The findings, which were published on Jan. 10 by the University of Oregon, found that hemp compounds such as cannabigrolic acid, or CBGA, and cannabidiolic acid, or CBDA, are equally effective in preventing infections from COVID-19 variants. This is the case when the hemp compounds are used as a complement to vaccines, the study shows.
According to the study, the reason for this is that the pair of cannabinoid acids bind to the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, which disrupts the infection process. Red clover, wild yam, hops and three species of licorice were also examined with a screening technique invented in a laboratory before it was discovered that hemp compounds could be used to prevent COVID-19.
“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,” said Richard van Breemen, a researcher with Oregon State’s Global Hemp Innovation Center and the person who led the study.
However, this research does not indicate that smoking marijuana can protect a person from contracting the coronavirus.
Breemen said, “These cannabinoid acids are abundant in hemp and in many hemp extracts. They are not controlled substances like THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, and have a good safety profile in humans.”
He added that “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.”
Hemp, which is known scientifically as Cannabis Sativa, is a source of fiber, food and animal feed. Plus, a myriad of hemp extracts and compounds are also added to cosmetics, body lotions dietary supplements and food.
The study’s abstract states that hemp has “a long history of safe human use, these cannabinoids, isolated or in hemp extracts, have the potential to prevent as well as treat infection by SARS-CoV-2.”
Breemen explained that at this time, one of the major concerns is the growing number of COVID-19 variants. He says CBGA and CBDA were determined to be equally effective against alpha and beta variants. Those variants include B.1.1.7, which was first detected in the United Kingdom, and variant B.1.351, first detected in South Africa.
“We hope that trend will extend to other existing and future variants,” Breemen said.