Big Pharma is eager to cash in on the coronavirus crisis. But so far, few of their products have proven useful in treating COVID-19.
The antiviral drug remdesivir, the steroid medication dexamethasone, and monoclonal antibodies have helped some patients. But these drugs are far from cures. In many patients, they just don’t work. In others, the side effects are so bad that patients have to stop using them.
New studies show there may be better options.
In recent months, promising research has found that two natural supplements show potential in the fight against COVID-19.
CBD may help reduce the cytokine storm and excessive lung inflammation that is killing many COVID-19 patients. And the sleep aid melatonin may protect against coronavirus infection.
We’ll tell you about the CBD findings first…
Dr. Jack Yu is co-author of an animal study conducted at Augusta University in Georgia that looked at how CBD (cannabidiol) affects lung function.
“Our laboratory studies indicate pure CBD can help the lungs recover from the overwhelming inflammation, or cytokine storm, caused by COVID-19 and restore healthier oxygen levels to the body,” he said.
Dr. Yu and his colleagues tested CBD in mice with lung inflammation. The animals were given CBD at around the same stage of severity that a human would begin to experience breathing trouble and likely seek medical care.
CBD quickly improved symptoms. Lung damage, such as scarring and swelling that is typically seen in COVID-19 patients, totally or partially healed.
The study found that CBD reduces levels of IL-6, an inflammatory molecule that is an important factor in cytokine storms.
Dr. Babak Baban, who led the study, said the results show that CBD “could be a powerful tool in treating acute respiratory distress syndrome,” which is another name for cytokine storm.
He notes that CBD is also linked to inflammation reduction in other conditions such as arthritis and neuropathy.
The study concludes: “CBD may be used as a therapeutic candidate in the treatment of various inflammatory conditions, including COVID-19.”
Melatonin May Prevent COVID Infection, Study Finds
Melatonin could do more than help you get a good night’s sleep. A recent Cleveland Clinic study found that the bedtime supplement may be a viable option to help prevent COVID-19.
Researchers found that people taking it had a 28% lower risk of testing positive for coronavirus. For African Americans, the benefits were even greater. Taking melatonin cut their chance of testing positive by 52%.
Melatonin is a hormone produced by your pineal gland. It is located in your brain. The pineal gland makes melatonin in response to darkness, which triggers sleep.
Researchers don’t know exactly how melatonin fights coronavirus. But they point out that many studies have found that getting enough sleep is crucial for proper immune function.
Dr. Leonard Calabrese is an osteopathic physician with Cleveland Clinic. “Research shows that people who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus,” he said. “Lack of sleep can also slow your recovery if you do get sick.”
One striking illustration was a study in which scientists exposed subjects to a cold virus. Those who slept less than six hours a night during the previous week were four times more likely to catch the virus than those who slept eight hours a night.
“Evidence overwhelmingly supports that our immune response is suppressed when we are sleep deprived,” Dr. Calabrese said.
Both melatonin and CBD are considered safe. With melatonin, some people have mild side effects such as headaches, dizziness, or nausea. CBD may cause dry mouth, dizziness, or changes in appetite. 
The COVID research on CBD and melatonin is preliminary. Be sure to check with your doctor before taking any supplement for coronavirus.
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