Can CBD help prevent Covid-19 & SARS-CoV-2?

CBD to help with Covid

There’s good news for CBD users amidst the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. A new study found that CBD or cannabidiol can help block the replication of the SARS-CoV-2 (coronavirus) in cells. This new finding highlights the need to further research into CBD’s effect on immunity and its potential to be used as a tool in fighting the Covid-19. 

CBD already has well-documented anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. Studies, mainly conducted in regards to treating patients with epilepsy,  have found that it acts as an immunosuppressant. This means that the compounds in CBD directly interact with the immune system and its response to outside invaders like viruses or bacteria. It influences the body’s 

promotion of regulatory cells and can impact critical conditions like autoimmune encephalomyelitis (a condition where the immune system attacks healthy brain and spinal cord tissue).

The recent 2022 study found that it halts the virus replication in cells rather than preventing the cytokine storm (predicted immune response) as was expected. When a virus enters the body it attaches to a host cell. The virus replicates by injecting its genetic material into the host cell and spreads when the host cell undergoes the natural process of protein synthesis. The infected cell then reproduces the virus and spreads it to the surrounding tissue. By halting or slowing the replication of the virus, it has the potential to reduce infections and shorten the duration of illness.

Scientists first noticed this trend when studying patients taking high-potency CBD as a treatment for epilepsy, currently the only condition it is FDA-approved to treat. Further investigation revealed that patients taking prescribed CBD tested positive for COVID-19 at a significantly lower rate than those in a similar population.

The study has taken place with mice and has been proven to inhibit infection in human lung cells as well. Scientists exposed human lung cells injected with CBD to the Covid-19 and studied how the cannabinoid compounds affected the virus’ replication rate. In the real world this means, a person exposed to covid-19 may not get as sick or may not experience symptoms at all.

Scientists have found one compound, in particular, 7-OH-CBD, to be especially useful in preventing the spread of coronavirus soon after infection. The study further clarifies that the CBD studied was derived from cannabis plants rather than hemp plants and stipulates that only minor side effects were noted.

The virus was able to penetrate human lung cells but the it prevented the virus from replicating inside the cell and for six hours after exposure. The study showed the same pattern with three variants of SARS-CoV-2 in addition to the original strain. While no one can predict what the next spike mutation may look like, the fact that there were positive outcomes for multiple strains of the virus is encouraging.

This promising research suggests that CBD products could be used to treat or prevent covid-19 infections. Experts caution that research is still emerging and studies have only been completed using medical-grade CBD but the research results are still significant. Further studies need to be conducted to determine the ideal delivery route (inhalation, tincture, etc.) that offers the most protection as well as the optimal dosage for maximum effect.

Unlike other experimental treatments being tested as antivirals, CBD is a generally safe supplement and is readily available without a prescription. Along with current strategies like vaccination, masking, and social distancing, CBD could be one more tool in our fight against the ongoing pandemic.

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