Non-psychoactive cannabis medicine may have the potential to fight COVID-19 and help in recovering from an infection.
According to researchers, one way that CBD minimizes the lung damage from COVID-19 is by increasing the levels of a natural peptide called apelin, which plays an important role in reducing inflammation and helping regulate blood pressure in the human body.
Apelin is produced in the lungs, heart, brain, fat tissue, and blood.
Researchers report that CBD can improve oxygen levels and help normalize apelin levels, which decrease during a COVID infection.
Immunologist and Associate Dean for Research Dr. Babak Baban says that the shifting apelin levels in circulating blood and lung tissue have been dramatic in both directions in study subjects.
According to the researchers’ report in the Journal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, blood levels of apelin dropped to nearly zero before they increased 20 times with CBD.
Physician scientist and Chief of Pediatric plastic surgery at MCG Dr. Jack Yu says that CBD almost brought the peptide back to a normal level.
Dr. Baban says they expected that apelin would increase in the lungs where it is needed to compensate and protect by improving blood and oxygen flow, but it decreased in the lung tissue and general circulation until CBD was administered.
“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,” states a press release. “The investigators said then 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.”
Though researchers are actively working to find an answer, they say that it is currently unknown whether the novel coronavirus or CBD has a direct effect on apelin or if they are downstream consequences.
Researchers say that it is likely that the virus suppresses something that suppresses apelin, and that administering CBD interferes, though they doubt that the apelin-CBD interaction is the only way that CBD works in this scenario and others.
Baban says that the bottom-line impact of the viral infection on apelin levels is a very good indicator of the disease, though causative details are currently unclear.
The research team’s new finding is their first discovery in learning more about how CBD can produce beneficial effects in COVID-19 cases.
Among the next steps for researchers is achieving a better understanding of the interaction between CBD, apelin, and COVID-19, including why apelin levels decrease with the virus and increase with CBD.
While there are promising synthetic agonists that can increase apelin levels, researchers say that CBD appears to be a natural apelin agonist.