A group of 33 scientists at the University of Chicago and the University of Louisville showed on Thursday in a paper published in the peer-reviewed journal Science Advances, A survey of 1,212 U.S. patients who take CBD found that people taking 100 milligrams-per-milliliter oral doses return positive tests for COVID-19 at much lower rates than people with the same medical backgrounds who do not take CBD.
Moreover, the study found that 6.2% of patients who took CBD for seizure-related conditions tested positive for COVID-19 instead of 8.9% in the control group. In addition, in a smaller subset of patients likely taking CBD when tested for COVID-19, the effect was even more pronounced: Only 4.9% of people taking CBD became infected with COVID-19, compared to 9% in the control group. “At early and even later stages of infection, our results suggest that CBD and its metabolite 7-OH-CBD can block SARS-CoV-2 infection,” the study showed.
CBD and COVID-19
Furthermore, cannabidiol—the non-psychoactive cannabis compound known as CBD—is a potent blocker of SARS-CoV-2 replication in human cells. CBD has been shown to harm infection with COVID-19. A survey of patients taking prescribed CBD found this to be the case.
The scientists looked at real-world data and did lab tests. They treated human lung cells with CBD for 2 hours before infecting them with SARS-CoV-2. Then, they left the cells for 48 hours while watching to see if the virus grew. The scientists found that CBD stops COVID spike protein genes from growing and spreading through your body, which helps to prevent the virus from spreading. They tried it again on three different types of COVIDs and got the same result. “The bottom line is that CBD can prevent infections, such as breakthrough infections. This might be the most useful application,” stated lead author Dr. Marsha Rosner, a professor at the University of Chicago in the Ben May Department for Cancer Research.
Researchers tried to see how CBD helps stop the virus from entering cells. Unfortunately, they also found that CBD does not work in the area of the cell where viruses enter. But it is very effective at stopping protein expression in cells two and six hours after infection and partially effective 15 hours after infection. The researchers also found that CBD’s metabolite, 7-OH-CBD—the compound created when CBD is processed in the liver and intestines—has a similar antiviral effect and was non-toxic to cells.
How CBD Treats and Slows the transmission of COVID
The study found that CBD can treat and slow the transmission of COVID-19. It comes just one week after an initial discovery out of Oregon State University and Oregon Health & Sciences University that cannabis precursors (the acids that, when combusted, turn into CBD and THC) can halt the infection of cells by SARS-CoV-2 in lab tests.
The authors of that study noted that cannabis-derived products, while a potentially significant public health intervention, is no substitute for vaccination campaigns. However, they could become a much-needed supplement in the all-out fight to end the pandemic.
“Despite recent vaccine availability, SARS-CoV-2 is still spreading rapidly, highlighting the need for alternative treatments, especially for populations with limited inclination or access to vaccines,” the University of Chicago researchers wrote in their study.
Ways to prevent the spread of COVID
However, “what we don’t want… is people just running out and thinking, ‘I can take CBD, and then I don’t have to get vaccinated, or I don’t have to be masked,'” Rosner said. “This is what we don’t want to see.”
There is a lot of scientific news about the promise of cannabis in preventing or treating COVID-19. Last week, a different group of researchers found that CBD may help to kill infected cells and stop the spread of the virus.
The studies, in tandem, contribute to a growing body of research identifying cannabis as a tool in the global COVID-19 response arsenal. Rosner and her team first laid the ground for this work in March of 2021, when they identified cannabidiol as a potential treatment for COVID-19 for its ability to hamper viral replication in lung cells in a lab.
As detailed in a pre-print, the team found that in quantities similar to those prescribed as a treatment for epilepsy, CBD inhibits the replication of genes required for viruses to spread throughout the body. Rosner and her team caution against conflating their findings with the suggestion to use recreational cannabis as a treatment for COVID-19: THC may inhibit CBD’s antiviral effects. The authors note smoking is terrible for your lungs. Without clinical trials, they also can’t recommend that people go out and buy CBD at a dispensary.
More Research is Needed
Thus, “we strongly caution against the temptation to take CBD is presently available formulations including edibles, inhalants or topicals as a preventative or treatment therapy at this time,” the authors write. “Especially without the knowledge of a rigorous randomized clinical trial with this natural product.”
Rosner notes that it’s impossible to know what CBD dosage and formula will most effectively treat COVID-19 infection until her research moves into clinical trials on humans. After all, Rosner said, “we can only do so much in mice; we really need to do this in people.”
Lastly, Rosner stated, “We think it has a potential, both to be preventative—so for instance, you can imagine that I’m going traveling and CBD is something that, if we can make the right product accessible, it should be widely available, it should be something people could anticipate needing,” she said. “Or you go and get tested and immediately start taking it. The hope is that it would prevent more serious disease, but we don’t know yet. And we would need a clinical trial.” If you have any further questions, please visit medibles.io, take our online health assessment, and schedule an appointment with one of our doctors. Also, please follow us on social media for more helpful content.