Protecting and supporting the body’s immune system can never be more important than it is today. So let’s examine the basics.
Proper sleep, diet, and exercise come first. A healthy body has a normally functioning immune system. Next, how do you boost your immune system? And where does CBD or CBDa fit in that equation?
CBD supplements certainly have their role in your options and a properly formulated and carefully selected CBD pill should be very high on your list as a powerful choice to protect you.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat rare forms of epilepsy in patients 2 years of age and older. Together with the increased societal acceptance of recreational cannabis and CBD oil for putative medical use in many states, the exposure to CBD is increasing, even though all of its biological effects are not understood.
One such example is the ability of CBD to be anti-inflammatory and immune-suppressive, so the purpose of this review is to summarize the effects and mechanisms of CBD in the immune system. It includes a consideration of reports identifying receptors through which CBD acts, since the “CBD receptor,” if a single one exists, has not been definitively identified for the myriad immune system effects.
The review then provides a summary of in vivo and in vitro effects in the immune system, in autoimmune models, with a focus on experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis, and ends with the identification of knowledge gaps.
Conclusion: Overall, the data overwhelmingly support the notion that CBD is
immune-suppressive and that the mechanisms involve direct suppression of activation of various immune cell types, induction of apoptosis, and promotion of regulatory cells, which, in turn, control other immune cell targets.
The whole world is in a dramatic lockdown due to the Covid-19 virus spreading throughout cities and countries. With no vaccines or cure at the moment, people are turning to as yet untested means of protection from the virus. Many worried people are asking: can CBDa or CBD prevent Covid-19? Maybe even cure it?
Can CBDa help against COVID-19?
It should be stressed that there are still no conclusive clinical trials regarding a medication, drug, or antibiotic that can cure Covid-19—let alone clinical trials involving CBD or CBDa.
Therefore, cannabinoids cannot prevent or cure Covid-19, as far as we know.
However, CBDa may help mitigate the psychological effects of lockdowns and quarantines. Its possible anti-inflammatory properties may also be a future tool in the fight against the virus.
CBDa and anxiety
Because of its interaction with serotonin, CBDa may be able to help with adverse effects of quarantine and lockdown such as anxiety, insomnia, and depression.
Extreme stress and long periods of anxiety can lead to depression and can cause medical issues such as increased heart rate, insomnia, high blood pressure, and chest pain.
With no cure or vaccination available for Covid-19, many people will experience increased stress levels and anxiety. Lockdown and quarantines contribute greatly to this. Feeling limited in one’s home and not being able to see friends, go out for a walk, or send the children to school are all highly stressful circumstances.
Can CBDa help with anxiety?
A 2013 study suggests that CBDa is a potent substance for alleviating anxiety. Specifically,
CBDa was a thousand times more powerful than CBD in binding to a specific serotonin receptor linked to anti-nausea and anti-anxiety effects.
Also, a CBDa derivative known as cannabidiolic acid methyl ester, or HU-580, retained CBDa’s ability to reduce anxiety-like behaviors. Crucially, it was also chemically stable enough to hold up as a clinical drug.
For millions of people stressing over Covid-19, this is welcome news. Anxiety is linked to insomnia and depression. Less anxiety means better sleep, so CBDa may also relieve people from the insomnia that is often associated with stressful situations.
CBDa may ameliorate people’s quality of life as they go through a lockdown or an extended quarantine.
CBDa and serotonin
Studies suggest that CBDa affects serotonin in ways that could possibly be beneficial. But just what is serotonin?
Serotonin is one of the body’s neurotransmitters—compounds that let nerve cells transmit signals. Serotonin is vital to functions like motor skills, sleeping, eating, digestion, and emotions. It influences our mood, sleep, and memory. It is also involved in anxiety and depression.
Cannabinoids have been known to influence serotonin. For instance, CBD activates a serotonin receptor called 5-HT1A and increases the circulation of serotonin in the brain. It seems to act as an adaptogen, trying to restore balance to your body and mind.
How does CBDa affect serotonin?
Interestingly, the study originally studied CBDa’s ability to reduce nausea and vomiting. The study demonstrated that CBDa can affect the body’s 5-HT serotonin-producing receptors, hinting at a potential use for CBDa as a medication for nausea—but also at its ability to influence your mood.
CBDa is 100 times more powerful than CBD in affecting 5-TH receptors. One reason is that CBDa has greater bioavailability than CBD, so the body can metabolize it faster and more easily.
Crucially, 5-HT receptors also affect our mood. Studies examining this aspect suggest that
CBDa may be an effective tool to fight depression. Indeed, CBDa works on 5-HT receptors
much the same way as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressant medication does. However, its possible side-effects are minor compared to SSRI medication.
So, CBDa may be a useful tool in alleviating anxiety and depression. But might CBDa also prevent or even cure Covid-19, as some claim?
To answer that question, we need to examine what Covid-19 is, how it affects our body, and how our immune system works.
What is Covid-19?
Covid-19 is an infectious disease caused by a novel coronavirus. On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic.
Covid-19’s symptoms include a cough, fever, and in more severe cases, difficulty in breathing. About 80% of sufferers only exhibit mild to moderate symptoms. To be clear, mild to moderate symptoms can still be pretty severe, but patients don’t require supplemental oxygen. These patients recover on their own.
In 20% of the cases, Covid-19 leads to complications resulting in respiratory or organ failure, with 14% of these cases exhibiting severe symptoms and 6% being critical.
Since COVID-19 impacts the elderly and those with pre-existing health conditions most severely, the WHO has asked everyone to help protect those people at the highest risk.
Practicing good hygiene and prevention measures, social distancing, and avoiding crowded places, continue to be very important. Those who do not feel well should stay home and contact their healthcare providers.
How does our immune system work?
Our immune system works 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Even when we sleep, our immune system works hard to protect our body from intruders like viruses, bacteria, or toxins.
Our skin: the immune system’s first barrier
Our first barrier to unwanted intruders is our skin. It is the most extensive and most powerful barrier protecting our bodies.
Our hair, the mucous membranes in our noses, and our stomach acid fluids also play a part in fighting and stopping pathogens.
Our immune system
If a pathogen manages to cross these barriers, then our immune system springs into action.
It attacks the intruder by creating inflammation around it, to stop the pathogen from spreading around the body. Without inflammation, wounds would fester, and infections could become deadly.
If the infection persists, the body releases enzymes like COX-2 that spread inflammation.
Inflammation causes redness, swelling, and a feeling of heat. Blood vessels dilate to increase blood flow. White blood cells swarm the injured area to promote healing. Inflammation also creates blood clots to heal damaged tissue. As part of the healing process, it can also trigger pain and fever.
How does Covid-19 work?
In most cases, the virus will start and end with the lungs. The virus invades lung cells and damages the cilia—tiny hair-like projections that line our lungs and sway to keep your airways clear of mucus and debris.
Infected cilia cells die and shed off. The debris hinders your ability to clear your lungs and trachea.
To fight the intruder, your immune system causes inflammation in the lungs. This inflammation further damages the lungs. The increased damage causes more inflammation. If this cycle is left unchecked, it may continue until no healthy tissue remains.
In this case, what destroys your lungs ends up being your body’s own response to the virus and not the virus itself. That is why treatment protocols commonly include anti-inflammatory medication.
CBDa and inflammation
In 2008, researchers in Japan noticed that the molecular structure of CBDa closely resembles that of other common nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Spurred by this, the team wondered about CBDa’s anti-inflammatory properties.
The researchers found that CBDa, like other NSAIDs, inhibits COX-2—one of the enzymes that help spread inflammation through the body. They concluded that “naturally occurring CBDa in cannabis is a selective inhibitor for COX-2.”
So, CBDa may be a powerful anti-inflammatory agent.
It is also worth mentioning that research on the possible anti-inflammatory effects of cannabinoids is not limited to CBDa and CBD. It actually extends to terpenes like beta-caryophyllene. These, too, are believed to be useful in our fight against uncontrolled and chronic inflammation.
Can CBDa boost our immune system?
Initial observations in animal samples, small human samples, and laboratory experiments show that the interaction between cannabinoids and the immune system is complex.
For example, some studies show that cannabis has immunosuppressant qualities, i.e. it can suppress the immune system. Others, however, show that it can actually boost it.
There are two possible explanations for this: one, is that cannabinoids modulate the immune system instead of simply stimulating or suppressing it.
And two, that some cannabinoids may be biphasic—i.e. their action depends on dosage. While a low dose may cause one effect, a high one may cause its opposite. For example, CBD in low doses may make you alert but in high ones, it may make you drowsy.
More research is required before we have a clear idea of the effect cannabinoids like CBDa or terpenes like beta-caryophyllene have on our immune system.
Should I take CBDa during the Covid-19 pandemic?
At the moment, there is no way of knowing whether CBDa helps with Covid-19. Clinical trials are focusing on repurposing existing medication in novel combinations, as this is the fastest way to produce a cure.
People with existing conditions such as cancer, heart disease, or conditions requiring immunosuppressants are at great risk from Covid-19. They could end up in hospital with serious complications due to pneumonia.
If you want to try CBDa for its possible anti-inflammatory or anti-anxiety properties, remember that CBDa may interact with existing conditions or your current medications. Before taking CBDa (or any other cannabinoid), consult with your doctor first.
CBDa may be a useful tool in our fight against Covid-19. It may help with the inflammation that destroys our lungs and other organs. And it may alleviate the psychological effects of lockdowns and quarantines.
However, more research and clinical trials are required before we can talk about CBDa being a possible cure or preventative measure against Covid-19.
Right now, our best weapons against the virus are practicing good hygiene and taking preventative measures such as social distancing. If you are not feeling well, stay home and contact your healthcare providers!
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