Cannabis has a long history of use in therapy. Some compounds in hemp (Cannabis Sativa) have anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving, and anxiety-relieving properties. These are only related to CBD and THC, the psychoactive element in the cannabis plant. But what is the link between marijuana and COVID 19?
Scientists have been trying to prove the efficacy of cannabis in treating COVID-19. Currently, the world is still taken by storm by this pandemic. At its onset, COVID 19 resulted in border closers and put the world economy on the brink of collapsing. Even after the development of vaccines, the disease is still a concern. Would it not be good news if cannabis extracts treat coronavirus disease?
New Study Finds Cannabis Compounds Prevent Infection By COVID-19
A report on the research of Cannabinoids Block Cellular Entry of SARS-CoV-2 and the Emerging Variants has been recently published to verify the missing link. From that publication, marijuana is effective in curing and preventing coronavirus disease.
As published by Forbes, orally ingested cannabinoids can potentially cure or prevent COVID-19 from invading the body. This study may be the missing piece of the puzzle about marijuana and COVID 19. The research is, however, still in its infancy. It may be the solution that the human race is hoping for to help fight against the pandemic, but it may be too early to make merry about it.
The test of cannabinoid compounds on modeled human man tissues and cells in the laboratory has positive results. It has confirmed the efficacy of hemp in stopping the invasion of the human body by SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 disease.
Many cannabis and covid 19 studies have been conducted by scientists worldwide. But at last, researchers from Oregon State University identified two compounds in the hemp plant that are effective against the original SARS-CoV-2 virus: CBGA and CBDA. It is equally effective against the two SARS-CoV-2: alpha variants B.1.1.7 and beta variant B.1.351.
What Cannabis Compounds Can Help with COVID?
Marijuana is mainly known for the CBD and THC compounds in the hemp plant. Many clinicians have used these two as parameters for prescribing cannabis doses in therapeutic treatments. But for COVID-19, two other hemp extracts come into the picture.
According to the study published on 10th January 2022, marijuana can help with COVID-19. The cannabinoid acids in hemp have allosteric and orthosteric ligands. They also have a high micromolar affinity to spike protein. The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) binds to the same protein to enter into the cells.
The two cannabinoid acids in the hemp plant with the potential to cure and prevent COVID-19 are cannabigerolic acid (CBGA) and cannabidiolic acid (CBDA). These two compounds can effectively bind to the spike protein on the surface of the receptor cells, which prevents the SARS-CoV-2 virus and its alpha and better variants from entering into the cells. CBGA and CBDA close the gateway used by the virus. They can, therefore, treat and prevent coronavirus infection.
The CBGA and CBDA extracts from the hemp plant are abundant and not as heavily regulated as THC, a psychoactive compound in marijuana. They, therefore, become the possible small-molecule therapeutic substances that can complement vaccines in the wars against the pandemic.
As opposed to vaccines, cannabinoids are more effective against new SARS-CoV-2 variants. According to the research done by Richard van Breemen and his team at Oregon State’s Global Hemp Innovation Center, CBGA and CBDA can also prevent infection by B.1.1.7 and B.1.351 variants.
SARS-CoV-2 and its variants have 4 structural proteins and 16 other non-structural proteins. They are all potential targets when developing vaccines and finding a cure for the disease. But for the virus to infect and multiply, they need the spike protein on the receptor ACE2 enzyme. By ingesting the hemp extracts (CBGA and CBDA), the compounds bind to the ACE2 before SARS-CoV-2 does. They act as inhibitors that prevent the virus from entering the ACE2 enzyme. If they enter into one cell or more, as in the case of infection, they will not spread to other cells. This shortens their lifespan, hence the cure.
Consuming marijuana products will not help with COVID-19. Even though they are produced by hemp plants as precursors to CBG and CBD, they are not found in marijuana products. Also, there is no research to prove that smoking marijuana may prevent coronavirus. CBGA and CBDA can be developed into drugs for preventing and treating COVID-19. However, more research and possible clinical trials should be conducted to prove these hypotheses.
Previous Cannabis and COVID-19 studies
One of the first studies on COVID and Marijuana was conducted by The University of Lethbridge. The study confirmed that some compounds in marijuana can effectively stop coronavirus infection. These compounds prevent the virus from entering the body cells.
The gateway coronavirus uses to invade the body is the protein spikes on receptor cells. Of all many cellular sensors, ACE2 is the main entrance. The SARS-CoV-2 virus and its variants bind to it to infect the organism.
A study by the University of Lethbridge has found that cannabis extracts rich in cannabidiol can affect receptor cells. Their anti-inflammatory property can alter the structure of these cells in various body parts such as the mouth, lungs, and intestines. As a result, the anti-inflammatory hemp extracts can reduce the COVID-19 infection by about 70%. SARS-CoV-2 virus fails to bind to the protein spikes on the receptor cells.
The study was done in 2020, but there is still not enough evidence to prove the findings. According to the tests conducted in the laboratory using the hemp extracts as inhalers and oral rinses, the results were positive. The same information was used to project that smoking weed while having COVID 19 can help alleviate its symptoms. However, these are still just postulates that are yet to be scientifically proven.
Marijuana and COVID FAQs
Does marijuana cure Coronavirus?
According to a study by scientists at Oregon State’s Global Hemp Innovation Center, the CBGA and CBDA cannabinoid acids can bind to the protein spikes on the ACE2 enzymes, preventing entry by COVID-19 virus. This is the same protein spike that the virus uses to spread and multiply in the body. It makes marijuana a potential cure, but that is yet to be proved through clinical trials.
Does THC help with COVID?
Different scientific studies suggest that cannabis extracts can help prevent or treat coronavirus, but not through smoking. The CBGA and CBDA cannabinoid acids are the two compounds that have been proven in the lab to have the ability to prevent and cure COVID-19 and not THC. In fact, no one even discusses THC when talking about marijuana and COVID.
Does smoking weed prevent COVID?
No. According to the research conducted by scientists at Oregon State’s Global Hemp Innovation Center, the only compounds in marijuana with the potential to prevent or cure COVID-19 are CBD-A, CBG-A, and THC-A. Though not proven in clinical trials, these compounds can inhibit the SARS-CoV-2 from entering the body cells. Unfortunately, CBD-A, CBG-A, and THC-A are converted into CBD, CBG, and THC, which do not bind to the spike protein on receptor cells. So, smoking a joint or eating a cannabis edible can never prevent nor cure COVID 19.
Can you smoke weed if you have COVID?
Smoking, in general, is not recommended if you have any respiratory disease. Instead of smoking cannabis, you can seek alternatives such as cannabis edibles or tinctures as they will not strain your lungs. According to the document published by FNHA, only products with no more than 100 mg/g (10%) THC content are recommended to COVID-19 patients. Also, the disease causes nose, throat, and lung infections that can worsen when you smoke weed or any other substance. Smoking puts the patients at a higher risk of developing severe COVID-19 symptoms.