Cannabis compounds prevent coronavirus from entering human cells, study finds

Ashley Walsh, founder of Pocono Organics farm, holds hemp buds at the farm adjacent to Pocono Raceway, Friday, June 25, 2021, in Long Pond, Pa. The 380 acre farm is the title sponsor for Saturday's NASCAR auto race, The Pocono Organics CBD 325, the first Cup race with a CBD sponsorship. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum) (Matt Slocum, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

A new study published by researchers at Oregon State University found hemp compounds have the ability to prevent the virus that causes COVID-19 from entering human cells, KPRC sister station WDIV reported.

WDIV shared the findings of the study led by Richard van Breemen, a researcher with Oregon State’s Global Hemp Innovation Center, College of Pharmacy and Linus Pauling Institute, were published this week in the Journal of Natural Products.

Van Breemen explained hemp -- known scientifically as cannabis sativa -- is a source of fiber, food and animal feed, and multiple hemp extracts and compounds are added to cosmetics, body lotions, dietary supplements and food.

According to a news release from OSU and reported by WDIV, Van Breemen and collaborators, including scientists at Oregon Health & Science University, found that a pair of cannabinoid acids bind to the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, blocking a critical step in the process the virus uses to infect people.

The compounds are cannabigerolic acid, or CBGA, and cannabidiolic acid, CBDA, and the spike protein is the same drug target used in COVID-19 vaccines and antibody therapy. A drug target is any molecule critical to the process a disease follows, meaning its disruption can thwart infection or disease progression.

“These cannabinoid acids are abundant in hemp and in many hemp extracts,” van Breemen said. “They are not controlled substances like THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, and have a good safety profile in humans. And our research showed the hemp compounds were equally effective against variants of SARS-CoV-2, including variant B.1.1.7, which was first detected in the United Kingdom, and variant B.1.351, first detected in South Africa.”

Those two variants are also known the alpha and beta variant, respectively.

For more on this study, go to WDIV’s full report here.


About the Authors:

Ken Haddad is the digital special projects manager for WDIV / ClickOnDetroit.com. He also authors the Morning Report Newsletter and various other newsletters. He's been with WDIV since 2013.

Amanda Cochran is an Edward R. Murrow award-winning journalist. She specializes in Texas features, consumer and business news and local crime coverage.