In the year 2020 we’ve found ourselves caught up in a global pandemic unlike the world has seen in 100 years. People are scared of the coronavirus called COVID-19, yet curious about what they can do to better protect themselves and their families from it as it makes its way through most countries and populations. There is no vaccine for COVID-19 and this has left many doing their own research for medications and natural remedies that might be able to aid in the fight against this virus. Understandably this has led some to question how effective cannabinoids — specifically CBD — are when it comes to protecting them from this or any coronavirus, or fighting off the infection if they happen to catch it. CBD research is still in its early stages, so in this article we want to discuss what current research has shown about CBD and its impact on infections, and whether or not it can be helpful as a preventative measure against viral infections.

Cannabinoids For Infections

Current research has shown that cannabinoids can be powerful antimicrobials, suggesting that they are agents that can kill microorganisms or stop them from growing 1. Antibiotics and antifungals are well known and commonly used antimicrobials, however research has also shown CBD to be helpful against certain types of infections. We’ll discuss those in more detail below.

Cannabinoids For Bacterial Infections

In the 1950s researchers studied cannabis as a potential treatment for tuberculosis and other diseases [2], however the research hit roadblocks as cannabis became more heavily regulated and was eventually classified as a Schedule 1 drug. More recently, studies have found cannabinoids – the chemical compounds found inside cannabis — to be useful for treating MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) in humans. MRSA is a bacteria known for being difficult to treat and for being unresponsive to many antibiotics. MRSA can often result in death for individuals with weakened immune systems or compromised health.

A study by scientists in Italy and the United Kingdom found that by applying extracted cannabinoids to bacterial cultures from six different strains of MRSA, the cannabinoid compounds successfully killed the Super bugs. In fact, it was just as helpful as the most popular and potent antibiotics that are commonly prescribed for the treatment of MRSA.

The researchers tested five specific cannabinoids and found the two that were the most powerful were also non-psychoactive, meaning they can be extracted from a hemp plant instead of a marijuana plant. Since marijuana is still considered illegal in many places, being able to harvest these beneficial cannabinoids from the legal hemp plant means the access to cannabinoid therapy could be easier and more affordable for those who would be otherwise unable to obtain it [3].

Cannabinoids For Fungal Infections

Fungal infections are often extremely uncomfortable and sometimes embarrassing for those suffering from them. They normally occur on the skin or within the body and frequently overwhelm the immune system. Usually antifungal medications are prescribed, including those with steroid properties. In an attempt to search for alternative treatments or to avoid steroids altogether, people have turned their attention to cannabinoids as a more natural remedy.

Researchers have found that some cannabinoids have moderate antifungal properties, specifically three types of cannabinoids [4]. Much like the cannabinoids used for bacterial infections, these three cannabinoids don’t cause the user to feel intoxicated. They naturally boost the effects of a specific type of oxide inside our bodies, which in turn works as an extremely powerful antifungal.

Cannabinoids For Viral Infections

With compelling evidence that cannabinoids can work for bacterial and fungal infections, some are rushing to conclusions about what that means for its usefulness against viral infections. It’s important to remember that just because they might be successful against certain types of bacteria and fungus, does not mean they will be useful against viruses.

There are currently very few studies about the effectiveness of cannabinoids and viral infections. The only such study that exists at this time is related to using cannabidiol (CBD) to treat viral hepatitis. The research shows that while CBD doesn’t seem to have any effect on hepatitis B, it was shown to actively assist in treating hepatitis C. This is especially important since hepatitis B has a vaccine and hepatitis C does not. Since there is no vaccine for hepatitis C and it has shown resistance to drugs, treatment can be costly. Even though the research is only just beginning on using CBD to help treat hepatitis C, the possibility of it being a beneficial treatment could open a lot of doors for those who suffer [5].

CBD For Stress and Anxiety

These are troubling times. That much we know to be true. The world is worried right now and that can have repercussions on our health. In response to this outbreak, the CDC has published an article highlighting the damage that stress can have in our lives and in our bodies. In this guide they note that stress can lead to the worsening of chronic health problems [6].

Stress can do a lot of damage to our bodies. In a time when we need to focus on maintaining our overall well-being, suffering from stress can be exceedingly dangerous. Stress can cause a person to have headaches, stomach problems, or trouble sleeping. Someone suffering from stress might turn to drugs, alcohol, or unhealthy eating habits. Many can feel fatigued, sad, or overwhelmed when stress consumes them. These behaviors are damaging to our immune system and can make us more susceptible to viral infections [7].

Likewise, there are many who suffer from chronic anxiety, and now those who are feeling newly anxious as the pandemic becomes part of our daily lives. Since so many of the same symptoms of stress show themselves in those who are suffering from anxiety, researchers believe there might also be a connection between anxiety and our immune systems [8]. The research is still ongoing and there haven’t been any solid conclusions at this point, however with such terrifying symptoms associated with feelings of anxiety, relief from it could be very important to those who suffer. This is especially true during these trying times.

CBD has been heavily researched and reported for its value in the treatment of stress and anxiety in both animals and humans. It is effective in reducing both the behavioral and physiological aspects of stress and anxiety, meaning it can help to calm the mind when it won’t stop running, and the heart when it won’t stop pounding [9]. During a time when so many stressful events are happening on an almost daily basis, gaining control over our stress level is important and could mean a healthier immune system.

Will CBD Protect Me From Viruses?

In a word? No. The research is still ongoing and no solid conclusions have been drawn yet. In regards to the COVID-19 virus, there is no vaccine or known cure for it. There are no known medicinal or therapeutic preventative measures. The best line of defense is maintaining social distance and doing your absolute best to keep yourself healthy. This can mean eating healthier foods, exercising, and managing your stress levels.

Experts have already warned the public about outlandish claims by those declaring they have some sort of miracle cure for COVID-19, which includes claims that cannabis or CBD are cures for the virus [10]. Unfortunately there are always people who will prey on others during hard times, and right now we need to be diligent about making sure we have all the facts and finding treatment plans that can work for us without someone else pushing it on us.

So while CBD has been shown to be powerful in the fight against stress and anxiety, there is no proof showing it has any effect on most viruses. If you find yourself struggling with stress or anxiety during this troubling time, perhaps CBD has a place in your life. The effects stress has on your body can be immensely damaging and could potentially make you more susceptible to infections. Getting a handle on that stress before it causes harm is just another tool in your toolbox when it comes to fighting off any viral infection, including COVID-19.