Cannabis compounds can prevent COVID-19 infection: study

Jan 13 2022, 7:23 pm

Cannabis compounds have shown the ability to prevent the virus that causes COVID-19 from entering human cells, a study found.

Titled “Cannabinoids Block Cellular Entry of SARS-CoV-2 and the Emerging Variants,” the research was published in the Journal of Natural Products on Monday.

The study found that a pair of cannabinoid acids commonly found in hemp can bind to the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, blocking an important step in the process the virus takes to infect people.

“Orally bioavailable and with a long history of safe human use, these cannabinoids, isolated or in hemp extracts, have the potential to prevent as well as treat infection by SARS-CoV-2,” reads the abstract.

Led by Richard van Breeman out of Oregon State University’s Global Hemp Innovation Centre, the specific compounds they found are cannabigerolic acid (CBGA) and cannabidiolic acid (CBDA). The spike protein is the same targeted by COVID-19 vaccines.

“These cannabinoid acids are abundant in hemp and in many hemp extracts,” van Breemen said in a news release. “They are not controlled substances like THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, and have a good safety profile in humans.”

Van Breeman and his collaborators also found that the compounds work against other COVID-19 variants.

“Our research showed 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, and variant B.1.351, first detected in South Africa,” he added.

The team of researchers were able to identify the two cannabinoid acids through a mass spectrometry-based screening technique invented in van Breemen’s lab, according to Oregon State University.

They screened a range of botanicals used in dietary supplements including red clover, wild yam, hops and three species of licorice, and tailored the method to finding drugs that would target the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein.

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