also known as multi-system inflammatory syndrome in children. Scientists don’t yet have enough information to understand the syndrome, but many children with it were either in contact with someone who had Covid or they had it themselves.
Preventing the Spread Of Covid
The CDC recommends that everyone over two years of age wear some kind of face covering when they are away from home, especially when they are unable to maintain 6ft in distance from others. Experts suggest a handful of other precautions like social distancing, facial coverings and basic safety precautions such as washing your hands and keeping antibacterial sanitizer nearby. Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces every day. High touch surfaces include counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets, and bedside tables. A systematic review(study of studies) found that wearing a mask cuts your risk of catching the virus by 85%, staying just 1 meter(3 feet) from others can reduce risk by 82% and covering one’s eyes with a shield or goggles by 78%.
Present Methods In Treating Covid-19
As of right now, there are 140 trials taking place as part of the FDA’s Coronavirus Treatment Association Program. Currently, there are no approved drugs, only those authorized for emergency use. CBD products have been observed as a potential solution to slow the spread of such pathogens.Remdesivir Treatment
It is an intravenous antiviral drug, emergency use authorization showed promising results in severe Covid cases. In a study which was double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial found that patients who received it recovered four days faster than those given the placebo.Convalescent plasma
This plasma is a liquid part of the blood that is collected from people who have recovered from Covid. It contains antibodies that may help others fight it. It hasn’t been fully approved by the FDA, but the agency recommended transfusing plasma under certain circumstances. In a recent study, the treatment was proven to be ineffective.Hydroxychloroquine Treatment
This is an anti-malaria drug touted by President Donald Trump. Research results have proven little benefit in taking it. In a new, randomized trial, researchers found that it didn’t help prevent the disease among those who were already exposed. In a British study into whether this treatment was effective, it was soon called off after it was clear that it didn’t work. The National Institutes of Health recently announced a new clinical trial pairing its antibiotic, azithromycin as a possible treatment for mild cases of Covid.
CBD Becoming A Possible Solution for Covid-19As COVID-19 cases continue to rise, researchers have started to look for solutions in an unlikely place - the cannabis plant. Cannabis’ active compounds have a number of properties that make it appealing as a potential adjunct treatment for infections from the novel coronavirus, and recently scientists have begun looking at its potential for reducing susceptibility to the disease, and even discussed whether it could be used as an antiviral medication.
CBD, a strain of cannabinoid in the cannabis plant, has shown to have beneficial anti-inflammatory effects in pre-clinical models of various chronic inflammatory diseases as well as being FDA approved for seizure reduction in children with epilepsy. Extreme instances of inflammation can lead to severe pneumonia which clog up the lungs, make breathing difficult or impossible. So, one of the important strategies that scientists are studying in the fight against COVID-19 is reducing inflammation. CBD isn’t the only cannabinoid that proves to show potential as an anti-inflammatory medicine. THC was also found to have powerful anti-inflammatory results. Although it had good results, it proved to be less well tolerated than CBD, with common symptoms like disorientation, anxiety, and increased heart rate. Like THC, CBD showed decreased lung inflammation in acute lung injury, potentially through the prevention of pro-inflammatory cytokine production by immune cells and suppression of immune responses.
CBD has shown promise as an alternative therapy for management of anxiety disorders. CBD also was proven to reduce pulmonary fibrosis - a condition where lung tissue becomes damaged and scarred, thickening lung tissue and making breathing more difficult. This is important, because COVID-19 can also leave patients with serious pulmonary fibrosis.Based on anxiolytic and antidepressant properties, it has been suggested that CBD could’ve been used to improve the mental and somatic health of patients suffering from the effects that occurred after recovering from Ebola disease. Similarly, those recovering from Covid may experience various psychological and social stressors that may be triggered by chronic inflammatory and autoimmune reactions.
Randomized clinical trials were conducted to test the ability of CBD in relieving anxiety and fear related to the infection of Covid-19 as well as the consequences on people’s physical, social and psychological well-being which with enough research and studies, may prove beneficial in the future. Severely ill Covid-19 patients showed neurological symptoms like cerebrovascular disease, headaches and disturbed consciousness. Researchers have been looking into which drugs can reduce IL-6 cytokine activity. Tocilizumab, a drug used in a recent study, was able to clear out patients' lungs, and resulted in recovery for 90% of the patients treated. Unfortunately, it also produced serious negative side effects like inflammation of the pancreas and hypertriglyceridemia.
Several cannabinoids in the cannabis plant were found to have anti-inflammatory properties. If CBD proves successful at reducing inflammation for Covid-19 patients, it could lead to a safer alternative to other options for treatment. CBD can reduce a number of pro-inflammatory cytokines including IL-6, the one reduced by other drugs being studied for Covid. CBD was also shown to reduce interleukin (IL)-2, IL-1α and β, interferon gamma, inducible protein-10, monocyte chemoattractant protein-1, macrophage inflammatory protein-1α, and tumor necrosis factor-α all of which are associated with the pathology of severe cases of Covid. Research on CBD shows it to be safe and well-tolerated with dosages as high as 1500mg a day, for a time length of up to two weeks.Authors of an article revolving around the benefits of CBD and the link to Covid explain that this “suggests its feasibility to reduce SARS-CoV2 which induces lung inflammation/pathology and disease severity”. While these findings do not suggest that cannabis should be the cure or a treatment for Covid on its own, studies suggest that it may have the potential to bring down inflammation and anxiety in those suffering from the disease.