COVID-19 Prevention and Treatment Using Cannabis
News on how cannabis can prevent COVID has been making its way across popular media. With exciting headlines about the two, you may be tempted to light up some cannabis flower or indulge in an extra CBD gummy or two. While these things are great, there is more to consider when addressing how cannabis can prevent infection by the COVID-19 virus. In this post we will go over recent research and how you can apply this information to your life.
OSU research: CBGA and CBDA prevents virus from entering body
Scientists from Oregon State University published a study earlier this month on how certain cannabinoids can prevent COVID from entering the body. The two cannabinoids that they describe are cannabigerolic acid (CBGA) and cannabidiolic acid (CBDA). These acids are able to prevent the COVID-19 virus from entering the body by binding to the virus's spike proteins. Additionally, CBGA and CBDA were able to block Alpha and Beta variants of the virus. There is hope that they will also help protect against emerging variants as well.
While this is exciting news, this has not yet been tested on humans or animals. Instead, CBGA and CBDA were tested against COVID in a computer model and later in petri dishes. In the petri dishes, COVID-19 was mixed with either CBGA, CBDA or a neutral control. CBGA and CBDA samples did prove to slow the growth of the COVID-19 virus.
What are CBDA and CBGA?
CBDA and CBGA are cannabinoids found in hemp, the type of cannabis plant grown for its fiber and used to produce CBD. While many of us are familiar with CBD products, they do not contain the same chemical. It is important to note that CBDA and CBGA are acids only found in raw material coming from hemp.
When the hemp is heated or dried to be made into products it creates CBD and CBG. Decarboxylation is the chemical change responsible for this difference. In short, the CBD we are familiar with started out as CBDA in the plant but lost its acidity.
CBDA has the potential for many medical applications, but because it turns to CBD so easily, it is difficult to use. With that being said, there are still products available.
Where can you get CBDA and CBGA?
Since CBDA and CBGA are unstable compounds, there are only a few options available for products that contain them. Raw cannabis juice and tinctures would be the best way to absorb CBDA and CBGA. Topical creams may contain them as well.
When looking for a high quality product, it is important to remember the certificate of analysis (COA). COAs provide a breakdown of the cannabinoids present and provide safety information to show that the product does not contain harmful ingredients like pesticides, microbes, heavy metals or solvents. Any reputable retailer will be able to provide a COA to prove their product contains what it should.
University of Chicago Research: CBD stops virus replication
Research coming from the University of Chicago claims the Cannabidiol (CBD) has the potential to block the COVID-19 virus from replicating in lung epithelial cells. An article from uchicago news addresses the paper's findings and spoke to one of the senior authors. They state that authors decided to research how CBD can help the body's immune response to COVID. They thought that CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties could aid the body’s immune response. While CBD doesn’t prevent COVID, it does slow its replication once it is inside the body. CBD was able to block replication six hours after cells were infected with the virus.
CBD was tested on mice and in human cells. It is important to note that the CBD used was of very high concentration and purity. It is hard to say whether commercially available CBD products meet the same level of concentration, purity and consistency. Human trials are the next step in developing a product with CBD to be used as an antiviral.
University of Sao Paulo: CBD as COVID Treatment
So far we have addressed research being done on CBD as a way to stop COVID-19 from entering the body and to stop it from replicating. The next question to consider is whether CBD can be used as a treatment for an active infection from COVID-19. Ribeirão Preto Medical School in the University of São Paulo has done a clinical trial on CBD as a treatment for COVID-19.
The scientists at Ribeirão Preto Medical School were interested in seeing if the anti-inflammatory properties of CBD would help alongside other COVID-19 treatments. To collect participants, they recruited volunteers in an emergency room who had mild to moderate COVD-19 symptoms. This resulted in 91 participants analyzed for the study. 49 patients belonged to the CBD test group and 41 were given a placebo.
300mg of CBD was administered to the test group daily for 14 days. Results were assessed on 14 days, 21 days and 28 days. By the end of the 28 day assessment period, the patients receiving CBD were no better off. At that point the CBD group had 83.3% who had resolved their symptoms compared to 90.2% recovery for the placebo group.
CBD failed to make any changes to COVID-19 treatment. This may be due to the fact that the patients had low inflammation levels with their mild to moderate symptoms. The paper's discussion also points out how CBD is dose-dependent and a uniform dose was used across all participants.
High doses may be necessary to show results and could be more effective in people with more severe symptoms. As of October 2021 when the paper was released online, it was the first of its kind. As always, more research is needed on the topic.
Based on recent research, there is promise that cannabis/cannabinoids have the potential to help with COVID-19 prevention. However, a lot of what we know is based on models and experiments done in labs and not on live subjects. Animal and human trials of cannabinoid treatments are the nexts steps to better understanding. Let’s recap some of the biggest takeaways from the research mentioned above:
- CBGA and CBDA are cannabinoids found in raw cannabis and have shown to block COVID-19 from entering the body. This is based on computer modeling and lab experiments but not live subjects. CBGA and CBDA are unstable and difficult to make into raw products but can be absorbed from raw cannabis juice and tinctures.
- CBD can prevent the COVID-19 virus from replicating in cell samples and in mice but this application has not been tested on humans.
- CBD has been tested as a treatment for COVID-19 but did not prove to improve treatment results compared to a placebo. However, this may be attributed to the disease severity or does dependency.
My name is Amber. I am a cannabinoid consultant and columnist for Happy Trails. I have a Bachelor of Science in Biology. I enjoy learning about things I have passion for, and my family lovingly calls me a “human encyclopedia”. Read more about Amber here.
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