One way cannabidiol (CBD) appears to reduce the "cytokine storm" that damages the lungs and kills many patients with COVID-19 is by enabling an increase in levels of a natural peptide called apelin, which is known to reduce inflammation and whose levels are dramatically reduced in the face of this storm. [Editor’s Note: Cannabidiol (CBD) is an active ingredient in cannabis derived from the hemp plant.] This summer, Dental College of Georgia (DCG) and Medical College of Georgia (MCG) researchers reported CBD's ability to improve oxygen levels and reduce inflammation as well as physical lung damage in their laboratory model of deadly adult respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). Now, these scientists have shown that apelin levels go way down with the viral infection, which has killed 1 million people worldwide, and that CBD quickly helps normalize those levels along with lung function. "It was dramatic in both directions," says Dr. Babak Baban (left in photo), DCG Immunologist and Associate Dean for Research, of shifting apelin levels in both circulating blood and lung tissue. Blood levels of the peptide dropped close to zero in their ARDS model and increased 20 times with CBD, they report in an article published online on October 15, 2020 in the Journal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine. The open-access article is titled “Cannabidiol (CBD) Modulation of Apelin in Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome.” "CBD almost brought it back to a normal level," said Dr. Jack Yu (right in photo), physician-scientist and Chief of Pediatric Plastic Surgery at MCG, commenting on the apparent first connection between CBD and apelin. Apelin is a pervasive peptide made by cells in the heart, lung, brain, fat tissue, and blood, and is an important regulator in bringing both blood pressure and inflammation down, says Dr. Baban, the study's corresponding author.
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