We must remember that the novel coronavirus resulting in COVID-19 is a brand new virus that has ZERO studies done on it. As such, all the recommendations that are made in this series are based on the best scientific information we have at the moment. We have looked at the physiological consequences that are resulting from coronavirus infection and what is happening within the body of those who have been infected. We will look at other similar diseases and what has been shown to be effective in minimizing the symptoms, severity, and length of illness. We will combine the information from this published research with recent literature on supplements, food, energy therapies, environmental influence, and other holistic options to hopefully provide the best immune response WHEN we DO contract the novel coronavirus. These recommendations won’t necessarily prevent you from becoming infected but will give your body the best opportunity to responding appropriately once you are infected.
Ideally, each of us will not interact with the novel coronavirus but the reality is that many of us are going to. Although there is no proven way to prevent having a negative immune response we need to at least consider options:
a) Have no known negative physiological effects
b) Are practical for the majority of people to get or do
c) Have the potential to make a significant impact on our body’s resilience to the novel coronavirus.
d) Utilizing options that have been shown in scientific literature to be beneficial against closely related viruses or on similar immune responses in the body
This series of options would likely work best when “stacked” and utilized together. It is our opinion that applying as many of these complimentary options as possible will be most beneficial in improving how your body interacts with the coronavirus. If new information comes to light these suggestions will be expanded upon or altered to match the best science available at the time.
***None of these suggestions (supplementation or other health intervention) should be started prior to consultation with your own personal physician to get a recommendation based on your specific health needs
Ok, to understand how exogenous cannabinoids may be able to mitigate or minimize an exaggerated immune response in COVID-19 we must understand:
1) What is happening to those individuals who have been infected with the novel coronavirus and have had the worst health outcomes, including death
2) How does our own endocannabinoid system work and what does the literature say regarding its influence on the immune system
3) How can exogenous cannabinoids, like those found in hemp, improve our cannabinoid system’s potential to combat the coronavirus
1) What is the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 and what is happening to the body in these patients?
COVID-19 is primarily a lung disease in most patients
Respiratory droplets often produced during coughing
are the most common means of transmission between
Fever, fatigue and cough are amongst the most
common early symptoms. This may worsen to become
Although 80% of infected people are thought to have
only a mild infection the rest develop severe or critical
The novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, also known as
2019-nCoV is the virus that causes COVID-19
It is spreading rapidly worldwide. With a death rate
ranging from 1% to 2% in young patients but about 5%-
10% in elderly and sick patients
It is capable of devastating multiple organ systems in
the human body, commonly the lungs
Unfortunately, you may be contagious before,
during and after symptoms. Because of this, it is
IMPOSSIBLE to know who is carrying the novel coronavirus
Lessons from Wuhan, China
A report from Wuhan on Feb. 18 noted Chinese medical researchers have found that the increase of two types of serum cytokines can warn the turning of patients infected with the novel coronavirus into severe pneumonia.
- IL-6 is a major proinflammatory cytokine
- Wuhan, China has reported that high baseline IL-6 levels in patients correlate with the increased severity of COVID-19
- They also reported when the IL-6 levels decreased the
patients’ symptoms improved dramatically
- Chinese Journal of Tuberculosis and Respiratory Diseases. https://clinowl.com/analysis-of-clinical-features-of-29-patients-with-2019-novel-coronavirus-pneumonia/
- On admission, the high baseline levels of IL-6 was closely related to the manifestation of severe type patients outcomes
- The research team found that critically ill patients had the most interleukin-2 (IL-2R) and interleukin-6 (IL-6) in their serum, while the patients with mild pneumonia had the least
- The decrease of IL-6 was closely related to the improvement in symptoms and outcomes in patients with COVID-19 and was significantly related to the clinical effectiveness of treatment
- High level of IL-6 indicated disease progression. Collectively, the dynamic change of IL-6 level can be used as a marker for disease monitoring in patients with severe COVID-19
*** The ability to lower the IL-6 levels would be a significant breakthrough in helping patients with severe symptoms from COVID-19***
The Lungs and COVID-19
“In severe cases, you basically flood your lungs, and you can’t breathe. That’s how people are dying.” according to Friedman.
This exaggerated immune response in the lungs is a result of what is called Cytokine Storm Syndrome.
A ‘Cytokine Storm Syndrome’ is the immune response that has been responsible for many of the deaths attributed to COVID-19.
During a cytokine storm an excessive immune response ravages healthy lung tissue leading to acute respiratory distress and multi-organ failure.
Untreated, Cytokine Storm is often fatal. When Cytokine Storm Syndrome brought on by other viruses was treated early death rates have been significantly reduced (Eloseily EM, et al, Arthritis Rheumatology, 2020) https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/art.41103
For COVID-19, it appears we need a way to minimize these cytokines. Specifically, IL-6, IL-2, IFN-gamma, and TNF-alpha.
Corticosteroids can be powerfully broad immunosuppressive agents, and they are inexpensive and readily available throughout the world. However, in Wuhan, China these drugs have not shown to improve the mortality rates and have lengthened the symptoms presentation in those that do survive.
In China, coronavirus patients exhibiting signs of cytokine- storm syndrome reportedly are being treated with the anti-inflammation drug Actemra (tocilizumab). Actemra is used in the U.S. for rheumatoid arthritis. ***ACTEMRA ® was the first RA treatment to directly block the action of interleukin-6 (IL-6).
So blocking IL-6 appears to be key!
There may be some good news though!!! Our bodies have a system that can actually mitigate the Cytokine Storm, including decreasing the secretion of IL-6!!!... It is known as the Endocannabinoid System.
Let's explain how this can work:
2. The Endocannabinoid System In Brief
Our body naturally produces a compound known as Anandamide. It is part of a family of compounds known as endocannabinoids.
Endogenous (made in our bodies) and exogenous (plant-derived) cannabinoids mediate their effects through activation of specific cannabinoid receptors. Most importantly for the purposes of the current article, the cannabinoid system has been shown to be involved in regulating the immune system.
Studies examining the effect of cannabinoids on immunity have shown that many cellular and cytokine mechanisms are modulated by the various cannabinoids, thus raising the hypothesis that these compounds may be of value in the management of inflammatory diseases.
There are MANY studies documenting alterations in cytokines release induced by endocannabinoids acting on immune cells. The capacity of anandamide to suppress the pro-inflammatory response of T-cells is of pivotal importance.
Cencioni et al noted that “Current research is investigating the possibility to interfere with the function of these cells, and the finding that a natural endogenous compound such as anandamide exerts a suppressive – but not cytotoxic – effect also on cells with a central role in the induction of autoimmunity.
Most immunosuppressive therapies in use are cytotoxic for T cells, thus exposing the patients to increased risk of infections.
***The finding that Anandamide preserves cell viability whilst containing the pro-inflammatory response represents an innovative approach in the effort to avoid autoimmune reactivity without affecting protective immune responses. On this basis, the present evidence for an immunosuppressive effect of Anandamide seems very timely, and is suggestive of new therapeutic approaches that could potentially target autoimmune diseases” (Cencioni MT, Chiurchiu` V, Catanzaro G,Borsellino G, Bernardi G, et al. (2010) Anandamide Suppresses Proliferation and Cytokine Release from Primary Human T-Lymphocytes Mainly via CB Receptor January 14,2010) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2809084/
Cannabinoids and Cytokines
Several studies demonstrate a role for the endocannabinoid system in regulating cytokine responses to immune stress in vivo
(Smith et al. 2000) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10734163
(Smith et al, 2001) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11672577
(Roche et al. 2006) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17011047
It has, therefore, been hypothesized that – Cannabinoid receptor ligands can suppress the expression of inflammatory cytokines (TNF-a, IL-1, IL-2, IL-6, IL-12)
(Croxford and Yamamura 2005)
(Newton et al. 2009)
Anandamide suppresses proliferation and release of cytokines like IL-2, IL-6 TNF-a and IFN-gamma
(Cencioni et al. 2010)
(Sinha et al. 1998)
Cannabinoids modulates the release of inflammatory mediators such as nitric oxide (CB1R mediated), TNFa, IL-1, IL-6, IL-10 and IL-12, and the production of arachidonic acid metabolites in macrophage cultures via CBR (Cabral et al. 1995) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7776833
(Berdyshev et al) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11106790
Cannabinoids may induce a shift in cytokine profile from pro-inflammatory to anti-inflammatory. Plant cannabinoids may inhibit TNF-a.
3. Hemp Phytocannabinoids: Cannabidiol (CBD) Is One Example Of A Phytocannabinoid
The following article looked at exogenous hemp-based cannabinoids on cytokine expression in patients suffering from asthma (Evaluation of Serum Cytokines Levels and the Role of Cannabidiol Treatment in Animal Model of Asthma, Francieli Vuolo,et al) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4458548/
Their main findings were:
“Cannabidiol (CBD) treatment was able to decrease the serum levels of all analyzed cytokines … CBD seems to be a potential new drug to modulate lung inflammatory response in asthma.”
Cannabinoids, including CBD, are components of the Cannabis (hemp) plant.
Recently, it has been shown CBD is involved in controlling inflammatory response, expression, and genetic transcription in inflammatory lung diseases. It has also been demonstrated that CBD is well tolerated without significant effects even when chronically administered in humans.
IL-6, IL-2 the Cytokine referenced in Wuhan patients and reports:
****CBD has been shown to decrease IL-6 levels in animal and human models. TNF-α is a major mediator of severe asthma and a factor in COVID-19, and CBD also reduced the levels of TNF-α . Furthermore, CBD is able to directly suppress T cell secretion of IL-2 and IFN-gamma as well as TNF-alpha
Cannabinoids may be beneficial in improving cytokine profiles allowing for a decrease in overproduction of mucous in lungs and improving dilation of the bronchioles (Croxford and Yamamura, 2005)
Summary of Recommendations
This series of options made in the articles pertaining to the coronavirus would likely work best when “stacked” and utilized together. It is our opinion that applying as many of these complimentary options as possible will be most beneficial in improving how your body interacts with the coronavirus. If new information comes to light these suggestions will be expanded upon or altered to match the best science available at the time.
In those with a stressed endocannabinoid system lower doses of organic full-spectrum phytocannabinoids taken preventatively prior to symptom presentation and potentially larger doses taken at the earliest presentation of symptoms could be helpful in minimizing the Cytokine Storm associated with the worst outcomes from the novel coronavirus. Research should be done on the endocannabinoid system and possible ways to boost this system to determine what dosages and what supplements would work best. There have been reports that the coronavirus reduces fatty acid utilization by precursor cells thus tipping the body into a pro inflammatory state. Essential fatty acids have been noted as being an important treatment in the ICU. Anadnamide and 2-arachindonyl glycerol are made in the body from the essential fatty acids in our food sources. As such, increasing the fatty acid supplementation may be of great benefit.
***We recommend everyone speak with their own personal physician prior to implementing any supplement or lifestyle change that is suggested in any of these articles. Each of us has our own base health and health concerns that must be considered before making any changes.***
As a result of chronic stress and poor diet leading to a less than optimal Endocannabinoid System supplementation with phytocannabinoids found in hemp may prove to be of substantial benefit in those patients exposed to the novel coronavirus responsible for COVID-19 and could play a significant role in decreasing the cytokine storm (specifically IL-2, IL-6, TNF-alpha, IFN-gamma) associated with the most significant negative outcomes, including death, from COVID-19. Research will need to be done but unfortunately, it is not likely to happen in an institutionalized setting at this time. The best information available to us at the moment suggests full-spectrum hemp cannabinoids could be of significant benefit in aiding symptom relief in patients affected by the novel coronavirus. We must note that no studies have been done directly on COVID-19 patients and as such we must use the best information from the literature and this is what we have included in this article.