Can Cannabis Reduce The Risk Of Catching COVID-19?

In an effort to identify natural medicinal products in the ongoing global fight against COVID-19, Dr. Richard van Breemen and a team of researchers at Oregon State University have published a peer-reviewed study in the Journal of Natural Products proving a possible link between cannabis and protection against COVID-19 infection (via Vice).

Their research identified two cannabis compounds, CBG-A and CBD-A, that have the ability to bind to COVID-19's spike protein and block entry into the cells (via Forbes). These findings indicate a potential future means by which to both protect against, and treat, COVID-19 infection.

Although initially denied funding by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Dr. Richard van Breemen tells Vice in a one-on-one interview how they pushed forward with the research anyways, stating, " ... one of the reviewers said, no one's made the proof of principle that this can work. So they didn't give me the money. We did it anyway, and we've established this principle that small molecules including natural products, in this case from hemp, have the ability to stop the virus from infecting human cells."

CBD has been shown to help prevent COVID-19 infection

Unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabinoid acids are non psychoactive compounds and are reported to have "a good safety profile in humans," van Breemen explained, as reported by Forbes. In addition, their research found CBD-A and CBG-A to be just as effective at combating COVID-19 variants.

Van Breemen goes on to stress in his exclusive Q&A with Vice that one's risk of infection is not reduced simply by smoking marijuana. The reason being, is that the chemical composition of these compounds is altered when exposed to heat. "We certainly expect it would have a reduced effect," van Breemen states. Based on their findings, researchers anticipate oral dietary supplements in the form of a pill, gummy, or oil will yield the greatest effects. Van Breemen also has hopes for future studies regarding exact dosage amounts.

This research echoes similar findings of a study conducted by the University of Waterloo, which found that CBD has the ability to preemptively activate the body's antiviral response (via Waterloo News). Maria Fernandes, who conducted the study's cell research, elaborated on the implications of these findings, stating, "This suggests CBD at the right dose could help cells be in a better state of readiness to respond to a virus, but it doesn't cause a response unless there is a need."