A recent lab study published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Natural Products found that cannabinoid extracts can prevent coronaviruses from infecting healthy human cells.
The Oregon State University study, not conducted using any human test subjects, found that cannabigerolic acid and cannabidiolic acid bound to the spike proteins of live alpha and beta variant coronaviruses in a laboratory setting.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean that smoking or ingesting cannabis is the new Regeneron treatment. CBGA and CBDA are just two of the dozens of cannabinoids that exist in the cannabis plant — and in small quantities, at that. Extracting cannabinoid acid is not an easy at-home COVID-19 remedy — just ask the folks at Colorado State University’s Panacea Life Sciences Cannabinoid Research Center, who observe cannabinoids as they naturally occur and are working toward isolating them.
“While the results of studies like this look promising, there’s still no clinically proven link between cannabis use and COVID-19 protection. By far, the best way to lower one’s risk of COVID-19 infection is to take the Pfizer or Moderna mRNA vaccines, which are available for free.”
“When the plant (synthesizes) them and produces them, most of the cannabinoids are in the acidified form,” said Jamie Cuchiaro, a Colorado State University chemistry researcher and Ph.D. candidate. “THC, CBD, CBG — a lot of them have this acid component.”
Even more importantly, simply heating up the cannabis plant breaks down the acid’s carbon bonds, taking the A out of CBDA, leaving you with plain old CBD. In layman’s terms, the acids that produced these results do not exist in cannabis smoke or edible cannabis products in any tangible amount. Any typical method of cannabis consumption will not recreate the effects of this study and will not provide any additional protection from COVID-19.
News of the OSU study was originally shared by Bloomberg in a now-viral tweet, which was retweeted and quote-tweeted nearly 40,000 times. Most of the replies express excitement toward this new form of COVID-19 treatment, as the tweet provides no additional context.
While the results of studies like this look promising, there’s still no clinically proven link between cannabis use and COVID-19 protection. By far, the best way to lower one’s risk of COVID-19 infection is to take the Pfizer or Moderna mRNA vaccines, which are available for free.
Much of the buzz around headlines like this likely stems from years of correlative data about lower rates of COVID-19 hospitalization among cigarette smokers. Data from France in April 2020 appeared to show that smokers were less likely to be hospitalized for COVID-19. However, many of these observations can be dismissed as methodologically flawed or improperly reported, and it’s worth noting that smokers who are hospitalized for COVID-19 have a higher chance of serious illness and death.
News on this cannabinoid study came weeks after Pfizer made a significant investment in cannabinoid medicine, purchasing cannabis-based drug developer Arena Pharmaceuticals in a $6.7 billion cash deal.
Reach Hayden Hawley at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @hateonhawley.