Israeli Study on Role CBD May Play in Helping COVID-19 Patients

Matt Weeks June 9, 2020 0 comments

Cannabis and COVID-19: Combining CBD with steroid therapy may boost outcomes for patients.

The research, coming from the country’s largest HMO (Health Maintenance Organization) in combination with a CBD company, aims to clear up the still-murky connections between cannabis and COVID-19. Specifically, the study focuses on the potential benefits that CBD can bring to hospitalized COVID-19 patients who are being treated with steroids.

The research has already moved to a clinical trial to capture a more accurate picture of exactly how CBD could enhance COVID-19 treatments and which patients could benefit the most from cannabis-assisted therapy.

A New Role for Cannabis in the Pandemic?

So far, cannabis-based medicine has been decried as ineffective against the novel coronavirus.

That’s not to say that it isn’t useful — just that it’s doesn’t appear to do much to stop the virus. In fact, there is some evidence THC could make symptoms worse. When it comes to CBD, however, the science is uncertain. The cannabinoid has not been shown to help coronavirus patients, but neither does it lead to harmful consequences – so far.

The Israeli study is the first to examine CBD as part of a larger treatment regime. If it shows particular benefits in helping the steroids fight off infection or in helping the patients heal faster, it would amount to a massive win in the world’s fight against COVID-19.

coronavirus under microscope representing cannabis and covid 19

How Could CBD Aid Steroids?

The researchers believe that by administering CBD through exosomes — tiny cellular structures discovered only thirty years ago that are now on the cutting-edge of medical therapy — CBD could be directly shuttled into organs that have been harmed by the virus.

The hope is that once inside of the worst-hit organs in the body, CBD’s natural anti-inflammatory properties go to work, helping repair damaged cells and, hopefully, allowing patients to clear out of hospital beds sooner.

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In this way, CBD would function like an inside-the-body Neosporin. It would potentially help patients heal faster without actually affecting the root disease.

Implications and Limitations of the Study

The Israeli study is a limited, 10-person, clinical trial. Think of it as an early trial balloon to gauge if there’s enough evidence for a bigger, more robust study in the future.

While the need for coronavirus research feels immediate, high-quality science is a lengthy process. Working at breakneck speed, scientists estimate the study will finish in about two months.

After that, more complete research into cannabis and COVID-19 could take place. The direction of future research will be shaped by the knowledge gained from this 10-person trial run.

That could mean fast-tracking more research into a combined steroid-and-CBD therapy. Or, just as easily, it could mean abandoning this direction to follow a more promising line of cannabis-assisted therapy that reveals itself during the clinical study.

All that is certain at this point is that one large healthcare company and a team of scientists from Tel Aviv University believe CBD presents a possible pathway to make COVID-19 less deadly and less costly.

Problems with Cannabis and COVID-19

The thought of CBD joining the frontlines against the coronavirus is exciting. However, we should not overstate it. The Israeli study could forge a new path in treatment. However, it does not contradict current medical advice about the dangers of smoking cannabis and COVID-19.

The coronavirus is a disease that affects the lungs, and any form of smoke inhalation can exacerbate it — that especially applies to cannabis smoke.

While no study so far has pinpointed a direct link between people who consume cannabis and COVID-19 — one could be coming soon, thanks to a study underway at The University of Miami. In the meantime, scientists are advising pot smokers to hold off on passing the joint. After all, the social nature of cannabis consumption can make sharing bowls, bongs, and joints ripe vectors for viral spreading.

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cannabis and covid 19 represented by scientist with buds

The Benefits of Cannabis in the Time of COVID-19

When the world changes, people cling to what brings comfort and security. As proof, cannabis sales went crazy during the first weeks of the pandemic. They were so high that many places are predicting an imminent shortage.

The calming, de-stressing, and euphoria-inducing powers of cannabis hold particular appeal during unpredictable times.

It also has less of a negative health impact than alcohol and is generally side-effect free. Some of the chief complaints against cannabis consumption have turned from cons to pros during the pandemic. Case in point – its ability to make boredom tolerable.

The Future of Cannabis Research 

Many countries in the world are learning how to anticipate and respond to future viral pandemics. Similarly, cannabis research will benefit from a more forward-looking strategy. The money and ideas thrown at possible links between cannabis and COVID-19 are understandable. However, these would have been more helpful three months ago.

Better still would be to understand how cannabis could help the next pandemic — before it arrives.

That means pouring more money into cannabis research that considers how the plant could help thwart diseases and disorders before they break out. After all, the endocannabinoid system has unique and widespread abilities to influence the body’s immune response.

Therefore, establishing a firm link between cannabis and COVID-19 could be a first step forward. It would help us understand how CBD could interact with other viruses and steroid-treated disorders. Taking the research beyond coronavirus will help humanity learn from its past mistakes and do better in the future.

Author avatar

Matt Weeks

A writer living and working in Athens, GA, Matt's work has appeared in various newspapers, books, magazines and online publications over the last 15 years. When he's not writing, he hosts bar trivia, plays in local bands, and makes a mean guacamole. He holds an undergraduate degree in journalism and a master's degree in organizational theory. His favorite movie is "Fletch."

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