Scientists find clues to how CBD helps reduce lung damage from COVID-19

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Earlier this summer a report in the journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research suggested that marijuana ingredient cannabidiol, or CBD, may help reduce cytokine storm and excessive lung inflammation linked to Covid-19 deaths. Now, the same research team has found clues to how the process works. Also Read – What precautions one should take after recovering from COVID-19?

A cytokine storm, also called hypercytokinemia, is a severe immune reaction in which the body releases too many proteins, called cytokines, into the blood too quickly. When a cytokine storm occurs, the body starts to attack its own cells and tissues rather than just fighting off the virus. This hyperimmune reaction has been linked to mortality in COVID-19 patients. In the case of COVID-19, cytokine storm usually starts in the lungs, and that’s why the lungs get affected initially in most patients. Also Read – Covid-19 pandemic can be controlled by Feb-end: Govt-appointed panel

This is how CBD combats cytokine storm

CBD helps reduce the cytokine storm by increasing the levels of apelin, a natural peptide that is known to reduce inflammation, the researchers explained in a paper published in the Journal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine. Also Read – COVID-19 Live Updates: Cases in India surge to 75,50,273 while death toll reaches 1,14,610

Apelin levels are dramatically reduced in the face of a cytokine storm induced by SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. CBD quickly helps normalize those apelin levels along with improving lung function, the study added.

They studied the effect of CBD on deadly adult respiratory distress syndrome, or ARDS model which had the blood levels of the peptide dropped close to zero. Treatment with CBD was to able to increase the peptide levels by 20 times, bringing it back to almost the normal level.

Apelin is a pervasive peptide made by cells in the heart, lung, brain, fat tissue and blood, and is an important regulator in bringing both blood pressure and inflammation down, the study authors noted.

In their earlier research, the team found that 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 associated with ARDS. Now they link these improvements with the regulation of apelin. Even though they did not attribute all CBD’s benefits to apelin, they believe that the peptide plays an important role in this scenario.

Other well-known benefits of CBD

Cannabidiol is the second most prevalent active ingredient of cannabis (marijuana). It is derived directly from the hemp plant, which is a cousin of the marijuana plant.

From treating seizures and chronic pain to improving oral health, there have been many claims about the therapeutic and anti-inflammatory benefits of CBD.

CBD is commonly used to address anxiety and insomnia, but it is found to be helpful in treating different types of chronic pain. For example, a study published in the European Journal of Pain found that the topical application of CBD helped lower pain and inflammation due to arthritis in animal models.

A study from the University of Uberaba in Brazil suggested that CBD may be helpful in treating periodontitis, also called gum disease. Another study conducted at Harvard highlighted CBD’s benefits related to inflammation. Some experts claim it may help ease anxiety during dental visits, too. There are also claims that brushing your teeth with CBD oil can help kill bad bacteria in your mouth, without affecting the good bacteria.

However, there aren’t enough human studies to support these claims.

With inputs from IANS

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