Study Summary: CBD Potentially Inhibits COVID-19

Updated: Jul 10

A January 20, 2022 study entitled "Cannabidiol Inhibits SARS-CoV-2 Replication through Induction of the Host ER Stress and Innate Immune Responses" that was published in the journal Science Advances explored the medicinal efficacy of the hemp-derived cannabinoid cannabidiol, or CBD, for both prevention and treatment of COVID-19*.


*COVID-19 is the "mild to severe respiratory illness that is caused by coronavirus" (SARS-CoV-2), according to Merriam-Webster. The proper mental model is that the SARS-CoV-2 virus ("coronavirus") causes the COVID-19 sickness in humans. The virus and the illness caused by the virus are two separate things.

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"The spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic underscores the need for new treatments," reported the scientists. Like the January 10 study conducted by researchers from Oregon State University that was released only days earlier, this investigation did not involve human test subjects. Instead, it studied human lung cells, monkey kidney cells, and female mice.


"This study highlights CBD as a potential preventative agent for early-stage SARS-CoV-2 infection and merits future clinical trials."

Reported the pioneering research, "This study highlights CBD as a potential preventative agent for early-stage SARS-CoV-2 infection and merits future clinical trials." However, the scientists cautioned against use of "non-medical formulations as a preventative or treatment therapy."


Assumptions regarding full efficacy of CBD in humans against viral infections such as COVID-19 should be disregarded in favor of a more muted celebration of the data collected from this important study in the march toward more conclusive human trials involving popular marijuana-derived cannabinoids such as CBD and THC.


The Results

The study reported that CBD and one of its metabolites called 7-OH-CBD "potently block SARS-CoV-2 replication in lung epithelial cells." The inclusion of the term "potently" should not be lost on readers. How exactly did CBD accomplish this task? "CBD acts after viral entry, inhibiting viral gene expression and reversing many effects of SARS-CoV-2," reported the study's authors.

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"Our results suggest that CBD and its metabolite 7-OH-CBD can block SARS-CoV-2 infection at early and even later stages of infection," claimed the researchers. This is obviously big news for the cannabis industry and the CBD segment specifically, as well as consumers wishing to bolster their immune system against viruses such as COVID-19.


Industry leaders must push for and fund human trial studies to establish any real ground in the struggle for U.S. federal legalization or to convince an often-skeptical public that cannabis in some cases delivers real medicinal efficacy. Exposing a variety of underlying mechanisms (such as the ability of CBD to treat COVID-19) via carefully controlled (and expensive) placebo-controlled human trials may help to reduce stigma and enlighten lawmakers.


"Analysis of a national sample of patients with active records of CBD consumption at the time of COVID testing revealed an association with substantially fewer SARS-CoV-2–positive test results."

In addition to testing monkey and human cells and examining living mice, the study also conducted a literature review that analyzed public surveys and metrics that looked for patterns between CBD consumption and COVID-19 infection occurrence in search of any correlations.


"Analysis of a national sample of patients with active records of CBD consumption at the time of COVID testing revealed an association with substantially fewer SARS-CoV-2–positive test results," reported the study, indicating that their testing of monkey and human cells and their experiments on mice might indicate an actual CBD-related positive outcome in humans in terms of preventing or treating COVID-19.

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Conclusions

The study's authors noted that CBD offers a number of advantages to patients in terms of COVID-19 treatment and is available in many forms, including food and food additives containing no or almost no THC (and, thus, producing no potentially undesirable psychoactivity for patients).


The widely cited study concluded that CBD may partner well with traditional antiviral drugs to combat COVID-19. "With proper formulation, quality control, and delivery, CBD could be used prophylactically in contrast to recent antiviral drugs," reported the study.


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