While the majority of COVID-related news is depressing (to say the least), a new study published in the Journal of Natural Products uncovered a ray of hope — a component found in living cannabis plants may help protect human cells from coronavirus infections. According to this new research, two acids contained in hemp, cannabigerolic acid (CBGA), and cannabidiolic acid (CBDA), were able to suppress COVID infections by binding to the SARS-Cov-2 virus’s spike protein.
Dr Richard van Breemen, lead author of the research explains:
“Any part of the infection and replication cycle is a potential target for antiviral intervention, and the connection of the spike protein’s receptor-binding domain to the human cell surface receptor ACE2 is a critical step in that cycle.” He continued: “that means cell entry inhibitors, like the acids from hemp, could be used to prevent SARS-CoV-2 infection and also to shorten infections by preventing virus particles from infecting human cells.”
Unfortunately, for stoners, these findings do not imply that consuming or smoking marijuana protects against COVID. Instead, you’d have to take these hemp components by mouth, most likely as a tablet or a drink. The cannabinoid acids are abundant in hemp (and in many hemp extracts), but they’re not controlled substances like THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.
The research goes on to suggest that these acids could actually be used to combat the different variants of COVID-19. In fact, the hemp compounds were equally effective against variants of SARS–CoV–2, including variant B.1.1.7, which was first detected in the United Kingdom.
While the findings of this study are intriguing, experts warn against treating cannabis as if it were a “wonder pill” for COVID protection. Dr. Michael Lewis, MD, MPH, MBA, and board-certified physician explains: “While the study is promising, it’s too early to make any definitive claims. The study conducted was a cell culture experiment. If the research were to ever get to the point where we can use it freely, it would have to go through animal studies as well as human trials, so we still have a long way to go.”
The study also implies that tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) may work in a similar way to COVID-19 prevention. Because THC is not completely legalized in the United States, researchers were only able to look at the effects of CBDA and CBGA, which are legal. CBD and other cannabinoids can help people with certain health issues since CBD consumers report using it for stress and anxiety, to treat aches and pains, and to support sleep.
We hope to find out more on this in the future, but for now, we can’t help but be a little excited about the benefits of cannabis when it comes to combating COVID-19 infection.
Photo source: Forbes