Reduction of Lung Damage in COVID-19 with Cannabidiol

Studies conducted show that CBD appears to reduce the “cytokine storm” that damages the lungs and kills many patients with COVID-19 is by enabling an increase in levels of a natural peptide called apelin, which is known to reduce inflammation and whose levels are dramatically reduced in the face of this storm. Researchers reported CBD’s ability to improve oxygen levels and reduce inflammation as well as physical lung damage in their laboratory model of deadly adult respiratory distress syndrome, or ARDS. The blood level of the peptide dropped close to zero in the ARDS model and increased 20 times with CBD.

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. 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. But when they looked at their ARDS model, apelin didn’t do either, and instead decreased in both the lung tissue itself and the general circulation until CBD was given.

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. The apelinergic system is a very, very ubiquitous signaling system,” Yu says. While it has diverse jobs in different places, and levels may rise and fall depending on what is needed, its levels are consistently measurable in the lungs, one of the reasons it should be a good biomarker, and it’s also generally considered protective, they say. Synthetic agonists that increase apelin levels exist and are showing promise in the laboratory for cardiovascular disease, including slowing the growth rate of weak points in blood vessels called aneurysms. CBD appears to be a natural apelin agonist, the researchers say.

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