Study links CBD to peptide that helps protect lungs from COVID-19

A newly published study links CBD, a non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in cannabis, with a significant increase in a peptide that may help protect the lungs of COVID-19 patients from damage. The findings come from the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University, where researchers found that CBD may help reduce the deadly cytokine storm that has claims many COVID-19 patients' lives.

Respiratory disease COVID-19 may, in severe cases, cause an issue often referred to as 'cytokine storm,' which is a severe immune reaction that damages the body's own tissues and cells rather than just the virus. For COVID-19 patients, a cytokine storm can result in permanent lung damage and often leads to death.

According to the new study, CBD may help protect against this damage by boosting apelin, a peptide that reduces inflammation and, most notably, has been found to drop significantly before a cytokine storm. Earlier this summer, the researchers used an adult respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) model to link CBD with reduced inflammation, increased oxygen, and lesser lung damage.

This new study has potentially found why CBD has been correlated with these outcomes, noting that apelin levels drop before a cytokine storm and that CBD increases apelin levels. The researchers note that in the ARDS lab model, apelin peptide levels reached near to zero, but skyrocketed 20 times with CBD.

Many questions remain, including whether the SARS-CoV-2 virus impacts apelin directly or if the drop in peptide levels is a more 'downstream' outcome. Likewise, it's unclear what other changes may be triggered by CBD to promote better lung function in ARDS patients. Future research will explore the links between CBD, SARS-CoV-2, and apelin specifically, among other things.