By now, we’ve all seen the late night TV clips or viral tweets about cannabis "to the rescue" for COVID-19. When it comes to cannabis and COVID-19, smoking weed "isn't a good idea during a pandemic that affects the lungs," says Dr. Peter Grinspoon, orally-ingested products such as Multi-Canna Capsules which contain CBDA and CBGA just might be a game-changer by inhibiting the virus from infecting our cells.
A new study in the peer-reviewed Journal of Natural Products shows the compounds cannabigerolic acid (CBGA) and cannabidiolic acid (CBDA) can prevent the SARS-CoV-2 virus from infecting human cells. Researchers at Oregon State University and Oregon Health & Science University identified these two compounds using a mass spectrometry screening technique previously developed at OSU.
CBDA and CBDA can disrupt the COVID-19 virus’ ability to infect people by binding to the “spike protein,” an essential mechanism in how the coronavirus infects human cells. Once the hemp compounds bind to the spike protein, it can no longer bind itself to ACE2 enzymes on the surfaces of endothelial cells in our lungs and other organs. Current COVID-19 vaccines and antibody therapies target these same particles.
Image source: Journal of Natural Products.
"Any part of the infection and replication cycle is a potential target for antiviral intervention,” notes lead researcher Richard van Breemen, which means acids from hemp “could be used to prevent…and also to shorten infections by preventing virus particles from infecting human cells.” In terms of cannabis and COVID-19, CBDA and CBGA seem to be equally effective against the alpha variant (B.1.1.7) and beta variant (B.1.351) of the COVID-19 virus, according to the study results.
Hemp plants create CBDA and CBGA as precursors to CBD and CBG. Many commercially available hemp products contain CBD and CBG. However, only a few (such as the four-cannabinoid Multi-Canna Capsule from Korasana) contain the acids mentioned in this study. We need further testing in both animals and humans to fully measure their effectiveness against COVID-19, as Dr. Grinspoon of Harvard Medical School reminds us. Nonetheless, van Breemen has high hopes that combining CBDA/CBGA treatment with vaccination and other evidence-based measures might help us defeat the SARS-CoV-2 virus. So do we!