COVID-19 may be blocked by cannabis compounds, study finds

Compounds found in hemp can block the virus that causes COVID-19 from entering human cells, according to a new study published in the Journal of Natural Products.

Researchers at Oregon State University have found that a pair of cannabinoid acids bind to the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. This prevents the spike protein from binding to angiotensin-converting enzyme-2 (ACE-2) receptors. The spike protein latches onto ACE 2 receptors in the lining of the lungs and other organs, which is how the virus infects people, health experts told Fox News.

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“This means that cell entry inhibitors, such as hemp acids, could be used to prevent SARS-CoV-2 infection and also to shorten infections by preventing virus particles from infecting human cells. “said Richard Van Breemen, a researcher at the Global State of Oregon. Hemp Innovation Center, College of Pharmacy, and Linus Pauling Institute in the Oregon State University version.

In this photo from Tuesday, July 2, 2019, Darren Johnson, a hemp processor, holds raw hemp that will be used to make CBD oil at his processing facility, Wasatch Extraction, in Salt Lake City.  Johnson is one of 81 applicants vying for a medical marijuana producer's license in Utah.

In this photo from Tuesday, July 2, 2019, Darren Johnson, a hemp processor, holds raw hemp that will be used to make CBD oil at his processing facility, Wasatch Extraction, in Salt Lake City. Johnson is one of 81 applicants vying for a medical marijuana producer’s license in Utah.
(AP Photo/Morgan Smith)

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The two hemp products called cannabigerolic acid, or CBGA, and cannabidiolic acid, CBDA, had the highest affinity for the spike protein and were confirmed to block virus infection, Van Breemen said in the press release from the OSU.

Hemp is known as Cannabis sativa and several hemp extracts and compounds are added to body lotions, cosmetics and dietary supplements., and food, according to the statement. Hemp also serves as a source of food, fiber and animal feed, the researchers noted in the report.

The researchers explained in the study press release that these cannabinoid acids are abundant in hemp and several hemp extracts. “They are not controlled substances like THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, and they have a good safety profile in humans,” Van Breemen said in the OSU statement.

“They have the potential to prevent and treat SARS-CoV-2 infection. CBDA and CBGA are produced by the hemp plant as precursors to CBD and CBG, which are familiar to many consumers However, they are different from acids and are not contained in hemp products.” Van Breemen said in the statement.

Jim Castetter, sales manager of Empire Standard, a hemp extract processing and distribution facility, weighs hemp flowers on a scale on April 13, 2021 in Binghamton, New York.

Jim Castetter, sales manager of Empire Standard, a hemp extract processing and distribution facility, weighs hemp flowers on a scale on April 13, 2021 in Binghamton, New York.
(Photo by ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images)

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The Oregon researcher said hemp compounds were equally effective against alpha and beta variants. Van Breemen said resistant variants could still emerge with widespread cannabinoid use, but the combination of vaccination and CBDA/CBGA treatment should create a much more challenging environment for SARS-CoV-2.

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

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