Breaking: CBD Prevents COVID-19
In Recent Studies Suggest
Even those relatively new to the world of hemp-derived CBD products will likely know that CBD oils, gummies, and other products may provide some significant benefits. Research has shown that they may help reduce stress and anxiety, assist with sleep, ease pain and inflammation, and more.
Recently, two studies have learned hemp compounds may also fight COVID-19. Both of these studies discovered that two compounds, in particular, may prevent or provide treatment for COVID-19 infections. Let’s take a closer look.
The Oregon Study
The first study, published in the Journal of Natural Medicine, found that compounds in the hemp plant may keep the virus that causes COVID-19 from entering human cells (1).
In a collaboration between the Oregon Health and Sciences University and Oregon State University, scientists used specialized screening techniques to learn that two specific compounds — cannabidiolic acid (CBDa) and cannabigerolic acid (CBGa) — actually bind to the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. This disrupts the virus’s ability to infect people.
What’s more, the study found that CBDa and CBGa were equally effective against variants of SARS-CoV-2, including the alpha and beta variants.
How It Works
Attachment is the first stage of the infection and replication cycle. In the case of SARS-CoV-2, spike proteins bind with human cell ACE2 receptors. That binding is a critical part of the process, and the Oregon study demonstrates that CBDa and CBGa may disrupt it.
According to the findings, CBDa and CBGa bind to the spike proteins of SARS-CoV-2. That keeps the proteins from binding to the ACE2 enzymes abundant on the cells of the lungs. In short, the acids prevent entry to the cell, which could help to prevent COVID-19.
While promising, the research was in vitro. In other words, scientists performed the study on cells outside of the human body. We will need to see research with actual people. Additionally, CBDa and CBGa don’t typically exist in the hemp products on store shelves. They’re precursors to CBD and CBG. Most methods of processing hemp expose the compounds to heat, which converts them from acids to the active forms of their proceeding cannabinoids.
Finally, there are several variants of COVID-19. The Oregon study only looked at the effectiveness of CBDa and CBGa against two of those variants. Without more research, we don’t yet know if the acids will be effective against others.
University of Chicago Study
Shortly after the Oregon study, the University of Chicago published a study in Science Advances (2). The team of scientists, who previously published a study showing epilepsy patients taking Expidolex were less likely to contract COVID-19, aimed to see how CBD affected the immune system.
Their CBD and COVID research found that CBD could inhibit viral replication within cells.
CBD for COVID-19: The Research
To see CBD’s impact on the immune system, the team of researchers treated human lung cells with CBD two hours before exposing them to the COVID-19 virus. As they monitored the cells for the virus and viral spike proteins, they discovered that CBD (above a certain threshold) inhibited COVID’s ability to replicate. They also found that it was effective on not only the original strain but three variants, too.
Something of note from this study was that scientists didn’t find CBD effective for blocking the virus’ ability to enter cells. However, CBD did appear to be effective in blocking viral replication.
The University of Chicago research team also took a look at the effectiveness of CBD for blocking viral replication in mice. After treating the mice with CBD for a week, they found that CBD was able to suppress COVID-19 infections in both the lungs and noses of the animals.
While this research on live mice had similar results to the study on human lung cells, scientists say more data is necessary to determine if CBD could be a preventative or early treatment for COVID-19.
The team of researchers also pointed out that their results were for high-purity CBD in high concentrations. They caution that over-the-counter CBD products might not have the same effects. However, their findings are promising. Clinical trials could provide more insight.
CBDa and CBGa: Hemp Compounds Found to Fight COVID-19
CBDa and CBGa are typically lesser-known cannabinoids than, say, CBD. The studies outlined above demonstrate that they could potentially help prevent or treat COVID-19 infections, but that’s not all they may be able to do.
What Is CBGa?
CBGa carries the nickname “mother of all cannabinoids.” It’s the acidic cannabinoid from which all other cannabinoids are born.
It’s much more prevalent in younger plants. As hemp matures, different enzymes cause it to transform into CBDa, THCa, CBCa, and more. Heat and light exposure also trigger the transformation of CBGa into CBG. Because of all these reactions, mature hemp plants have much less CBGa than younger ones.
Benefits of CBGa
Research shows that CBGa is a cannabinoid with a lot of potential. It may:
- Reduce nitric oxide production as well as inflammation and the formation of free radicals in the intestines
- Treat diabetic complications such as cardiovascular disease
What Is CBDa?
CBDa is one of the acidic cannabinoids that comes from CBGa. It’s formed when the enzyme cannabidiolic acid synthase (CBDAS) acts on CBGa. When exposed to heat and light, it drops the acid group and becomes CBD.
Benefits of CBDa
CBDa shares some benefits with CBD, but it has some of its own as well. They include:
- Anti-inflammatory properties
- Easing nausea and vomiting
- Reducing anxiety
What CBD and COVID-19 Studies Could Mean for the Industry
These recent studies demonstrate the continued potential of CBD. Valuable cannabinoids, including CBDa and CBGa, may help to prevent or even treat COVID-19 infections. While they aren’t definitive, they could pave the way for clinical trials to determine more concrete answers.
For now, scientists warn not to self-treat with over-the-counter CBD products. While high-quality CBD products may be a good addition to an overall wellness routine, we don’t yet know how, for example, CBD oil and COVID-19 interact. As such, you should continue to protect yourself in ways that we know work. With more research and data, we will get a fuller picture on the effects of hemp compounds on COVID-19.
- van Breemen, R. B., Muchiri, R. N., Bates, T. A., Weinstein, J. B., Leier, H. C., Farley, S., & Tafesse, F. G. (2022). Cannabinoids Block Cellular Entry of SARS-CoV-2 and the Emerging Variants. Journal of natural products, 85(1), 176–184. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.jnatprod.1c00946
- Nguyen, L., Yang, D., Nicolaescu, V., Best, T.J., Gula, H., Saxena, D., Gabbard, J.D., Chen, S., Ohtsuki, T., Friesen, J.B., Drayman, N., Mohamed, A., Dann, C., Silva, D., Robinson-Mailman, L., Valdespino, A., Stock, L., Suárez, E., Jones, K., … Rosner, M.R. (2022). Cannabidol inhibits SARS-CoV-2 replication through induction of the host ER stress response and innate immune responses. Science Advances. https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/sciadv.abi6110