As the year 2020 comes to a close, the global pandemic of Covid-19 continues its devastating path. Each country has dealt with a myriad of issues and complications from already burned out medical staff to forced flexibility in social restrictions to testing protocol, and ongoing research to develop an effective vaccine. In the meantime, communities are experiencing multiple levels of trauma that will increasingly manifest over time. With the ongoing expansion of use and cannabis-related policies in states, countries and provinces, it is anticipated that utilization of these types of therapies will play an integral part as the world begins to heal from Covid. Therefore, it is now up to patients and consumers of products to understand the implications of available options.
It is in the best interest of public health to fully grasp where we are with regards to data research on the potential of CBD and cannabis to alleviate symptoms caused by current circumstances. Join us as we explore the intricacies of emerging information during this historic time.
Are People Taking More CBD for Pandemic Stress?
After the spring of 2020 and the saga of Covid-19 began to unfold, we started to see articles ranging from claims that marijuana users were at increased risk of Covid all the way to multiple studies demonstrating that cannabinoids show positive potential in the treatment and prevention of coronavirus-related symptoms. Overall, while there may be reason for optimism what we know at this point in time is still nuanced and relatively incomplete. There is of course evidence on the overall safety and efficacy of some cannabidiol preparations for multiple conditions, and at the same time there is also a growing demand for these products despite a lack of regulatory guidance for industries. Situations are showing signs of change however, with the recent FDA virtual event about gender differences in cannabis-based products and an outlining of forthcoming program plans. The bottom line is there are a number of intricacies in producing and researching cannabis let alone regulating those processes to protect public health, so it will take some time still before the future picture becomes clearer.
According to Roy Bingham, Co-Founder and CEO of BDS Analytics their “growth forecast for the CBD market, across all distribution channels, predicts a compound annual growth rate of 49 percent by 2024.”More recently it was found in work conducted by Aclara Research that the top four reasons people used CBD products was for pain relief, anxiety, relaxation, and sleep. What all this information tells us is people are in fact utilizing products at an increasing rate to help with conditions associated with life during the pandemic.
One of the conditions many people have been feeling more during the pandemic is an increase in anxiety. In fact, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America’s website, “Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18.1% of the population every year” and that was before Covid even arrived. The CDC has even released resources to help with coping during this time, because of the different ways stress manifests. Thanks to the recent study, “Could Cannabidiol Be a Treatment for Coronavirus Disease-19-Related Anxiety Disorders?” there is a bit more information on the topic:
Symptoms of anxiety and post-traumatic stress are going to be prevalent as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in those most closely affected by the disease, and in those with pre-existing anxiety conditions. Unlike CBD, current antianxiety medications possess significant unwanted side effects, and delayed onset of action, limited efficacy in some patients, strong drug dependence, and withdrawal syndromes.
How Much Evidence Is There?
While the weight of peer-reviewed evidence about long-term effects of taking cannabidiol is often considered incomplete, a literature review about the safety profile of antiepileptic drugs found, “Data concerning the clinical effects of CBD in human patients have been collected from anecdotal cases, phone or online surveys, epidemiological studies, and few clinical trials.” Ongoing research is occurring at the clinical level and many other settings. Based on current trends people are at least finding some benefit without major side effects, otherwise we would be definitely hearing about it in the 24-hour news cycle.
A recent study was published entitled, “The potential of cannabidiol in the COVID-19 pandemic.” In this work, it was stated “Cannabidiol recognizes several receptor targets and displays a multifaceted immunomodulatory activity that could limit the severity of SARS-CoV2 infection: it downregulates ACE-2 receptors, SARS-CoV2 gateway, it can mitigate cytokines release and reduce pulmonary inflammation and fibrosis through PPARγ receptors.” To further confirm these findings, a publication from September found there is a “potential protective role for CBD during acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) that may extend CBD as part of the treatment of COVID-19 by reducing the cytokine storm, protecting pulmonary tissues, and re-establishing inflammatory homeostasis.” While more research is always needed, there have been additional initiatives looking at the use of cannabinoids for reducing inflammation caused by Covid-19.
In another promising study, “Cannabidiol (CBD) modulation of apelin in acute respiratory distress syndrome” researchers analyzed the expression of a specific receptor sites within the lungs of mice. This work concluded, “Our data demonstrate that CBD improves lung structure and exerts a potent anti-inflammatory effect following experimental ARDS. The beneficial effects of CBD were correlated with the regulation of apelin, an endogenous peptide with protective effects in pulmonary tissue.”
A clinical trial is now specifically looking at utilizing cannabidiol to treat Covid-19 patients, so there will be more data coming out in the near future. At the same time, as mentioned in our previous blog, with an unregulated market yet wider acceptance and growing demand, there is still reason for concern that some opportunists are only looking to make profit and engage in questionable practices. In our next installment we will discuss quality assurance and its importance during product development form seed to shelf.
There is an ongoing search for preventive measures for Covid, and current work does show there is a promising place for CBD in the therapeutic toolbox. With this in mind, it is crucial for medical providers and the public at large to understand all they can about overall wellness and most effective treatment options. The best way to achieve this is through transparent and open communication, along with knowing the story behind what we put in our bodies.