Amidst worsening cases of COVID-19 and Omicron variant, we are all putting our best efforts into protecting ourselves and others to limit the spread of the virus.
A breakthrough study performed by the prestigious University of Waterloo discovered that CBD has the potential to equip the body with better defense mechanisms against COVID-19.
The innate response our cells initiate in response to viral entry is viral destruction, followed by apoptosis – programmed cell death aimed to cease the spread and amplification of viral proteins in the body. This defense mechanism is our first line of defense and works even prior to stimulation of our adaptive immune system. However, this process seems to be poorly activated in the presence of COVID-19, thus increasing transmission to other individuals and symptomatic infection.
This novel study led by Professor Robin Duncan demonstrates that intake of therapeutic doses of CBD enhances the sensitivity of the cells’ response against COVID-19, which precedes activation of the adaptive immune system. Specifically, CBD was shown to significantly increase cell-induced apoptosis in the presence of 3 specific viral proteins found in the COVID-19 virus: ORF8, ORF10, and M protein. Augmented expression of anti-viral genes was observed in cells exposed to these viral proteins, as well as healthy cells not exposed to the virus. Suggesting that CBD has the potential to prepare cells against COVID-19 even before exposure to the virus, without the apoptosis mechanism in non-infected cells. The same effect was not seen in cells not treated with CBD (Fernandes, 2022).
To support these findings, Nguyen et al. observed patients of a past study who were prescribed high doses of CBD to treat rare types of epilepsy. By monitoring these individuals, they found that patients taking CBD had their chances of testing positive for COVID-19 lowered by 10-fold, and those intaking any kind of cannabinoid lowered by over 40%. Even after comparison to other confounding variables such as similar demographics, health conditions, and medications, these numbers still held true. Their study found that CBD helped inhibit viral gene expression – stopping the replication of COVID-19 in the body and even had the ability to reverse any effects the virus had on human DNA transcription. Intake of CBD was able to initiate this augmented response by upregulating the antiviral pathway and inducing expression of interferons: proteins that detect and fight cancer cells, as well as foreign bacteria/viruses.
These two studies demonstrate the anti-viral properties that are possible with the intake of therapeutic doses of cannabinoids. CBD is far from being an antidote, and by no means should replace existing safety measures against COVID-19, such as hand washing and wearing face masks. However, rising numbers of promising studies surrounding CBD give us optimism and hope for the future of this holistic compound. The most recent study by Prof. Duncan is still in the process of being peer-reviewed and published, and should still be read with caution. Nevertheless, its findings are a huge stepping stone towards spreading awareness of the versatile and diverse uses of CBD!
Works Cited –
Fernandes MF, Chan JZ, Hung CCJ, Tomczewski MV, Duncan RE. January 12, 2022. Effect of cannabidiol on apoptosis and cellular interferon and interferon-stimulated gene responses to the SARS-CoV-2 genes ORF8, ORF10 and M protein. Uploaded on bioRxiv. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1101/2022.01.11.475901
Nguyen LC, Yang D, Nicolaescu V, Best TJ, Ohtsuki T, Chen SN, Friesen JB, Drayman N, Mohamed A, Dann C, Silva D, Gula H, Jones KA, Millis JM, Dickinson BC, Tay S, Oakes SA, Pauli GF, Meltzer DO, Randall G, Rosner MR. March 10, 2021. Cannabidiol Inhibits SARS-CoV-2 Replication and Promotes the Host Innate Immune Response. Uploaded on bioRxiv. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1101/2021.03.10.432967