Israeli researchers have confidence that CBD could relieve coronavirus symptoms

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Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

Three clinical trials have just been launched by a team of Israeli researchers; of whom are optimistic that CBD (cannabidiol) – a non-psychotropic element of the cannabis and hemp plants – can provide patients with therapeutic relief from the coronavirus (COVID-19).

Why this cannabinoid in particular? Aside from its diversity in the field of medicine and the fact it does not induce a “high” in consumers, CBD has been studied for its anti-inflammatory properties. This matters, because from what we know about COVID-19 so far, the respiratory virus causes major inflammation in various organs of the body. 

Israel plays an integral role in the global medical cannabis industry. After all, the birthplace of Jewish culture is home to Raphael Mechoulam – A.K.A. the “Godfather of Cannabis” – and has earned itself a reputation as one of the world’s hotspots for medical cannabis research. Most recently, the scientific spotlight has illuminated the COVID-19 pandemic –– a virus outbreak that has left scientists everywhere scratching their heads as to how they can cure patients from the deadly disease. 

How Raphael Mechoulam stimulated medical cannabis research in Israel

Medical cannabis use dates back to historic Hebrew civilizations. Evidence from thousands of years ago even suggests that the plant was also relied on by the ancient Chinese and Egyptians. Raphael Mechoulam essentially kick-started the medical cannabis revolution that has progressively proliferated across Israel; and many other places on the world map today. 

Back in the 1960s, the Israeli scientist was joined by Dr. Y. Shvo and Dr Y. Gaony. Together, they studied a batch of confiscated Lebanese hashish, which was made possible when a phone call was arranged by Mechoulam’s Administrative director at the Weizmann institute. The team were victorious in their efforts to isolate numerous cannabinoids and define their structure. Some time later, during the 1990’s, Mechoulam and a group of researchers identified Anandamide a fatty acid neurotransmitter that is renowned for suppressing cancer cell growth. 

Not only was Mechoulam responsible for uncovering new things about the cannabis plant but also, he managed to uncover the endocannabinoid system (ECS). This intricate system of receptors is naturally embedded within the bodies of every living mammal. It works similar to a “plug socket system cannabinoids bind/interact with receptors scattered around the brain and organs to trigger essential reactions. 

As a natural anti-inflammatory – confirmed in this study – CBD could be the key to assisting patients who endure lung inflammation caused by the coronavirus. Plus, as a naturally-occurring substance that does not cause mind-altering effects, CBD is absent of the paranoia that is sometimes associated with THC-dominant strains.

Lung experts say that cannabis consumers should take precautions amid coronavirus 

A collaboration between InnoCan Pharma and Tel Aviv University will see the Israeli scientists delve deep into the effects of CBD on COVID-19 patients. The joint effort was announced in mid-April, when the pharma company and the Israeli University explained how they would administer CBD-based medicines through membrane-bound extracellular vesicles that develop inside the endosomal compartment of eukaryotic cells.

These small cell structures – referred to as exosomes – are produced when stem cells multiply. According to the scientific research collaboration, exosomes will be used as “homing missiles.” The reason for this is because exosomes are capable of specifically targeting inflicted cell organs that have been damaged by the coronavirus. Because of its potential as a natural anti-inflammatory, the researchers feel confident that CBD can repair damaged cells through a synergistic effect.

The word ‘synergy’ was used by the scientists when explaining the process they will execute to potentially treat COVID-19 patients with CBD. Synergistic reactions occur when cannabinoids are combined with alternative cannabinoids, chemicals and other naturally-occurring compounds. For example, the psychoactivity of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) can be relieved when a consumer is administered with the non-psychoactive compound CBD, thus proving its synergistic potential. In other cases, the effects of cannabinoids can be amplified; depending on the specific type of ingredient being administered.

Since COVID-19 targets the respiratory system, an inhalation device will be used to provide diagnosed patients with CBD-enriched exosomes. However, the investigation could prove controversial, considering the implications that cannabis inhalation may have on patients who’ve been diagnosed with the contagious respiratory illness. On the other hand, previously-conducted studies have shown that CBD can reduce inflammation. 

Over the next few weeks, a second clinical trial will commence into the effects of CBD on COVID-19 patients. Specifically, 10 patients who have been diagnosed with the contagious virus will participate in the forthcoming study at Israel’s Rabin Medical Center. For this particular study, a combination of steroids and CBD will be offered to patients; doctors feel that CBD and steroids can work synergistically.

The trial – a collaboration between Stero Biotechs and the Mor Research Application – will progress to treat 40 patients if the results are positive.