A US study has found CBD appears to reduce the ‘cytokine storm’ that damages the lungs and kills many patients with COVID-19. It does this by enabling an increase in levels of a natural peptide called apelin that reduces inflammation. 

Dental College of Georgia and Medical College of Georgia researchers found CBD improved oxygen levels and reduced inflammation, as well as reducing physical lung damage in their laboratory model of deadly adult respiratory distress syndrome, or ARDS.

They showed that apelin levels go way down with the viral infection, which has killed one million people worldwide, and that CBD quickly helps normalise those levels along with lung function.

Blood levels of the peptide dropped close to zero in their ARDS model and increased 20 times with CBD, they report in the Journal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine.

Study co-author Dr. Jack Yu, physician scientist and chief of paediatric plastic surgery at MCG, said: “CBD almost brought it [apelin] back to a 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 investigators said that more work was needed, including finding out how CBD produced the significant changes, as well as running human trials, before it should be included as part of a treatment regimen for COVID-19.

While they don’t attribute all CBD’s benefits to apelin, they say the peptide clearly has an important role in this scenario. 

They also don’t yet know whether the novel coronavirus, or CBD for that matter, have a direct effect on apelin, or if these are downstream consequences, but they are pursuing these answers.

A previous study by researchers at the University of South Carolina discovered THC could be used in the battle against COVID-19.

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