A new study has shown that CBD appears to reduce the ‘cytokine storm’ that damages the lungs and kills many people who are infected from COVID-19. This is because it enables an increase of a natural peptide called apelin, which is known to reduce inflammation. The study was done by researchers at Dental College of Georgia and Medical Collage of Georgia.
Dr Babak Baban, DCG immunologist and associate dean for research says, “It was dramatic in both directions,”, when discussing shifting apelin levels in both circulating blood and lung tissue.
Blood levels of the peptide dropped close to zero in their ARDS model and increased 20 times with CBD, they reported in the Journal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine.
“CBD almost brought it back to a normal level,” Dr Jack Yu, physician scientist and chief of pediatric plastic surgery at MCG, said of the apparent first connection between CBD and apelin.
What is apelin and why is it so important?
“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”, said Baban, the study’s corresponding author.
When our blood pressure gets high, for example, apelin levels should go up in the right place, like endothelial cells that line blood vessels, to help bring it down. Apelin should do the same to help normalize the significant increases in inflammation in the lungs and related breathing difficulties associated with ARDS.
“Ideally with ARDS it would increase in areas of the lungs where it’s needed to improve blood and oxygen flow to compensate and to protect,” Baban said. But when they looked at their ARDS model, apelin did not do either, and instead decreased in both the lung tissue itself and the general circulation. Until they introduced CBD.
They reported this summer in the journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research that treatment with CBD reduced excessive lung inflammation, enabling improvements in lung function, healthier oxygen levels, and repair of some of the structural damage to the lungs that are classic with ARDS. The investigators said that more work was needed, including finding how CBD produced the significant changes as well as human trials, before it should be included as part of a treatment regimen for COVID-19.