“Cannabis compounds CBGA and CBDA can prevent infection from Covid-19 by blocking how the virus gains entry to a cell.” A new study by Oregon State’s Blogal Hemp Innovation Center in the College of Pharmacy and Linus Pauling Institute has revealed that cannabinoids can prevent infection from the virus that causes Covid-19. The report titled, “Cannabinoids Block Cellular Entry of SARS-CoV-2 and the Emerging Variants,” was published earlier this week by the Journal of Natural Products and ACS Publications.
The spread of Covid is increasing with each day. With daily infections reaching into the millions and vaccines failing to stop the spread, science has turned to alternative medicines to help.
Researchers have found two cannabinoid acids found in varietals of the plant, cannabigerolic acid (CBGA), and cannabidiolic acid (CBDA), that can bind to the spike proteins found in SARS-CoV-2. These spike proteins are the key biological characteristic of Covid-19 that allows the virus to penetrate host cells and cause infection.
By binding to the spike proteins, CBDA and CBGA cannabinoids can effectively prevent the virus from penetrating cells and causing infection. This discovery opens new avenues to prevent and treat the disease.
What is CBGA and CBDA?
All cannabinoids come from cannabigerolic acid (CBGa). CBGa is the foundational compound of the cannabis flower. It’s at the top of the cascade reaction that produces the three major cannabinoids. It’s like the granddaddy of cannabinoids.
Enzymes within the plant convert CBGa into a combination of the three major precursor compounds: Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid (THCa), Cannabichromenic Acid (CBCA), and Cannabidiolic Acid (CBDA). This combination depends on the unique strain of cannabis they are derived from.
CBDA is a non-psychoactive precursor compound to CBD. Specifically, CBDA is decarboxylated to create CBD. This happens instantly when the flower is smoked or vaped. It can also occur slowly when the plant material is left to dry in the sun or at room temperature.
CBDA can be thought of as raw CBD. It’s most commonly found in live or raw plants bred for high CBD levels.
What are the benefits of CBDa?
Some of the potential benefits of CBDa include anti-inflammatory properties, may help with nausea, and may help with cancer – based on previous research.
Can CBDA & CBGA Prevent New Variants?
“Orally bioavailable and with a long history of safe human use, these cannabinoids have the potential to prevent as well as treat infection by SARS-CoV-2,” claimed study researchers. Led by Richard Van Breeman and in collaboration with scientists at the Oregon Health & Science University, Breeman quoted, “our research showed that these compounds were equally effective against variants of SARS-CoV-2, including variant B.1.1.7 (Alpha), which was first detected in the United Kingdom, and variant B.1.351 (Beta), first detected in South Africa.”
“Any part of the infection and replication cycle is a potential target for antiviral intervention, and the connection of the spike protein’s receptor-binding domain to the human cell surface receptor ACE2 is a critical step in that cycle,” said Van Breeman. “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.”
Further study is still needed but Van Breeman noted in the study that cannabinoids have the potential to be developed into treatment or prevention drugs for Covid-19.
“These compounds can be taken orally and have a long history of safe use in humans,” van Breemen tells us. “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. However, they are different from the acids and are not contained in hemp products.”
The research showed the effectiveness of the cannabinoids against variants of the virus. Van Breeman mentioned this is “one of the primary concerns” of health officials.
“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,” said van Breemen. “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.”
Breeman added, “resistant variants could still arise amid widespread use of cannabinoids but that the combination of vaccination and CBDA/CBGA treatment should make for a much more challenging environment for SARS-CoV-2.”
Learn more about cannabis as medicine.