Cannabis has long been used in medicine. Now U.S. scientists have found that the plant can also contribute in the fight against coronavirus. Its ingredients can serve as protection against COVID-19.
Cannabis in the Fight Against COVID-19
The next potential breakthrough in fighting COVID-19 comes not from Big Pharma, but from the hemp plant. Researchers at Oregon State University (OSU) have found that two cannabis compounds can stop the spread of viruses in the human body.
The scientists extracted two compounds from the hemp plant – cannabigerolic acid (CBGA) and cannabidiolic acid (CBDA) – and concluded that the spike protein they affect is the same target used in COVID-19 vaccines.
The two compounds are precursors to CBG and CBD, which are widely legal and available to consumers. CBG and CBD cannabis oils as well as extracts are commonly used to treat anxiety, sleep disorders, epilepsy and a variety of other conditions. Study author Richard van Breemen of Oregon State University emphasized CBGA and CBDA are “not controlled substances like THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, and have a good safety profile in humans.” The researcher added that these compounds can be taken orally and have the potential to both prevent and treat coronavirus infection.
The research findings were published in the medical journal Journal of Nature Products. However, scientists still have a long way to go before doctors will prescribe hemp oil. The study did find that CBGA and CBDA were effective against both the alpha and beta variants of the coronavirus. However, these were performed on human cells in a laboratory and not on real human subjects.
The scientists anticipate that these hemp compounds may be used with vaccines in the future to create a “much more challenging environment” for COVID-19. One of the main criticisms of current vaccines is that they use the original spike protein of the virus as an antigen, which means that variants with new spike protein mutations are more likely to evade the protection of the vaccine, van Breemen said. In contrast, the researcher pointed out, CBDA and CBGA were effective against the two SARS-CoV-2 variants studied. The scientists hope this trend will extend to other existing and future variants.