Israeli study to explore potential of treating COVID-19 patients with CBD

Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

Doctors at an Israeli hospital in Tel Aviv are optimistic that they can treat coronavirus patients with cannabidiol, A.K.A, “CBD”. As of April 29, 2020, the virus outbreak – which is currently affecting 211 countries and territories – is inflicting respiratory and flu-like symptoms on some 16,000 patients in the Middle Eastern country of Israel.

Since Israel is considered to be the global epicenter of medical cannabis research, it’s unsurprising that a study exploring the effects of CBD on COVID-19 victims is set to take place there. Specifically, the CBD experiment will be conducted straight out of Israel’s Ichilov Hospital.

CBD – a natural plant-derived chemical with anti-inflammatory properties – has been heavily adopted as a therapeutic aid in medical cannabis markets across the United States and Europe. However, scientists haven’t discovered whether or not doctors could use CBD to treat COVID-19 patients… until now. 

Israeli study into CBD for coronavirus will be a joint collaboration

Numerous hospital wards will contribute to the Israeli study on CBD for COVID-19; by treating and monitoring dozens of patients who suffer from the virus. Israeli researchers will focus on CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties when treating “moderately ill” patients throughout the duration of this cannabis study. Heavily researched for its potential in relieving pain, cognition and movement disorders, CBD is the primary active ingredient in the only FDA-approved cannabis-derived medicine for epilepsy — Epidiolex. 

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Epidiolex back on June 25, 2018. Since this time, the medicine has become a number one choice among children aged two and above with Dravet syndrome or Lennox-gastaut syndrome — two rare types of epilepsy. CBD’s suitability among the younger population suggests that this plant-derived chemical could also be effective at treating vulnerable COVID-19 patients in various age groups.

Based on hospital reports of coronavirus patients, the virus causes severe inflammation when it attacks the lungs. Recent reports also claim that children may now be at risk of a serious coronavirus-related inflammatory syndrome, proving the importance of finding a treatment to relieve the symptoms of this deadly disease in patients young and old.  

This is a novel approach to treating some of the symptoms, using a component of the cannabis plant that is considered safe and non-addictive,” according to Ichilov hospital’s head of Coronavirus management, Dr. Barak Cohen. 

The senior anesthesiologist made a point of noting that the study is not being carried out in affiliation with any other company; this investigation into the therapeutic benefits of using CBD for COVID-19 patients is being initiated by the Tel Aviv-based hospital.

Previous studies have explored the anti-inflammatory effects of CBD

Although the results of Ichilov hospital’s study on CBD for COVID-19 are yet to be published, previous research has highlighted the benefits of this non-psychoactive cannabinoid’s efficacy as a natural-inflammatory.

For example, a study that was conducted at the ICM Institute and published in the Journal Glia successfully demonstrated how CBD can suppress immune cell activity in various inflammatory states. Another study published in 2018 claimed that the non-psychotropic cannabinoid can “exert an anti-inflammation effect without any evident high-brain-center psychoactive effects.” 

Combined, these studies – and, hopefully the Israeli cannabis study – provide scientists/doctors with hope that CBD may be a useful aid in relieving the inflammatory responses caused by COVID-19. However, the cannabinoid cannot be hailed as a cure. Well, not until the results of Ichilov hospital’s study are published, that is. It’s also worth noting that a second study on COVID-19 is now being initiated by Israeli company Stero Biotechs.