What is Influenza?
Influenza is the medical term that is commonly used by physicians to describe the flu. The flu is a highly contagious respiratory illness that is caused by certain viruses that target the nose, throat, or respiratory tract (either the lungs or the airways). Most cases usually recover within a period of 2 weeks following the infection; however, in certain cases, patients develop serious complications that can lead to hospitalization, significant morbidity, and death.
According to recent statistics published by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), around 9 to 45 million individuals develop influenza each year in the United States. And, each year, around 10 thousand people die from influenza complications.
In comparison to the common cold, which occurs gradually, the flu or influenza occurs all of a sudden. The symptoms of influenza vary and, oftentimes, are non-specific, including:
- Sore throat
- Fatigue and muscle ache
- Cough either productive or non-productive
- Elevated body temperature or fever
- Stuffy or runny nose
- Diarrhea and vomiting, particularly in young-aged people
Influenza can affect all ages; however, the probability of getting influenza becomes higher with each year increase in age. Therefore, elderly populations are at a significantly greater risk of developing life-threatening complications.
It should be noted that influenza is not caused by a single virus. Instead, influenza can be caused by a wide variety of viruses that share common characteristics. That is the reason why even vaccinated people can still develop influenza. In fact, the vaccine is given based on the treating physician’s most probable diagnosis. And, when a vaccinated person becomes exposed to another virus of a different strain, the vaccine becomes of minimal or no efficacy at all
Our users find CBD useful for the treatment of Influenza :
Cannabinoids and Viral Infections
Cannabinoids exist in two forms: phytocannabinoids, which are derived from marijuana, and endocannabinoids, which normally exist in our bodies in a system known as the endocannabinoid system. This system includes the corporation of various components, including endocannabinoids (such as anandamide), cannabinoid receptors type 1 (CB1) and type 2 (CB2), and some enzymes. The endocannabinoid system is well-known for its highly important role in regulating the normal physiological processes in our body, including sleep, pain perception, inflammation, psychological well-being, and many others. CB1 receptors are majorly expressed in the central nervous system (the brain and the spinal cord), while CB2 receptors are expressed mainly on the cell of the immune system, which mediate inflammation in the majority of viral infections.
In addition, cannabinoids, particularly cannabidiol (CBD), have received much attention due to their therapeutic effects in treating many medical conditions, including pain, chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting in cancer patients, drug-resistant epilepsy or seizure, and so on. The many medical applications of CBD and other cannabinoids are related to their anti-inflammatory properties.
However, when talking about the use of cannabinoids in viral infections or influenza, the use of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the most abundant component in hemp, can exacerbate influenza in THC users, leading to the occurrence of acute viral infection and possibly serious complications. This occurs due to the negative impact of THC on the host immune response towards viral infections. Therefore, CBD is thoroughly studied for its potential effectiveness in influenza.
CBD is known as one of the main cannabinoids in marijuana, and unlike THC, it does not have any psychoactive properties. CBD has been widely investigated for its promising effects in treating many conditions. Furthermore, CBD has gained approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to be used as an alternative anti-epileptic drug in patients with drug-resistant epilepsy. Since then, researchers have begun to do more research on the therapeutic applications for CBD in a wide variety of diseases, including influenza.
Can CBD Alleviate the Symptoms of Influenza?
Unfortunately, a limited body of evidence exists regarding the role of CBD in alleviating the symptoms of influenza, even though several plant-derived compounds have been shown to have potent antiviral effects based on their structures. The majority of these compounds have evolved to become potent antiviral or antimicrobial agents.
One of the effects of CBD include the induction of apoptosis in mammalian cells, and this has been shown to be of great importance in treating viral infections because apoptosis is a critical component of the host immune response towards influenza.
A recent systematic review included blogs and discussion forums that discussed the uses of CBD in viral infections. It was noted that many claims were directed towards the beneficial effects of CBD in the treatment of shingles. The participants’ responses included that CBD can effectively alleviate pain and the associated inflammation in influenza or viral infections. It should also be noted that CBD was used in different forms, and therefore, the effectiveness of CBD in treating the associated symptoms of influenza might be related to the route of administration.
Noteworthy, the claims of CBD’s effectiveness in treating influenza or alleviating its associated symptoms are not supported by high-quality evidence in humans. And, the basis on which CBD was recommended to be used as an antiviral agent is because of its anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. Although these claims might become supported in the near future, CBD use in influenza is supported by low-quality evidence, and till more evidence has emerged, a physician should be consulted prior to its use in influenza.
Substantial evidence supports the properties of CBD in alleviating pain and in reducing inflammation, which is the critical component in viral infections and influenza. Because of that, CBD has been suggested to be a potential option for treating viral infections and for alleviating their associated symptoms. However, these claims are not supported by randomized placebo-controlled clinical trials in humans. Therefore, it is recommended not to use CBD without consulting the treating physician first.
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