The potential of cannabidiol in the COVID-19 pandemic

Br J Pharmacol. 2020 Nov;177(21):4967-4970. doi: 10.1111/bph.15157. Epub 2020 Jul 16.


Identifying drugs effective in the new coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is crucial, pending a vaccine against SARS-CoV2. We suggest the hypothesis that cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychotropic phytocannabinoid, has the potential to limit the severity and progression of the disease for several reasons:- (a) High-cannabidiol Cannabis sativa extracts are able to down-regulate the expression of the two key receptors for SARS-CoV2 in several models of human epithelia, (b) cannabidiol exerts a wide range of immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory effects and it can mitigate the uncontrolled cytokine production responsible for acute lung injury, (c) being a PPARγ agonist, it can display a direct antiviral activity and (d) PPARγ agonists are regulators of fibroblast/myofibroblast activation and can inhibit the development of pulmonary fibrosis, thus ameliorating lung function in recovered patients. We hope our hypothesis, corroborated by preclinical evidence, will inspire further targeted studies to test cannabidiol as a support drug against the COVID-19 pandemic. LINKED ARTICLES: This article is part of a themed issue on The Pharmacology of COVID-19. To view the other articles in this section visit

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Betacoronavirus / drug effects
  • Betacoronavirus / isolation & purification
  • COVID-19
  • COVID-19 Drug Treatment
  • Cannabidiol / administration & dosage*
  • Cannabidiol / isolation & purification
  • Cannabidiol / pharmacology
  • Cannabis / chemistry
  • Coronavirus Infections / drug therapy*
  • Coronavirus Infections / virology
  • Disease Progression
  • Humans
  • Pandemics
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology
  • Pneumonia, Viral / drug therapy*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / virology
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Severity of Illness Index


  • Plant Extracts
  • Cannabidiol