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Cannabinoids in the fight against COVID-19

cannabinoids in the fight against COVID-19 Pentalium

The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approves the use of a synthetic cannabinoid called ARDS-003 to begin Phase 1 clinical trials. The molecule plays a direct role in acute respiratory distress syndrome, a respiratory failure with high prevalence in COVID-19 patients.

The process by which this syndrome occurs is that of an exaggerated response to pro-inflammatory mediators that affect the lung. These mediators known as cytokines are responsible for the normal inflammatory processes that must exist before any infection. However, a high presence of them can have dire consequences on the body, especially the one that occurs during COVID-19 infection.

Molecules of an anti-inflammatory nature

There are many candidate molecules to stop COVID-19 and its different manifestations. On the other hand, cannabinoids have been proposed in the specific treatment of ARDS, due to their natural anti-inflammatory nature.

This synthetic cannabinoid (ARDS-003), synthesized by the Canadian company Tetra Bio-Pharma, is a synthetic molecule that is not found naturally in the cannabis plant but is designed to act similarly to a phytocannabinoid.

Clinical evaluation of ARDS-003

ARDS-003 interacts with the endocannabinoid system by binding to type 2 cannabinoid receptors. As we have already seen, this receptor plays a decisive role in the regulation of the immune system. Everything indicates that this molecule can become a pharmaceutical asset of an interesting potential and activity in the modulation of the excessive immune response. And it seems that this is demonstrated by the preclinical studies already carried out.

While this does not prevent the spread of COVID-19, it can help the clinical manifestations of it, such as inflammation of the respiratory system.

As ARDS-003 enters Phase 1 clinical trials, researchers will be able to evaluate the protection offered by this molecule and its potential differences based on the subject’s age, ethnicity, and other conditions.

In the meantime, it should be remembered that there is still no definitive clinical evidence demonstrating the use of cannabinoids in the prevention or treatment of COVID-19. Further research is still needed


  1. Khodadadi H, et al. Cannabidiol modulates cytokine storm in acute respiratory distress syndrome induced by simulated viral infection using synthetic RNA. Cannabis Cannabinoid Res. 2020;5(3):197-201.

The Medical Cannabis Clinicians Society’s Guide To CBD

Cannabidiol, popularly known as CBD, has been a controversial topic in the clinical setting. The dark age of cannabis prohibition did much to hinder research. Consequently, the training of doctors has been null and void of the mechanisms of cannabinoid-based therapy.

Fortunately, things have taken a different turn and there is now emerging scientific evidence in this area. With the pace set, it’s time to get relevant (medical) stakeholders on board. And that’s exactly what an organization is doing.

The Medical Cannabis Clinicians Society in the UK provides a platform for doctors to share practical knowledge and spark conversations about medical cannabis. The society is made up of an independent network of doctors who offer consultations and treatments, as well as research in this area.

In its recently published guidelines, the society extensively explored CBD and provided recommendations for physicians. Below is a breakdown of the highlights.

In the UK, two cannabinoid-based drugs have been approved and licensed for use by the public: Sativex®, for the treatment of spasticity in multiple sclerosis, and Epidyolex®, a treatment for seizures. While the former has a formulation of 1:1 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) to CBD, the latter is 98% CBD.

As for the safety of CBD, the guideline cited a 2018 WHO report in which cbd was found to be “generally well tolerated with a good safety profile.” There is no evidence of CBD causing serious side effects or dependence.

As described in the guidelines, therapeutic benefits include the following properties:

  • Anticonvulsant
  • Analgesic
  • Antiinflammatory
  • Anxiety
  • Neuroprotective
  • Antipsychotic
  • Immunosuppressive

The strongest evidence of the therapeutic importance of CBD lies in the treatment of intractable childhood seizures.

CBD can be consumed through various methods and this affects how it is broken down and used in the body:

  • Oral
  • Submucosal
  • Intranasal
  • Vaping/inhalation
  • Topical

The response to CBD is individualized and is affected by age, tolerance, genetics, body fat percentage, and other factors. A low dose to start is considered 10mg a day; this can be gradually increased over four weeks to 60mg.

Since CBD is excreted through the kidneys, those with kidney failure should be monitored and liver function should also be checked if they are taking a very high dose. Therefore, patients with hepatic or renal impairment may need to start with a lower dose.

CBD also interacts with some medications that are metabolized through the cytochrome P450 pathway, such as some anticonvulsants, antibiotics, antifungals, anticoagulants, antacids, heart medications, and St. John’s wort.

Common side effects found in high-dose clinical trials of CBD include drowsiness, decreased appetite, and diarrhea.

The guidelines also provide a good list of questions for patients to consider when purchasing CBD products.

We encourage both patients and doctors to review this guide to help in conversations about CBD and to learn more about this growing and popular therapeutic option.

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