New research carried out by researchers at the Oregon State University and the Oregon Health and Science University has discovered that some hemp compounds may be able to prevent SARS-CoV-2 from entering cells in the human body. SARS-CoV-2 is the virus that causes the coronavirus infection. The study’s findings were reported in the “Journal of Natural Products.”
Hemp is a strain of the marijuana plant that has been grown for use in various commercial applications. The plant has very small amounts of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), which is one of the two primary compounds found in cannabis, the other being CBD. Unlike THC, which is a psychoactive that usually induces a high, CBD (cannabidiol) doesn’t possess psychoactive properties. Studies have shown that CBD can help manage depression, anxiety and even seizures.
The researchers discovered that cannabidiolic acid and cannabigerolic acid, which are both compounds found in hemp, can bind to the spike protein that SARS-CoV-2 uses to enter the body, which will help block the virus from infecting individuals. For their study, the researchers conducted an analysis using a mass septectomy-based screening method. Their analysis included different plant-derived compounds that are used as dietary supplements, including licorice, hops, wild yam and red clover. The researchers ranked the compounds based on their affinity to bind with the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, which led to the discovery of the pair of compounds.
In a statement, Richard van Breemen, the study’s lead researcher, explained that the compounds were abundant in various hemp extracts as well as in the hemp plant, adding that the compounds had a good safety profile in humans, unlike THC, which is a controlled substance. Van Breemen added that the compounds were precursors to hemp-derived substances such as CBG (cannabigerol) and CBD, which are well-known, noting that despite this, the substances weren’t found in many hemp products. The researcher maintained that more studies were needed to discover the right dosage for human consumption of these compounds.
In their report, the researchers highlight that smoking marijuana doesn’t provide any protection from the virus that causes the coronavirus. They explain that the benefit for preventing the infection of cells needs to be derived from cannabinoid acids, which should not be smoked because they are heat sensitive and would be turned into CBD.
A press release from the institution revealed that the research also looked into the effectiveness of these compounds against the alpha, beta and original strains of SARS-CoV-2. However, more recent variants of the coronavirus, such as omicron and delta, weren’t included.
It is exciting to know that so much more about the therapeutic potential of the cannabis products made by established companies such as Red White & Bloom Brands Inc. (CSE: RWB) (OTCQX: RWBYF) is still being discovered and documented. It could take many more years before this versatile plant is fully understood.
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