As record numbers of coronavirus cases are being reported, and positivity rates are skyrocketing, people are looking for new ways to protect themselves from Covid-19.

Hemp & Coronavirus

According to a new study conducted by Oregon State University researchers, hemp could be a new method of coronavirus prevention. The study, published on the National Library of Medicine’s National Center for Biotechnology Information’s website, states that hemp compounds can prevent the coronavirus from entering human cells. Read the study’s full abstract below.

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. Affinity selection-mass spectrometry was used for the discovery of botanical ligands to the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. Cannabinoid acids from hemp (Cannabis sativa) were found to be allosteric as well as orthosteric ligands with micromolar affinity for the spike protein. In follow-up virus neutralization assays, cannabigerolic acid and cannabidiolic acid prevented infection of human epithelial cells by a pseudovirus expressing the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein and prevented entry of live SARS-CoV-2 into cells. Importantly, cannabigerolic acid and cannabidiolic acid were equally effective against the SARS-CoV-2 alpha variant B.1.1.7 and the beta variant B.1.351. 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.

The new study was led by Richard van Breemen, a researcher with Oregon State’s Global Hemp Innovation Center, College of Pharmacy and Linus Pauling Institute. His research showed the hemp compounds CBDA and CBGA were shown to be effective against the two variants of the coronavirus, alpha and beta.

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

““These variants are well known for evading antibodies against early lineage SARS-CoV-2, which is obviously concerning given that current vaccination strategies rely on the early lineage spike protein as an antigen,” he added. “Our data show CBDA and CBGA are effective against the two variants we looked at, and we hope that trend will extend to other existing and future variants.”

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This isn’t the first time CBD and hemp have been researched for their effects on the Covid-19 coronavirus. A 2020 article titled In Search of Preventative Strategies: Novel Anti-Inflammatory High-CBD Cannabis Sativa Extracts Modulate ACE2 Expression in COVID-19 Gateway Tissues also researched new preventative techniques, and cited CBD as one of them. 

Cannabis sativa, especially one high in the anti-inflammatory cannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD), has been proposed to modulate gene expression and inflammation and harbour anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties. Working under the Health Canada research license, we have developed over 800 new Cannabis sativa lines and extracts and hypothesized that high-CBD C. sativa extracts may be used to modulate ACE2 expression in COVID-19 target tissues. 

These researchers were hoping to develop a mouthwash or throat gargle that would potentially decrease the viral entry via the oral mucosa and would be available for both home and clinical use.

What is CBD?

The most abundant compound in hemp plants found in the flower and leaves is Cannabidiol, or CBD. CBD is one of more than 100 different cannabinoids that can be extracted from the hemp plant. CBD is a cannabinoid, meaning it acts on the endocannabinoid system of the body.

CBD is more specifically referred to as a phytocannabinoid, meaning that it is a cannabinoid originating from a plant. Cannabinoids do not have to come from within us to affect our endocannabinoid system, which is why CBD is able to impact us. Because their molecular makeup is similar to that of endocannabinoids, cannabinoids originating outside our bodies can interact with our endocannabinoid systems, altering activity and delivering therapeutic benefits.

What Does Full Spectrum Mean?

Our strongest CBD is derived from hemp and contains many cannabinoids beyond only CBD, including THC, along with other elements of the hemp plant, including naturally occurring terpenes, essential vitamins, fatty acids, protein, and more. You might sometimes find full spectrum CBD called whole-plant CBD extract for this reason. Along with CBD, full spectrum also contains other cannabinoids such as CBDV, CBN, CBG, THC delta9, THC delta8, THCV, CBG, CDC, THCA and CBDA

Every cannabinoid and terpene found in a hemp plant has a specific biochemical effect, and studies have indicated there is a greater benefit when the full spectrum of compounds work together in what is known as the “Entourage Effect.”