New research indicates that the hemp compounds in cannabis are capable of stoping Covid-19 from entering human cells and infecting people.
The study, which was published in the Journal of Nature Products on Monday, found that cannabinoid acids attach to the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, thwarting a key step in the virus’s process of infecting its hosts:
“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. They bind to the spike proteins so those proteins can’t bind to the ACE2 enzyme, which is abundant on the outer membrane of endothelial cells in the lungs and other organs,” said Richard van Breemen, a researcher at Oregon State’s Global Hemp Innovation Center, College of Pharmacy and Linus Pauling Institute, in a statement.
“These cannabinoid acids are abundant in hemp and in many hemp extracts,” van Breeman added. “They are not controlled substances like THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, and have a good safety profile in humans.”
The study also found that these hemp compounds worked just as well against different variants of Covid. While hemp is most commonly associated with cannabis, it is actually a wide-ranging source of fiber and food, with hemp extracts and compounds being present in many popular cosmetics, body lotions, dietary supplements, and food products.
Cannabis targets the same spike protein as vaccines and antibody therapy
The cannabinoid acids that attach to the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein are known as cannabigerolic acid, CBGA, and cannabidiolic acid, CBDA. Perhaps the most significant aspect of these findings is the fact that the spike protein is the primary target of Covid-19 vaccines and antibody therapy.
“These compounds can be taken orally and have a long history of safe use in humans,” van Breemen said. “They have the potential to prevent as well as treat infection by SARS-CoV-2.
“CBDA and CBGA are produced by the hemp plant as precursors to CBD and CBG, which are familiar to many consumers,” he added. “However, they are different from the acids and are not contained in hemp products.”
Van Breeman did say that there was always the potential for cannabinoid-resistant variants to Paris in response to widespread use of cannabis to fight Covid. Despite this, he believes that the combined force of vaccination and cannabinoids would still be highly effective against a resistant strain.
“As a complement to vaccines, small-molecule therapeutic agents are needed to treat or prevent infections by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) and its variants, which cause COVID-19,” the paper reads.
“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.”