Study: Cannabis can help prevent COVID-19

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FILE – In this Aug. 15, 2019 file photo, marijuana grows at an indoor cannabis farm in Gardena, Calif. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)

CORVALLIS, Ore. (WTVO) – New research from Oregon State University shows that hemp compounds can prevent the COVID-19 virus from entering human cells.

Richard van Breemen, a researcher at Oregon State’s Global Hemp Innovation Center, published this study in the Journal of Natural Products on Jan. 10. Van Breemen and his team found that cannabinoid acids can attach to and block the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein that the virus uses to infect people.

Hemp is different from the THC component in marijuana, van Breemen said. Known scientifically as Cannabis sativa, the cannabinoid acids found in the plant and its extracts are often used in cosmetics and food products.

“They are not controlled substances like THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana,” van Breemen said. “[They] have a good safety profile in humans.”

Cannabigerolic acid (CBGA) and cannabidioloic acid (CBDA) act as “cell entry inhibitors” that prevent spike proteins from binding to the ACE2 enzyme, which is found on the outside of cells on the lungs and other organs. The study also found that CBGA and CBDA are “equally effective against variants” of COVID-19, including the alpha and beta variants.

“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,” van Breemen said.

In addition to COVID-19, Van Breemen said these acids have been “helpful” in treating other viral infections such as HIV-1 and hepatitis.

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