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CBD appears to not only reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection by an order of magnitude, but it also appears to completely eradicate viral RNA expression in host cells, and reverses the viral induction of cytokines which can lead to the deadly cytokine storm.

The Old and the New

CBD is one of the more interesting compounds of the last few years. It’s both new and old, in a sense. New, because the 2018 Farm Bill essentially re-legalized CBD after being either tightly regulated or outright illegal in the USA for nearly a hundred years, and old because humanity has been cultivating the plant which creates it for as long as there has been written history. There are records from at least 5,000 years ago that show hemp cultivation, as well as ash samples from 400 years ago that show direct evidence of its use.

However, we can’t really rely on simple tradition and historical evidence regarding how useful CBD may or may not be. There are a lot of traditional medicines that are either not particularly effective, or which have been surpassed by their modern counterparts, while the overwhelming majority of traditional medicines have simply not been tested in a clinical setting. To this end, labs, universities, and pharmaceutical companies have been working to catch up on this 100 year deficit of science regarding CBD.

COVID-19: Modern Day Goliath

Given the global pandemic, it was only a matter of time before someone asked the question, can CBD help in relation to COVID-19? 

On the surface it kind of feels like the type of science where you throw everything at a problem just to see what sticks, but on a closer analysis it actually looks relatively promising. COVID is primarily an inflammatory disease; it’s not the virus itself that’s lethal, but your body’s runaway inflammatory and immune response. Given that CBD helps to modulate inflammation, could it help reduce COVID mortality?

According to a recent paper from the University of Chicago, the answer is a resounding yes. Not only did CBD appear to reverse infection in infected cells and prevent infection in healthy cells, but it also appeared to reduce the risk of infection by a factor of 10. 

CBD appears to do 3 things against COVID 19: 

  1. Prevent infection – This is perhaps the most remarkable. The University of Chicago Medical Center showed that while 10% of the ~93,000 patients tested were actually COVID positive, they found that only 1.2% of CBD users actually tested positive. This appears to demonstrate an incredible protective effect from the virus.
  2. Reverse damage done by COVID – One of the things COVID 19 does is it will suppress your cells’ defenses, including the interferon pathway. The interferon pathway can be thought of as your cells’ first line of defense, basically interfering with COVID’s ability to hijack your cells as well as signal to other cells that something is wrong. Normally, COVID will suppress this response in your cells, concealing the infection from your body’s immune system. And by the time your body notices something is wrong, the amount of viruses in your system makes it think that the only option is to overreact. However, in cells treated with CBD, the interferon pathway was completely protected, allowing cells to prevent the virus from hijacking the cell in the first place.
  3. Prevents the cytokine storm – As we mentioned before, COVID-19 doesn’t actually kill you; it’s your body’s immune response, specifically cytokine storms. Cytokines are a normal part of your immune response, but in this case COVID 19 can cause a hyper response from your body’s natural defenses, similar to an out of control allergic reaction. This cytokine storm can destroy lung tissue and cause COVID induced pneumonia, which is potentially lethal, especially if you have co-morbidities or are in a certain age demographic. However, CBD appeared to prevent this entirely, preventing possibly fatal outcomes in those patients. 

There are some limitations to this study: for example, the researchers point out that the majority of the patients who were using CBD were taking an FDA-approved treatment for epilepsy, not an over the counter CBD oil. The researchers also point out that not all CBD oils are equal. You have to be careful about who you buy from and what you’re buying. Purchase CBD oil that has been 3rd party verified, like The Doctors has, and make sure that you’re buying actual CBD oil. Normal Hemp Oil typically does not have any CBD, and neither does Hemp Seed Oil.