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What science says about CBD as an antiviral agent and how prohibition makes a bad situation worse

CBD acts as a potent anti-inflammatory, reducing cytokine production and inhibiting immune cell function.

With the worldwide number of deaths from corona virus increasing exponentially, The Lancet a called attention to the "accumulating evidence" that indicates that "patients with severe COVID-19 may have cytokine storm syndrome." Characterized by an intense immune overreaction in the lungs, this little-understood syndrome can infect and kill those infected. Respiratory distress is the leading cause of death in COVID -19 cases. Critically ill people who survive intensive care may suffer long-term lung damage, resulting in impaired function and reduced quality of life.

Science Daily  reports that a hyper-inflammatory cytokine storm, involving a wave of deranged immune cells, was likely the leading cause of death in several viral epidemics, including the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918-20 (which killed more than 50 million people) and, more recently, the H1N1 swine flu and the so-called bird flu.

In cases of acute lung distress of viral origin, therapy targeting cytokine storms would seem logical. But corticosteroid treatment is not a great option because it can worsen the lung damage associated with COVID -19. "However", as le highlights The Lancet , “In hyperinflammation, immunosuppression is likely to be beneficial. "

CAN CANNABIS CALM A CYTOKINE STORM?

Several laboratory studies indicate that cannabinoid compounds - particularly cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) - are immunosuppressive. This would explain why medical cannabis is beneficial for people with autoimmune diseases and chronic inflammation.

Which begs the question: could cannabis calm a cytokine storm? 

The short answer is we don't know. There is a lot we still don't understand about cannabis and the immune system.

For many years, scientific research in the United States has been handcuffed by the cannabis ban, and the federal government continues to thwart research that may inform the therapeutic use of cannabis and high-CBD oil extracts from plants. whole. The federal stranglehold on cannabis research is the main reason we know so little about the clinical potential of CBD as an antiviral remedy.

The cannabis ban is also worsening the current crisis in other ways as well, as we'll see later in this article. For now, let's return our attention to cytokines and cannabinoids. 

WHAT ARE CYTOKINES?

Secreted by immune cells, cytokines are a group of proteins that regulate inflammatory responses to disease and infection. There are both pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokines.

Overproduction or excessive secretion of pro-inflammatory messenger molecules can trigger a dangerous cytokine storm and other aberrant conditions. A cytokine known as tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF a), for example, is excessively produced in rheumatoid arthritis, a painful autoimmune disease that affects 1,3 million Americans.

The interaction between cytokines, immune cells and the endogenous cannabinoid system plays an important role in neuroinflammation and neurodegeneration.

He's good demonstrated that stimulation of the cannabinoid receptor CB2 by THC and its endogenous counterparts can suppress inflammation. Cannabinoid receptor signaling confers therapeutic effects by downregulating the expression of inflammatory cytokines.

Although cannabidiol has little direct binding affinity for the CB2 receptor, CBD also acts as a potent anti-inflammatory, reducing cytokine production  and inhibiting immune cell function .

CBD FOR VIRAL INFECTIONS?

Could CBD be a viable candidate for reducing mortality in critically ill patients infected with COVID -19? A dozen websites are already claiming that CBD has antiviral applications, as if it is an established medical fact.

In fact, so far there is only "fragmentary evidence" that points to "a possible use of CBD in viral infections," according to a team of British and Italian scientists who recently addressed this problem in the online journal  Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research . The authors referenced to one survey vitro , who suggested that CBD had a direct antiviral effect against the hepatitis C virus. But other than a single preclinical study involving hepatitis C, there is little scientific evidence supporting the alleged antiviral properties of CBD.

The authors cited another survey which found that CBD reduced neuroinflammation in an animal model of virus-induced multiple sclerosis. But they recognize that it might have more to do with CBD's effectiveness as an anti-inflammatory compound rather than direct antiviral activity. Likewise, anecdotal accounts of the use of cannabidiol to treat viral infections, such as shingles and herpes, “are plausible based on the anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties of CBD,” the scientists acknowledged, without assert intrinsic antiviral effect.

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CBD is currently in clinical trials in Israel as a treatment for graft-versus-host disease (GVHD), a potentially fatal disease (with a death rate of over 80%) caused by immune rejection. systemic organ or bone marrow transplant. So far, the results are encouraging. Deaths from GHVD and COVID -19 both involve extreme immune reactions, but there is one crucial difference: GVHD is not triggered by a virus. And CBD has never been tested as a cure for a viral cytokine storm.

CONTRADICTORY DATA

Many therapeutic applications of CBD and THC are linked to their anti-inflammatory prowess. But that's not the whole story. The interaction between cannabinoids and the immune system is complex, adaptive and two-way.

In some situations, cannabinoids can potentiate immune activity. A study carried out in 2014 by scientists at Louisiana State University demonstrated that regular cannabis use can increase the number of white blood cells in immunodeficiency disorders such as HIV, suggesting a pro-inflammatory and immune-boosting effect. This is the exact opposite of what is needed to mitigate a viral cytokine storm.

Given the conflicting data on the impact of cannabinioids on immune function, medical scientists are reassessing their ideas on inflammation and immunosuppression. As Mary Biles reported for the CBD Project: “A new wave of research and growing anecdotal evidence indicates that cannabinoids have an adaptive and immunomodulatory effect, rather than simply suppressing immune activity. "

The ability of cannabinoids to both suppress and enhance immune function lends credence to the notion that the endocannabinoid system is involved in two-way immunomodulation, keeping inflammation under control under healthy conditions but allowing an inflammatory response. when needed to fight infection.

CBD FOR VIRAL INFECTIONS?

Could CBD be a viable candidate for reducing mortality in critically ill patients infected with COVID -19? A dozen websites are already claiming that CBD has antiviral applications, as if it is an established medical fact.

In fact, so far there is only "fragmentary evidence" that points to "a possible use of CBD in viral infections," according to a team of British and Italian scientists who recently addressed this problem in the online journal  Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research . The authors referenced to one survey vitro , who suggested that CBD had a direct antiviral effect against the hepatitis C virus. But other than a single preclinical study involving hepatitis C, there is little scientific evidence supporting the alleged antiviral properties of CBD.

The authors cited another survey which found that CBD reduced neuroinflammation in an animal model of virus-induced multiple sclerosis. But they recognize that it might have more to do with CBD's effectiveness as an anti-inflammatory compound rather than direct antiviral activity. Likewise, anecdotal accounts of the use of cannabidiol to treat viral infections, such as shingles and herpes, “are plausible based on the anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties of CBD,” the scientists acknowledged, without assert intrinsic antiviral effect.

CBD is currently the subject of clinical trials  in Israel as a treatment for graft-versus-host disease (GVHD), a potentially fatal disease (with a death rate of over 80%) caused by systemic immune rejection from an organ or marrow transplant bone. So far, the results are encouraging. Deaths from GHVD and COVID -19 both involve extreme immune reactions, but there is one crucial difference: GVHD is not triggered by a virus. And CBD has never been tested as a cure for a viral cytokine storm.

CONTRADICTORY DATA

Many therapeutic applications of CBD and THC are linked to their anti-inflammatory prowess. But that's not the whole story. The interaction between cannabinoids and the immune system is complex, adaptive and two-way.

In some situations, cannabinoids can potentiate immune activity. A study carried out in 2014 by scientists at Louisiana State University demonstrated that regular cannabis use can increase the number of white blood cells in immunodeficiency disorders such as HIV, suggesting a pro-inflammatory and immune-boosting effect. This is the exact opposite of what is needed to mitigate a viral cytokine storm.

Given the conflicting data on the impact of cannabinioids on immune function, medical scientists are re-evaluating their ideas on inflammation and immunosuppression. The ability of cannabinoids to both suppress and enhance immune function lends credence to the notion that the endocannabinoid system is involved in two-way immunomodulation, keeping inflammation under control under healthy conditions but allowing an inflammatory response. when needed to fight infection.

Dr Garcia de Palau, a Spanish cannabis clinician, sums it up: “I believe [cannabis] is immunosuppressive when there is a hyper-immune response, but otherwise it regulates and corrects the immune system. In fact, you could say that it works like the endocannabinoid system, bringing balance to the body. "

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A CALL FOR SOLIDARITY

What does this mean, in practice, for those who use (or who might consider consuming) CBD or cannabis during the COVID -19 pandemic? Will consuming small amounts of CBD or cannabis as a preventive measure help strengthen our immune resistance, or could it make us more susceptible to the corona virus? If one is infected, would CBD increase or decrease the risk of severe disease progression? Would CBD have an impact?

The International Association for Cannabinoid Medicine (IACM), based in Germany, published an déclaration on the COVID -19 pandemic and the use of cannabinoids, noting that some laboratory studies suggest that cannabinoids may have antiviral effects. "However," according to the IACM, "there is no evidence that individual cannabinoids - such as CBD, CBG or THC - or cannabis preparations protect against infection ... or could be used to treat COVID -19, the disease produced by this virus. " 

But the IACM also points out "that there is no evidence that the use of cannabinoids could increase the risk of viral infection".

Covid-19 powers prisons

Prisons around the world are on the verge of becoming hotbeds for COVID-19. Overcrowding, poor nutrition, toxic stress and an aging prison population put those in prison at exceptionally high risk. Further, as noted in with the BBC : "Handcuffed people cannot cover their mouths when they cough or sneeze, sinks [in prisons and prisons] often run out of soap, and hand sanitizer is considered contraband because of its content. in alcohol. "

According to the newspaper The cross the consequences of confinement, the deprivation of activities, training and human contact creates tensions, concerns and rumors in the prison world. Fearing an express spread of the virus in this closed environment, the monitors obtained, Saturday, March 28, the assurance of being provided with masks.

All activities or training are also prohibited in order to avoid regrouping. In other words, inmates spend an average of 22 hours 30 minutes a day in their 9 square meter cell, two or more.

The war on drugs is a major cause of prison overcrowding, which has been condemned by international human rights organizations. A rapport report from the Brennan Center for Justice found that nearly 2016% of imprisoned Americans are behind bars for no compelling public safety reason.

"Prison health is by definition public health," says The Lancet . "With approximately 30 million people released each year around the world, prisons are a vector of community transmission that will have a disproportionate impact on marginalized communities."

Supporters of criminal justice reform argue that reducing the prison population should be an immediate priority if we are to slow the spread of a highly infectious disease which, unlike inmates themselves, cannot be contained in prison cells. prison walls.

Strong demand

according to a Press release, sales and demand for cannabis have almost doubled in several European countries, Canada and the United States. Based on the demand for cannabis at the same time last year, data shows that in the United States alone, between March 4 and March 22, cannabis sales increased by about 5% in a single jump.

Cannabis prices go up

One of the predictable consequences of the state of alarm for illegal substances is that they move poorly and poorly. At least that's what seems to be happening. If you have to justify your movements and the police of those roaming the streets, logic tells us that the usual weed supply is going to be more difficult. That is why, according to some media , cannabis prices are rising or even tripling in places like the capital of Spain.

Ultimately, cannabis smokers also suffer from confinement

Addiction, supply difficulties, risk of shortage, price hikes… Confinement also has an impact on cannabis smokers. The shortage. Containment ”. According to huffingtonpost, some consider consuming more alcohol to overcome the lack. Does cannabis will be replaced by alcohol …? around 70% of the cannabis resin sold in France comes from Morocco via Spain and the Pyrenees. Another part is shipped via Belgium and Holland. Some police sources have expressed concern. Already extended for 15 days, confinement could rekindle tensions in sensitive areas and prisons if it were to be extended further.   

The whole world is currently going through an exceptional period due to the health crisis resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. In this particular period of confinement, let's show solidarity with our neighbors! The notion of "troubleshooting" is only known to consumers, it's time to "help out" your friends.

Tags : coronavirus / COVID-19Prohibition
Weed-master

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Weed media broadcaster and communications manager specializing in legal cannabis. Do you know what they say? knowledge is power. Understand the science behind cannabis medicine, while staying up to date with the latest health related research, treatments and products. Stay up to date with the latest news and ideas on legalization, laws, political movements. Discover tips, tricks and how-to guides from the most seasoned growers on the planet as well as the latest research and findings from the scientific community on the medical qualities of cannabis.