Augusta, GA—Adding to the call for more research into the potential benefits of cannabidiol (CBD) in the treatment of COVID-19, researchers at Augusta University Medical College of Georgia (MCG) and Dental College of Georgia (DCG) are reporting that CBD may help reduce the cytokine storm and excessive lung inflammation that is killing many patients with COVID-19.
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The preliminary study, which was supported in part by the National Institutes of Health, suggests that CBD could help patients showing signs of respiratory distress avoid extreme interventions like mechanical ventilation as well as death from acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), according to a news release from Augusta University.
“ARDS is a major killer in severe cases of some respiratory viral infections, including severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and we have an urgent need for better intervention and treatment strategies,” Dr. Babak Baban, immunologist and interim associate dean for research at DCG and corresponding author of the study, said in the release.
The researchers looked at objective measures of lung function in mice, according to the release, including levels of proinflammatory cytokines, oxygen levels in the blood before and after treatment, and temperature (an indicator of inflammation). Co-author Dr. Jack Yu, physician-scientist and chief of pediatric plastic surgery at MCG, said the research team’s lab studies indicate that pure CBD can help the lungs recover from the cytokine storm caused by the virus, and restore healthier oxygen levels in the body.
The release points to a major concern with SARS-CoV-2: “the over-the-top immune response can quickly disable the lungs, transforming them to a place where virus is replicated, rather than a place that makes oxygen available for our bodies and eliminates potentially harmful gases like carbon dioxide.” Ventilators are used in cases of critically ill patients, but, as the release notes, evidence suggests 30-50% of patients placed on mechanical ventilation don’t survive. Early evidence from this research, however, suggests that clinical symptoms and physical lung changes resulting from ARDS were reversed following treatment with CBD.
The researchers note that more research, including clinical trials to determine optimal dosage and timing, is needed. Read more on the research here.