There are times when cannabis research is so impactful, it makes mainstream headlines and excites even non-consumers. A recent study led by researchers at Oregon Health & Science University and Oregon State University did just that.
Acid from the cannabinoids CBD and CBG prevents or shortens the SARS-CoV-2 virus from penetrating healthy human cells, according to the study published in the Journal of Natural Products. The acids, CBGA and CBDA, bind to a spike protein found in the SARS virus that causes the coronavirus disease.
Alpha and beta variants of the virus were tested in the study, as the evolving variants are and have been a primary concern throughout the pandemic. According to the study’s lead researcher, Richard van Breemen of Oregon State University’s Global Hemp Innovation Center, College of Pharmacy and Linus Pauling Institute, the virus’ variants are known for “evading antibodies against earlier lineage of SARS-CoV-2, which is obviously concerning given that current vaccination strategies rely on the early lineage spike protein as an antigen.”
Will Smoking Cannabis Protect Me From COVID-19?
Cannabis consumers aren’t proven to be at less risk of contracting COVID-19 than non-consumers. The cannabinoids CBD and CBG weren’t actually examined in this particular study. Researchers looked at the precursor to these cannabinoids, the acids. When the hemp plant is heated, these acids turn into cannabinoids, changing the plant’s original structure. This study didn’t explore the effect of CBD and CBG on the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
THC Couldn’t Be Studied
But, van Breemen did confirm THC-A binds to the SARS virus’ spike protein. He believes a combination of CBD-A, CBG-A, and THC-A would be a more effective solution than any one of these compounds by itself. Researchers couldn’t formally study THC-A due to federal laws.
Oral Consumption of Cannabinoid Acids is Safe
The study itself is quite brief. It doesn’t disclose much information about the scientific variables tested during the research; like how much of the acids were shown to prevent COVID-19, for example.
However, van Breemen says gummies or tinctures with these three acids, CBD-A, CBG-A, and CBD-A, could be a suitable treatment against COVID-19. “These compounds can be taken orally and have a long history of safe use in humans,” van Breemen said in a statement.
How to Use Cannabis to Strengthen Your Immune System Against COVID-19
This study is still new, but other research shows us how powerful cannabis compounds can be for our immune health. Existing science makes a case for the plant as a potential treatment option, though it has not been approved to cure or treat any diseases.
Cannabis Terpenes Directly Affect Lung & Bacterial Health
This 2016 study highlights the terpene myrcene and how it influences TH1 immune cells in our body. Myrcene is found abundantly in most cannabis strains. TH1 immune cells are vital defendants against certain bacteria, like salmonella or tuberculosis. Myrcene-heavy strains can boost our immune health through its relationship with TH1 one cells.
The terpene pinene is a bronchodilator, according to research. Bronchodilators widen the bronchi (airway tubes that let air pass through the lungs) to relieve lung inflammation and increase airflow to the lungs.
COVID 19 & The Cytokine Storm
Though this particular study is focused on cannabinoid acids before they become cannabinoids, there is existing research published before this COVID-19 study that proves cannabinoids influence our body and health. This includes our immune system and inflammatory responses.
“In 22 studies where CBD, CBG, or CBD in combination with THC were administered, a reduction in the levels of at least one inflammatory cytokine was observed, and in 24 studies, some improvements in disease or disability were apparent,” reads a 2021 systematic review about cannabinoids and inflammatory cytokines.
COVID-19 causes an immune response known as a cytokine storm. A large amount of inflammatory cytokines are released in the body, creating this cytokine storm that can damage your tissue and organs. The impact of cannabinoids on inflammatory cytokines could prove cannabis to be a beneficial treatment for COVID-19.
The recent study exploring cannabinoid acids and COVID-19 may have not publicized a cure for coronavirus, but it did speak to the power of full-spectrum, plant-based remedies. “The supplement, containing a complex extract of a plant, sometimes is better than monotherapy in the traditional drug approach, where you purify it and use only one compound at a time,” said van Breemen.
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