Could CBD Help Fight Severe Cases Of COVID-19?

Scientists are researching whether CBD could help treat the inflammation that comes along with some coronavirus infections.

Could CBD Help Fight Severe Cases Of COVID-19?
John Cairns, University of Oxford via AP

Scientists are investigating whether CBD, a chemical compound from cannabis plants, could fight inflammation in severe COVID-19 patients. 

The cytokine storm is when the body’s immune system attacks itself, and it’s been linked to the deadliest COVID-19 cases.

"People who are also in cannabis field are also trying to find the right strains for COVID," said Dr. Olga Kovalchuk, a cannabis researcher at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada. 

Kovalchuk’s part of a team who believe they have ID’d some cannabis strains, high in CBD, that could help treat the inflammation that comes along with the cytokine storm of some coronavirus infections. She says not every high-CBD strain was effective, though. 

"Terpenes are important, as well other minor cannabinoids — also important," she told Newsy.

Another study from researchers in Georgia found CBD reduced inflammation and protected lung tissues in COVID-19 patients. So far, all of that CBD-related COVID research has been done in models, animals or replicated human tissue. 

To be clear, scientists Newsy spoke with say this doesn’t mean you should start planning a trip to the dispensary. More research is needed, including clinical trials in humans, like ones that combine CBD with antiviral treatments like remdesivir. 

"Any antiviral therapy probably does like 90% of the job, 80% of the job, even 70% of the job. They're not doing 100%. And what we're proposing maybe CBD can do, what is left over with that," said Dr. Siddappa Byrareddy, a researcher and pharmacology and experimental neuroscience professor at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

Bryareddy says getting funding is among the challenges holding back cannabis research. Some labs are raising their own money.

The FDA just released guidance this week outlining how companies seeking approval of drugs that contain cannabis or its derivatives must follow the traditional drug review and approval process involving clinical trials. The agency is still working on CBD-specific rules.