In this article, integrative medicine expert, Dr Dani Gordon, answers peoples’ question of whether cannabis and CBD can affect contracting or recovering from COVID-19, or coronavirus.
The biggest question I’m getting asked is around how CBD and medical cannabis may affect contracting or recovering from coronavirus, and about what else we can do to stay well.
People are asking if cannabis and CBD can help buffer the immune system against getting COVID-19 in the first place, and if you do get it, can CBD and cannabis help treat it? What about the possibility that NSAID anti-inflammatory drugs may have a negative effect on the virus once you are infected and wait a —minute – CBD is an anti-inflammatory too, so what does that mean for CBD?
These are all valid questions and so far, even in terms of the anti-inflammatory drugs and the effect on corona, it is still unclear what the relationship is, if there is one. Many doctors are still recommending sticking to Acetaminophen for the fever for now and avoiding NSAID over the counter drugs until we know more.
CBD, cannabis and coronavirus
As for CBD and cannabis, we don’t have any studies showing it has any effect on the coronavirus, although there are some interesting studies on medical cannabis and smoked cannabis use and HIV progression.
On Facebook and social media, many CBD and cannabis advocates are claiming that they boosted their immunity successfully against all viruses using the plant, and recommending others do the same.
As both a cannabis specialist and doctor trained in natural medicine and western medicine, it is important to let people know the facts and be totally honest about what we don’t know. It’s also critical not to make false claims when we are all understandably a bit scared, and of course want to do everything we can to protect ourselves and our loved ones.
The ‘miracle cure’ claims that some members of the natural wellness community can sometimes make, even when well-intentioned, can have harmful effects on people’s behaviour and also tarnish the industry as promoting ‘snake oils.’
This effect can distance our more ‘conventional’ medicine and research colleagues who are not well versed in botanical medicine, and hurt the progress plant medicine has made in recent years in gaining support and credibility through academic research and inquiry, partnering with the research and those physicians open-minded enough to consider them.
Plant medicines like CBD and medical cannabis do so many amazing things that there is no need to stretch the truth or make claims that cannot be backed up, at least not currently.
So, how can we support our immune systems?
Probably the best way we can support our immunity is avoiding alcohol, staying active while we stay home (dance parties in the living room anyone?) and taking up a simple relaxation or meditation practice to decrease stress hormones.
If you are into supplementing, you could consider adding some adaptogen mushrooms, along with liposomal glutathione (not a direct immune boost but may help support the liver).
Eating a diet rich in micronutrients, zinc, vitamin C, flavonoids like quercetin (in both cannabis and apples) and getting good sleep are all good things to start now if you haven’t already.
Melatonin, our sleep hormone made while we sleep can help healthy immune function too. Deep breathing practices and laughter may also have a positive effect on our immune systems too. So, you can feel like you have done something by putting on a funny film and having a good deep belly laugh to get those lungs working while you self-isolate.
Even if you do everything ‘right’ you may still end up getting coronavirus, but the good news is that most people not in high risk groups will have a mild illness course and recoup at home. Some carriers may not even have any symptoms at all or even know they had it, which is why social distancing is so important, since asymptomatic transmission rates are thought to be quite high with coronavirus.
Dr Dani Gordon MD, CCFP, ABOIM, ABIHM
UK Cannabis Medicine Specialist
US Integrative Medicine
Consulting & Training for Physicians