Brazil, one of the most hard-hit countries during this pandemic is bringing us some hopeful and beautiful news: the potential use of CBD to treat COVID-19 consequences on patients. CBD is a non-psychotropic cannabinoid that can boost an anti-inflammatory response, amongst other health benefits.
The Saõ Paulo University (USP) is about to begin phase 3 of a research on the use of medical cannabis in patients with long COVID-19 symptoms. According to Doctor Janet Diaz on this interview by the World Health Organization (WHO), long COVID is a condition of recovered COVID-19 patients that includes more than 200 symptoms that can last from three to nine months.
The coordinator of this research by the USP, Edimar Bocchi, is also a cardiologist at the Heart Institute (InCor). He had initially researched the benefits of cannabis for patients with heart failure. The new research will study the response of cannabidiol (CBD) on long COVID patients. Long COVID can provoke an exaggerated immune response that causes an imbalance in the production of proteins in the immune system. Edimar Bocchi calls this reaction an “inflammatory storm”.
CBD has already been successfully tested by the Heart Institute (InCor) as a palliative for conditions similar to some long COVID ones, such as post-cancer convalescence and chronic pain. This is one of the reasons why the research team is positive about the benefits of cannabis on long COVID treatment.
There is currently no other study in the world about CBD and long COVID, even if this condition has been considered a priority by the World Health Organization (WHO) by its high incidence.
The Brazilian Health Regulatory Agency (Avisa), had already approved a CBD product from the collaboration between Clever Leaves -a multi-national producer of medical cannabis products- and Verdemed -a Canadian and Latin American pharmaceutical cannabis company-. These new Brazilian studies on the effects of CBD on long COVID will be conducted in partnership with Verdemed.
COVID-19 is a systemic disease. This means that it infects several parts of the body. The effects of long COVID are consequently also systemic. From the about 200 symptoms of long COVID, the most common ones are:
These symptoms can persist from 90 days to 9 months after the infection. Persistent fatigue and difficulty to exercise has been reported in at least 62% of patients.
Aside form the socio-economic consequences of the pandemic itself, it is important to remind of the risks of preventive measures like isolation on mental health. There is a wave of loneliness derived from these measures, that can boost mental health conditions like anxiety and depression. This is why in case of long COVID conditions, Doctor Janet Diaz recommends seeking care through general practitioners but also through social care workers, psychosocial workers and mental health professionals.
While there is still no specific treatment for long COVID, this new study in Brazil on CBD effects on long COVID brings some hope. The coordinator of this study, cardiologist Bocchi, aims for a regulated immune response generated by CBD. This cannabinoid has proved effective as an anti-inflammatory in other studies and is currently being used on one third of Canadian cancer patients. It is also effective on the treatment of multiple sclerosis, chronic pain and epilepsy.
Other benefits of the use of CBD for long COVID are:
The Heart Institute (InCor) and Verdemed will be responsible for the research and production of the CBD products involved in this treatment, respectively.