Hemp’s role in Covid-19 Prevention
By now most people have seen the headlines citing the study conducted by Oregon State’s Global Hemp Innovation Center in the College of Pharmacy and Linus Pauling Institute. The findings from the study are pretty exciting and have garnered attention from mainstream media such as Forbes and Bloomberg. Researchers found that two compounds from the cannabis (hemp) plant were able to block the virus that causes Covid19 from entering human cells. A key characteristic of SARS CoV-2 virus is that it contains spike proteins that allow the virus to penetrate cells and cause the infection to spread. These are the characteristic crown-like spikes that enter our body through the ACE2 receptor sites. ACE2 receptors are found on many of our organ systems including our respiratory tract, heart and GI tract. This explains in part why Covid can affect so many different organs. The virus has a few mechanisms to proliferate in the body, but these spike protein’s ability to bind to cells is critical for the virus to thrive. So, anything that can disrupt this cell entry gives the body a fighting chance. It is well known that some of the compounds in the cannabis plant, particularly CBD and CBG also interact with the ACE2 receptor sites. They seem to communicate with the enzymes that down regulate these proteins and help modulate our immune system. Researchers have been looking into the role cannabis can play with Covid19 since early 2020.
The study released today has generated a lot of buzz. And for good reason. Two years into this pandemic and everyone is ready for some good news. And, there is still more to learn. The study identified that CBD(A) and CBG(A) blocked the virus from entering cells. So, what are those compounds? The key here is the (A) that follows the letters. The A stands for “acid”, which means that the compound has a chemical chain called a carboxyl group attached to the molecule. As the cannabis matures this carboxyl chain starts to break down and it’s no longer an “acid”. Most CBD products on the market are the mature form of CBD, rather than CBDA. But, this is still great news. CBD and CBG work. They are an important part of our daily health routine. The further we investigate the role of our endocannabinoid system and the over 600 compounds that exist in cannabis, the more this plant continues to prove its efficacy and permanent place in the new pharmacopeia.