The coronavirus, or COVID-19, is not an ordinary cold or flu. It compromises lung function, sometimes severely, and has a higher mortality rate than the ordinary flu. There is no vaccine yet for COVID-19. To avoid the virus and to promote recovery, social distancing, quarantining and hand-washing are the key actions, recommended across the board by doctors and health experts Meanwhile, it's not unreasonable to wonder: Can holistic medicine help? Can cannabinoids such as CBD help? And how can we spot false claims?
Be Sure You're Getting the Facts
Some cannabis proponents, including certain CBD promoters, are suggesting or implying that the immune system boost from cannabinoids could ward off viruses. The Food and Drug Administration has quickly clamped down on retailers that publish misleading advertising. False advertising is dangerous, even deadly. We applaud the people who are working overtime to stop COVID-19 misinformation.
Understandably, people are nervous about this latest virus to circle the globe. People are looking for help and want to share helpful news with others. But ask for sources. NO unsubstantiated claim about coronavirus treatments should EVER be made.
Simply stating the facts (and the citations) in reference to CBD is our professional responsibility. Let's do this now.
What Does It Mean to Have a Viral (Vs. Bacterial) Infection?
Infections can be bacterial, or they can be viral. Either kind of infection can lead to minor, moderate, or serious illnesses. It can be hard to tell whether an illness is viral or bacterial because they share so many symptoms, and a physical exam and testing may be necessary.
Most bacteria are actually harmless little beings. Many are our friends, providing our bodies with essential protections and nutrients. Bacteria rarely cause diseases.
But some do. Salmonella is an example of a bacterial infection. It's often a foodborne illness, connected with beef, chicken, eggs, or contaminated greens.
What makes a viral infection different? Unlike a bacterial infection, a virus does not respond to antibiotics.
Viruses are smaller. Unlike bacteria, a virus can only reproduce itself when it has a host cell. It often aims for cells in the lungs, blood or liver—and it usually does cause illness. Well-known sicknesses caused by viruses include:
- The flu.
- The human immunodeficiency viruses HIV and AIDS.
Vaccines have proven effective against viruses that cause the measles, polio, and chickenpox, and in preventing the seasonal flu, hepatitis A and B, and others.
Are viral infections contagious? Yes. In the case of COVID-19, we have witnessed the spread of a global pandemic.
What Does It Mean to Have COVID-19?
The SARS-CoV-2 virus, also called the coronavirus, causes the COVID-19 illness. Symptoms can range from a cold-like condition to pneumonia. How are the symptoms different from a cold or the common flu? Symptoms vary from case to case, but generally they look like this:
- Common cold symptoms: Sore throat, mild or no fever, mild fatigue, sneezing, runny nose, congestion, cough.
- Influenza (flu) symptoms: Fever, fatigue, headache, occasional diarrhea, dry cough.
- COVID-19 symptoms: Fever, fatigue, dry cough, eventual shortness of breath and difficulty breathing once the infection is severe.
COVID-19 is triggered when a viral particle enters a host cell in the body, sheds its exterior protein, and leaves RNA that takes over the cell to replicate itself and infect more cells.
IMPORTANT: A person may have no symptoms at all, yet carry the virus. To protect yourself and others, and to understand how to act if you believe you might have the virus, follow the instructions of your state's health commission, and follow the advice from the CDC.
Can CBD Help Alleviate Viral Infection Symptoms?
Now, let's focus on CBD and viral infections. Just what is CBD, and what can it do, according to science?
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a legal derivative of agricultural hemp plants. It contains, at most, only trace amounts of THC — legally, that means no more than 0.3%.
We cannot say whether CBD can help ease virus symptoms specifically. What do we know? Scientists have shown that CBD reduces inflammation. And a fever is one form of inflammatory response — one that results in an elevated body temperature.
So, let's turn to whether CBD can have impacts on the immune system.
The Endocannabinoid System (ECS) and Viral Infections
We don't have enough evidence to say whether forms of cannabis, specifically the hemp plant, have antiviral effects on the immune system. Again, we do know, as the Harvard Health blog explains, that it engages the body's pain processes and inflammatory responses, and that researchers have found a mechanism by which CBD eases both neuropathic and inflammatory pain.
As readers of the Mtiva blog already know, CBD engages receptors within our bodies' own internal cannabinoid receptor systems:
- The cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1) is primarily expressed in the central nervous system.
- The cannabinoid receptor 2 (CB2) works primarily through our immune tissues. This suggests that engaging this receptor could lead to treatments to ease inflammatory symptoms.
Importantly, research indicates that CBD can ease inflammation without the risks of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
CBD May Benefit Infections
We've noted the overlap between coronavirus flu symptoms: fever, fatigue, dry cough. And getting any infection creates a vulnerability, as it burdens the immune system. As people are staying home to avoid spreading viruses, they may choose a natural, plant-derived CBD oil instead of drugstore anti-inflammatory drugs to ease flu and cold symptoms. This does not mean hemp is a treatment for a cold or the flu. It only related to easing the symptoms and the stresses of feeling under the weather.
Meanwhile, be sure to follow your state governor's advice on social distancing and quarantines, to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
This message is not meant as medical advice, and we urge you to do your own further research. As always, contact Mtiva with questions about our CBD oils.
May you and yours be safe and well.
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