CBD Gummies And Covid

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David Aronoff, MD, discusses an early study on CBD and on how to address interested patients UChicago Medicine study suggests high-purity CBD may help block virus from replicating A new study has found cannabidiol or CBD can block COVID-19 infection in human cells and mice, but don’t rush out and buy products from your local dispensary. Here’s what you need to know about the study and where things stand with COVID-19 treatments.

CBD Gummies And Covid

In this video, David Aronoff, MD, chair of the department of medicine at Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis, discusses a recent study testing cannabidiol (CBD) against COVID-19 in the lab and in mice, and how to guide patients seeking treatment for COVID-19.

The following is a transcript of his remarks:

If a patient were to come to me and ask about the use of CBD oil to prevent COVID-19 or reduce the severity of it, I would say that right now, that approach is not ready for prime time. There are other, better ways that we know are safe and very effective to prevent COVID-19 and reduce the severity if someone gets ill. So wear your mask, socially distance, get vaccinated, and if you get symptomatically ill with COVID, let a healthcare professional know, because you may be eligible for things like monoclonal antibodies or new medications like Paxlovid [nirmatrelvir/ritonavir] or repurposed medicines like fluvoxamine [Luvox]. But it’s really important to engage with a licensed healthcare professional if you’re sick with COVID-19.

These investigators thought that there may be some anti-inflammatory effects of CBD, and that might be useful to suppress some of the inflammation that can occur in patients who have COVID-19. But the investigators found a surprising result, which is that CBD and one of its active metabolites didn’t really have too much of an effect on the inflammatory response of the epithelial cells they were studying. But rather, and curiously, the CBD seemed to block the replication of the SARS CoV-2 virus in the respiratory epithelial cells.

This really led the investigators to dig deeper into trying to understand whether the effect they were seeing was specific to CBD or could be found in other compounds that may be also identified in marijuana and to try to drill down on mechanisms through which CBD could be limiting SARS CoV-2 replications in epithelial cells.

And finally, based on what they found in vitro, they wanted to know if there were any correlates of this compound being used in humans that may show some promise for reducing the risk of COVID-19 and even went as far as doing an interventional study in mice to look at the impact of CBD on reducing the severity of SARS COVID-2 infection in a mouse model.

While this study is really interesting and promising, we don’t yet have data in humans that show that we can use CBD oil in therapeutic ways to prevent COVID-19 or reduce the severity of COVID-19. And really what we need is an actual randomized placebo-controlled, double-blind study, which is now regularly being done to look at therapeutic and preventive strategies for COVID-19. Right now, the best we can say about CBD oil is that it’s a promising idea. But until we have properly controlled studies, we don’t actually know how effective or not this is in humans.

Even the human component of the study that was just published, although it was retrospective, which has its limitations, it was looking at essentially medical-grade CBD oil used in the treatment of people who have severe seizure disorders. So we really don’t know how commercially-available, easy-to-get CBD preparations might perform in protecting people from COVID-19.

Emily Hutto is an Associate Video Producer & Editor for MedPage Today. She is based in Manhattan.

Researchers recommend clinical trials for CBD to prevent COVID-19 based on promising animal data

UChicago Medicine study suggests high-purity CBD may help block virus from replicating

An interdisciplinary team of researchers from the University of Chicago has found evidence that cannabidiol, or CBD, a product of the cannabis plant, can inhibit infection by the COVID-19 virus in human cells and in mice.

The study, published on Jan. 20 in Science Advances, found CBD showed a significant negative association with positive COVID tests in a national sample of medical records of patients taking the FDA-approved drug for treating epilepsy. The researchers now say that clinical trials should be done to determine whether CBD could eventually be used as a preventative or early treatment for COVID-19.

They caution, however, that the COVID-blocking effects of CBD come only from a high-purity, specially formulated dose taken in specific situations. The study’s findings do not suggest that consuming commercially available products with CBD additives that vary in potency and quality can prevent COVID-19.

An unexpected avenue

The idea to test CBD as a potential COVID-19 therapeutic was serendipitous. “CBD has anti-inflammatory effects, so we thought that maybe it would stop the second phase of COVID infection involving the immune system, the so-called ‘cytokine storm,’” said Marsha Rosner, Charles B. Huggins Professor in the Ben May Department of Cancer Research and a senior author of the study. “Surprisingly, it directly inhibited viral replication in lung cells.”

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To see this effect, the researchers first treated human lung cells with a non-toxic dose of CBD for two hours before exposing the cells to the COVID virus and monitoring them for the virus and the viral spike protein. They found that, above a certain threshold concentration, CBD inhibited the virus’ ability to replicate. Further investigation found that CBD had the same effect in two other types of cells and for three variants of the COVID virus in addition to the original strain.

CBD did not affect the ability of the virus to enter the cell. Instead, CBD was effective at blocking replication early in the infection cycle and six hours after the virus had already infected the cell.

Like all viruses, the COVID virus affects the host cell by hijacking its gene expression machinery to produce more copies of itself and its viral proteins. This effect can be observed by tracking virus-induced changes in cellular RNAs. High concentrations of CBD almost completely eradicated the expression of viral RNAs. It was a completely unexpected result.

“We just wanted to know if CBD would affect the immune system,” Rosner said. “No one in their right mind would have ever thought that it blocked viral replication, but that’s what it did.”

The researchers showed that the mechanism by which CBD blocks the COVID virus replication involves CBD activation of one of the host cell stress responses and generation of interferons, an antiviral cell protein.

Real-world data: Patients taking CBD test positive for COVID-19 at lower rates

The researchers wanted scientific data to show that CBD prevents viral replication in live animals. The team showed pretreatment with CBD for one week prior to infection with the virus suppressed infection both in the lung and the nasal passages of mice. “These results provide major support for a clinical trial of CBD in humans,” said Rosner.

And the success of CBD wasn’t limited to the laboratory: An analysis of 1,212 patients from the National COVID Cohort Collaborative revealed that patients taking a medically prescribed oral solution of CBD for the treatment of epilepsy tested positive for COVID-19 at significantly lower rates than a sample of matched patients from similar demographic backgrounds who were not taking CBD.

The potential for CBD to treat patients recently exposed to or infected by SARS-CoV-2—the virus that causes COVID—does not precede the first lines of defense against COVID-19, which are to get vaccinated and follow existing public health guidelines for masking in indoor spaces and social distancing. But the published results offer a potential new therapeutic, something still needed as the pandemic rages on.

“A clinical trial is necessary to determine whether CBD is really effective at preventing or suppressing SARS-CoV-2 infection, but we think this may have potential as a prophylactic treatment,” said Rosner. “Maybe you’re in a hot spot or you think you might have been exposed or you’ve just tested positive—that’s where we think CBD might have an effect.”

Not your dispensary’s CBD

The research team emphasized that the COVID-blocking effects of CBD were confined strictly to high purity, high concentrations of CBD. Closely related cannabinoids such as CBDA, CBDV and THC, the psychoactive element enriched in marijuana plants, did not have the same power. In fact, combining CBD with equal amounts of THC actually reduced the efficacy of CBD.

“Going to your corner bakery and buying some CBD muffins or gummy bears probably won’t do anything,” said Rosner. “The commercially available CBD powder we looked at, which was off the shelf and something you could order online, was sometimes surprisingly of high purity but also of inconsistent quality. It is also hard to get into an oral solution that can be absorbed without the special, FDA-approved formulation.”

Furthermore, CBD use is not without potential risks. It appears to be extremely safe when consumed in food or drink, but methods of use such as vaping can have negative side effects, including potential damage to the heart and lungs. It’s also not well studied in certain populations, such as pregnant people, and so should be used only under the supervision of a physician and with caution.

While the study’s results are exciting, additional study is needed to determine the precise dosing of CBD that is effective at preventing infection in humans as well as its safety profile and any potential side effects.

“We are very eager to see some clinical trials on this subject get off the ground,” Rosner said. “Especially as we are seeing that the pandemic is still nowhere near the end—determining whether this generally safe, well-tolerated and non-psychoactive cannabinoid might have anti-viral effects against COVID-19 is of critical importance.”

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Rosner was also pleased that this research project was a case study in the power of scientific collaboration by bringing together a highly interdisciplinary group of researchers. Senior authors listed on the paper came from three different research universities and from departments as diverse as microbiology, molecular engineering, cancer biology and chemistry.

“This was truly a team-science effort, and that’s something that really excites me,” said Rosner. “From clinicians to David Meltzer’s group who did the patient analysis to virologists like Glenn Randall, and it goes on and on. This is the way science should be carried out.”

Additional authors include Long Chi Nguyen, Dongbo Yang, Thomas J. Best, Nir Drayman, Adil Mohamed, Christopher Dann, Diane Silva, Lydia Robinson-Mailman, Andrea Valdespino, Letícia Stock, Eva Suárez, Krysten A. Jones, Saara-Anne Azizi, James Michael Millis, Bryan C. Dickinson, Savaş Tay, Scott A. Oakes, and David O. Meltzer of the University of Chicago; Vlad Nicolaescu, Haley Gula, and Glenn Randall of UChicago and Argonne National Laboratory; Divayasha Saxena, Jon D. Gabbard, Jennifer K. Demarco, William E. Severson, Charles D. Anderson, and Kenneth E. Palmer of the University of Louisville; Shao-Nong Chen, Takashi Ohtsuki, John Brent Friesen, and Guido F. Pauli of the University of Illinois at Chicago; and the National COVID Cohort Collaborative Consortium.

Funding: BIG Vision grant from the University of Chicago, the National Institutes of Health, Harry B. and Leona M Helmsley Charitable Trust.

CBD Gummies And Covid

Scientists say the discovery means more research is warranted, including a full human trial measuring CBD’s effectiveness against COVID-19. While the findings are positive, they advise against using commercially available CBD products, which can vary in potency and quality, as a treatment for COVID-19

The study was published Jan. 20 in Science Advances. It involved treating human cells and mice with CBD to test its effect on COVID-19, as well an analysis more than 1,000 individuals taking a medically prescribed, FDA-approved formulation of CBD for the treatment of epilepsy.

“This does not mean (an individual) should run out and get CBD products from a local dispensary or favorite bakery for a CBD muffin or CBD gummy bears,” said Marsha Rosner, a professor at the University of Chicago and a senior author of the study. “We were very careful to use very high purity, very high-quality CBD. ”

The study showed CBD can block the virus from replicating in human cells after entering those cells, “which is important because it has the potential to be used as an early response agent, not just for prevention,” said Rosner. “CBD works on our cells after the virus enters – it’s not targeting the virus directly. What it’s doing is activating one of our own systems to respond to pathogens.”

By not targeting the virus directly, researchers believe CBD should be effective against COVID-19 variants, which attempt to evade the immune system, according to Rosner, who said research found it to be effective against the alpha, beta and gamma variants as well as the original strain.

Researchers plan to investigate its efficacy against the delta and omicron variants.

The study also found CBD given to mice before infection decreased the amount of virus in their lungs and nasal passages, which shows it has the potential to work in humans, said Rosner. “These results provide major support for a clinical trial of CBD in humans.”

The analysis of a group of individuals taking a medically prescribed formulation of CBD for epilepsy found patients tested positive for COVID-19 at significantly lower rates than patients from similar demographic backgrounds who were not taking CBD.

“We don’t know yet if CBD can prevent COVID-19, but the results provide strong evidence for a clinical trial such as those that were done for vaccines to see if CBD is effective for preventing or decreasing COVID-19 infection,” Rosner said. “We do not view CBD as a substitute for vaccines or masking, or any of the other guidelines the CDC has suggested. We should think of this as another tool in our arsenal. We imagine if we find it works in clinical trial, it might be useful for breakthrough infections.”

The findings about CBD were not found in marijuana, which is also derived from the cannabis plant.

“We can pretty definitively say smoking marijuana is not going to help you fight COVID-19,” Rosner said, adding the tetrahydrocannabinol or THC in marijuana that gets people high actually decreased the efficacy of CBD against COVID-19.

Current COVID-19 treatments

While researchers are investigating potential clinical trials to further analyze CBD’s effect on COVID-19, there are treatment options available for COVID-19, including antiviral pills that can be taken at home.

“There’s no cure at this point. What we have are medications that studies have shown decrease the risk of progression to severe disease or hospitalization in high-risk patients,” said Dr. Shivanjali Shankaran, an infectious disease specialist at Rush University Medical Center.

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The two antiviral drugs currently available – one made by Pfizer (Paxlovid) and another made by Merck (Molnupiravir) – are intended for people with mild or moderate COVID-19 who are more likely to become seriously ill. That includes people with diabetes, heart disease, liver problems and other conditions that make people more vulnerable, according to Shankaran.

People need to inform their providers of all medications and supplements they’re taking due to potential drug interactions, says Dr. Susan Bleasdale, medical director and chief quality officer at UI Health. There are no known drug interactions for Molnupiravir based on limited available data, while certain drugs are associated with serious and/or life-threatening reactions for Paxlovid, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s emergency use authorization fact sheets for the respective medications. Molnupiravir isn’t recommended for pregnant people because of the potential for birth defects, which means people need to use contraception while taking it, according to Bleasdale.

While both drugs have shown to be effective, they are only available via prescription and must be taken as soon as possible once symptoms begin. “Time is of the essence,” said Shankaran.

Illinois has started receiving shipments of both medications, but supplies are limited, which means not everyone who wants them can receive them.

“The oral antiviral medications we have are super promising,” said Dr. Emily Landon, an infectious disease specialist at UChicago Medicine. “Once they’re available in reasonable quantities, they can change the way we mange COVID-19.”

Monoclonal antibodies are another treatment option intended to prevent severe disease and death by supplying concentrated doses of antibodies early in an infection.

People who have medical conditions that put them at higher risk of severe disease despite being vaccinated, as well as those who are unvaccinated, can benefit from these treatments, according to Bleasdale, if treatments are started early.

“By the time someone is coming into the hospital, it has no benefit and there may be some potential harm in inhibiting the immune system,” she said. “We want to save lives, and this is a treatment if you’re not vaccinated that can potentially save your life.”

But unlike the antivirals, they must be administered via an infusion.

“They can be used not only to treat infection, but also to prevent infection,” Landon said. “There are a number of different ones on the market that are really tailored to (COVID-19’s) spike protein. … The problem with monoclonal antibodies made for delta and the original strain of COVID is that they don’t work that well for omicron.”

That led the FDA to revoke emergency authorization for antibody drugs from Regeneron and Eli Lilly.

In its decision, the FDA said that omicron accounts for more than 99% of infections in the U.S., making it “highly unlikely” the antibodies would help people seeking treatment. But if the drugs prove effective against future variants, the FDA said it could reauthorize their use.

There are other monoclonal antibodies (Sotrovimab and Evusheld) that appear to be effective against omicron, according to clinicians. But they too are in short supply and are limited to those with mild to moderate symptoms who are most at risk of developing severe illness. To help individuals locate where to find approved treatments, the Illinois Department of Public Health maintains an online database of places providing them.

Another treatment option is remdesivir – the first drug approved for COVID-19. Originally limited to hospitalized patients, the FDA recently expanded the antiviral’s approval to include adults and children with early COVID-19 who are at high risk of hospitalization.

While remdesivir is widely available, it requires three consecutive IV infusions over three days, presenting challenges to both patients and providers. “Hospitals are too full to admit people,” Landon said. That means an individual would have to make three separate trips to a hospital or infusion center to receive treatment.

Even with these treatment options, clinicians stressed the need for vaccination.

“The most important thing is to get vaccinated – vaccinated and boosted,” said Shankaran, who urged people to get tested early if they develop symptoms and to talk with their providers about potential treatment options.

“I’ve been asked by others, ‘Is this going to replace vaccination?’ No, it’s not,” she said, adding the vaccines still prevented hospitalizations and deaths during the omicron surge.

And people shouldn’t be tossing out their masks just yet, according to Landon.

“We’re not done yet. It’s going to be OK, but now is not the time to stop our mitigations just yet,” she said.

The Associated Press contributed.

Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified drug interactions for antiviral medications. The story has been updated.

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