Even though further research needs to be done, early studies show CBD could be a promising treatment for COVID. Research from several laboratory studies about the effects of CBD on COVID has garnered worldwide media attention. However, even though these early results are exciting, there are still many nuances to understand about CBD and COVID.

It all starts with stress

CBD is commonly known to give users a sense of relaxation and take away the stress. When it comes to fighting COVID, CBD actually triggers stress. However, it’s much different stress than what you might be thinking of.

Cancer researcher and study leader Marsha Rosner, and her team at the University of Chicago stumbled across the first CBD and COVID results. Rosner and her team were studying compounds for cancer and trying to trigger the hot stress response. When the hot stress response is triggered, cells go into a defense mood. Cells release a protective chemical that prevents viruses from replicating in the body.

Rosner and her team noticed CBD was surprisingly effective at triggering the hot stress response. The surprising results inspired Rosher to study CBD against the novel coronavirus.

First, the team exposed human lung cells in a dish to CBD. Then the lung cells were infected with COVID-19. The team found the cells exposed to CBD were much more effective at fighting off infection. Similar results were seen for COVID variants, including alpha, beta, and gamma. Other variants were not available at the time of the study.

CBD outside the petri dish

For testing to be proven, it has to be taken outside the petri dish and into a living organism. For Rosner’s team, that meant testing the compound on mice. The team injected pure CBD into the lungs of the mice and sprayed live COVID into nasal passages. The CBD injections were continued for four more days.

After five days, the team measured the viral loads in the lungs and nasal passages of the mice. To say the results were promising would be an understatement.

The team found even with a low dose of CBD, the viral load in treated mice was 4.8 times lower in the lungs and 3.7 times lower in the nasal passages than in the untreated mice. With a higher dose of CBD, the results were even more promising. Viral loads in the lungs of treated mice were 40 times lower than those in the untreated mice.

CBD treated mice also showed none of the common symptoms observed in untreated mice. The typical symptoms included falling ill and losing significant weight.

What about humans?

Before any treatment, vaccine, or drug can be tested on humans, it has to go through rigorous testing and third-party results. However, CBD has been approved by the FDA for some seizure disorders. Rosner and her team were able to look at the medical records of patients that regularly took CBD for seizure disorders.

The team looked at around 1,060 medical records. Half of the patients took CBD regularly, while the other half didn’t. The rate of COVID-positivity in those taking CBD was around 5%, compared to the 9% in those not taking CBD.

These findings were based on medical records, so there could be many factors at play besides regular CBD use. However, like the results in mice, the findings are very promising.

Testing next steps

To apply for human clinical trials, scientists need to show preclinical data that the treatment is safe and has an impact. CBD has already cleared one major hurdle as it has been approved by the FDA to treat other disorders. Rosner and her team’s tests have shown to be effective. However, a test studying whether CBD could prevent COVID infection would need a massive sample size.

Can I take CBD to treat COVID?

The simple answer is no. You can not and should not try to treat COVID with CBD. Your best bet to fighting off COVID is still by listening to the scientists and using approved treatments.

However, CBD has shown promising results. One day CBD may be a viable option for fighting off COVID or at least preventing severe symptoms. We’re very excited about what the future of CBD holds and how it keeps revealing new health benefits.